"I'll never forgive you!" screamed the angry child, slamming the door for emphasis. Foolishness being bound in the heart of a child, do we wish to conduct ourselves with this same impertinence? Instead, let’s build our lives upon the example of righteousness and believing that Jesus Christ provided.
How did Jesus live forgiveness? He was crucified yet he held no bitter grudges or resentments against His tormentors and persecutors.
Luke 23:34 "...Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..."
Did those people apologize to Jesus for torturing him then hanging him on a cross? According to the gospels: No.
They may have repented afterwards, but at the time of this quote, they had not recognized their grave errors. They were not aware of their sins. Jesus recognized the spiritual influences behind the peoples' actions and forgave them for it. He was not fighting the people. He was fighting the adversary, Satan.
Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
As people who love God, love His Word, and desire to be well pleasing in His sight, there are some truths we need to understand in order to put the principles of forgiveness and mercy into proper perspective. Know this first: God forgave you for things you cannot begin to repay. Secondly, God doesn't keep a tally sheet of your forgiven sins, so we ought not to keep one against our brethren.
GOD HAS NO SIN INVENTORY SHEET
Romans 4:6-8 Even as David also described the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputed righteousness without works, saying, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute (take an inventory of) sin."
Since God does not keep a rap sheet against you itemizing all your sins, keeping track of them over the years, months or days, should we keep inventory of the sins of our brethren, then blast them with a list of accusations? NO. Operate forgiveness God's way.
Luke 17:3-4 “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke (admonish,reprove; especially in a mild and a good-willed manner) him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”
Matthew 18:21-22 “Then said Peter unto him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”
How likely is it that you would count someone's sins until you reach a number as high as that in one day! Wouldn't you lose track of the number after a while? The point is we are to forgive our brother every time they repent. What if they don't apologize? Should we still forgive them or should we harbor resentment against them?
Remember Jesus was offered no apology. Neither was Stephen when the people stoned him, yet look at what Stephen said: Acts 7:60 "...Lord, lay not this sin to their charge..."
Psalms 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
No inventory for sins! Since God doesn't remember our sins, why would we not have mercy and compassion on our fellow brethren?
REMEMBER THAT GOD FORGAVE YOU
Remember the parable in Matthew 18:23-33. It’s about a king who wanted an account of his servants. One owed him an unbelievable debt that could never be repaid in his lifetime, totaling millions of dollars. The king wanted it repaid and commanded him to be cast into prison and to sell all he had, including his wife and children. This servant asked for patience and he would repay. The king was moved with compassion and forgave him all the debt!
But then that same servant, to whom all that debt was forgiven, went out and found a fellow servant who owed him only 100 pence. Not very much money in comparison. He took him by the throat even! The person asked for patience too, but he was cast into prison until the debt would be repaid. When king heard what happened, he said,
Matthew 18:32 "...O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desired me. Should you not have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?"
Indeed, love covers a multitude of sins!
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
2 Corinthians 2:7-11 “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him... Lest Satan should get an advantage over us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Don’t allow yourself to be consumed with resentment as it only distracts you from doing God’s Word. Resentment turns to hate and hate will destroy you. So forgiveness is for you’re your own good as well as the good of another.
All have fallen short of the glory of God. So let’s prepare our hearts with the Word of forgiveness and compassion so that when we are trespassed against, we are ready to forgive.
In addition, whether or not an apology ensues from our trespassers, we lay not the sin to their charge, forgiving the debt and remembering that God for Christ's sake forgave us for a debt far greater, one which we could not begin to repay. You are forgiven of your sins. Let us likewise forgive one another.
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