Monday, February 28, 2011

We Need to Forgive

Father God, I come before you now with my head bowed and my heart humbled Lord, to say thank you.  I thank you for life this morning.  I thank you for allowing me to wake up in my right mind.  I thank you for protecting my family and me while we slumbered, and I thank you for your son Jesus.  I pray this morning Father, that those who read this message that you have placed in my heart to share, will take heed and make it applicable.  I pray Father that you will remove any hindrances Father that will prohibit anyone from receiving it Father.  Lord I just pray that you have your way with us this morning.  And Father, I pray, if there is anything that was done that was not pleasing to you, I pray that you forgive us for it.  We honor you.  We give you praise.  And we send this prayer to you, in the name of your son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

If there is one thing that Christians find difficult in their walk, I believe is the act of forgiveness.  It is not a good feeling to be betrayed or hurt by someone.  We think, speak and act based on how we feel, and this can be altered if someone hurt us in any way.  The first feeling we feel is the affect from the hurt.  It can be anger, sadness, and in some cases helpless.  The very next feeling we feel is vengeance.  How can I get back at that person who hurt me?  We then find ways to justify it.  We say to ourselves, that we did not deserve it.  We quote the Law by saying “an eye for an eye.”  Some even go as far as saying “well the bible does say do onto others what you want others to do onto you.  So since this person hurt me, I guess he/she want to be hurt back.”  If you were to step out and look at each scenario, what are the chances of the cycle continuing?  This person hurt that person, and that person responds by hurting back.  The level of hurt will then increase.  It will soon turn into physical hurt, since majority of the time, the hurt we feel from someone are emotional.  Once it turns into physical, there is a level of rage present to where the person is not him or herself.  You know this, when the dust has settled, and the damage is evident, they say to themselves, “what have I done?”
Although it is difficult, it is very important that we practice forgiveness.  This is so important on many levels family.  The bible states “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” (Col 3:12-13) The latter part did not say that we should do.  It said that we must do.  This is a command given by our almighty God by way of Jesus’ act on the cross.  Sometimes we are crafty and may say “I forgive the person but I do not forget.”  Let’s take a look at those two “f” words. 
Forgive - to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.  to cease to feel resentment against.
Forget - to cease or fail to remember; be unable to recall.  to fail to think of; take no note of.
Have we heard the term “I forgive you, but I do not forget what you did?”  Have any of you said this before?  In looking at the definitions of “forgive” and “forget” does it make sense?  If we forgave, meaning we cease to feel resentment against that person, yet will not forget, meaning we will not fail to think of it, then how soon will the feeling of resentment return?  So did we truly forgive?
When Jesus taught us to pray, referring to the Lord ’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13), in verse 12 it states “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”  The reason for this is found in verse 14 which reads “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”   If there would be any motivation for us to practice forgiveness, this verse should be it.  Where would we be if our God chose not to forgive us?  In the book of James it states “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only,” (Jas 1:22) we must then practice forgiveness.  We are instructed to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1).  One way to imitate God is in forgiveness.  The Psalmist stated “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Ps 103:12)  What is the distance between east and west?  That distance is the equivalent of how far God remembers our sins, which is an offense to Him.  He forgave us!  That is how we are to forgive those who hurt us.  We are to treat them as though they never did hurt us.  Finally, in the book of Matthew, the Apostle Peter asked Jesus a question.  Observe: Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"  Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matt. 18:21-22) Let’s look at it mathematically, 70x7=490.  Now let’s look at it from a literal sense.  Jesus wants us to forgive each person who offends us 490 times.  It is not often the same person offends you throughout the year; however let’s say they did at least twice a year.  So this year is two, which means you have 488 more times to forgive them.  I am not sure how old each of you are, but let’s use my age, 37.  At the rate of twice a year, by the time you are 100 years old (God willing), you would have forgiven them 126 times.  Wait a minute, Jesus desires us to forgive each person 490 times.  Do you see the picture?
 Family, I know it is difficult.  That is why I say we need to practice.  We need to train ourselves for it.  When we practice something, it eventually becomes a habit. We need to make forgiveness a habit in our lives.  People know when they do things to hurt us.  When we show forgiveness, it can impact them greatly.  There is a possibility that shame will be felt by that party.  Conviction may even cause that person to come to you and say that they are sorry for what they have done.  You would now have gained a friend for life.  On the other hand, if we engage in hurting the people who hurt us, we now are practicing wickedness and add an unnecessary enemy to the list of those who are against our walk.  It isn’t worth it family.   Amen!

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