Forgiveness is in the Forgiving

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a subject we have talked about before and while we accept the words of Jesus here in theory, how are we at practical application? When someone really wrongs you, hurts, betrays, cheats or deceives you, how quick are we to release forgiveness. Most all of us go through those times in our lives when we have every justification to really hate someone and not forgive them in the natural way of thinking.
Allow me to use myself as an example here that may not be so different from something you have experienced and quite possibly you have experienced worse. Recently I met a lady and did some work for her. She is a professing believer, her dad she has told me, is a preacher and her mom a missionary. She is a businesswoman running several companies. She hires me last minute to do some work for her the same day and then the next day. Each time she keeps me waiting three or four hours before her and her people are ready to go. Both days we work quite late. Now I have asked for a $500 retainer up front which she has her assistant pay me with a check. Making a long story as short as possible she owes me over $1500 dollars for the work I have done for her. While she has made many promises to pay she hasn’t. What is worse is, I have since found out that a number of other people, including other photographers are owed money they haven’t been paid. What is even worse is the check for the $500 came back after about two weeks with insufficient funds. This is about the time I reached the end of my patience, put in a call to lawyers, and let the lady in a stern and blunt way know that I was ready to take action if she didn’t get this resolved. Her promise was to pay me half in cash the next day and then the other half a few days later. Well, again she didn’t follow through. Do I have every right to be angry and sue her? You bet, in the world I do, but what is God’s way? If I pursue a legal course of action and do all that I can to expose her fraudulent behavior, have I really forgiven her? Here is the practical place where our faith and trust in God and obedience to His Word has to override our natural feelings, emotions, anger and lack of forgiveness. Does she deserve for me to forgive her? Did I deserve for Christ to forgive me? If I harbor that unforgiveness who is the one that is damaged most by it, her or me? The Word says if I don’t forgive others, neither can God forgive me. My personal forgiveness from God is dependent upon my forgiving others who have offended and wronged me.
There are areas where some of you have been deeply wounded and hurt, far more than I was. Perhaps, you may feel it is impossible for you to forgive that person or persons. We often have to leave the judgement and the vengeance to God, that is His and not ours. The key to our emotional and spiritual healing in these times begins with us simply confessing and giving it over to the Lord. Our emotions and feelings may not be there yet, but if we can begin to take the step of faith to release those who have offended us, then we have taken a step toward our own emotional healing and recovery.
Matthew 5 is full of principles that are utterly contrary to natural thinking and reasoning. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I have shared this today so that in a practical way we all might see that God is wanting us to conform to the higher standard of His Word. These kind of experiences are where the rubber meets the road and we have to live what we say we believe, otherwise how are we any different than those who have offended us?

Blessings,
#kent

When Lose Equals Gain

November 1, 2012

Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

When Lose Equals Gain

When we came to Christ we made a decision to invest our lives in what God had invested into us. What we come to realize in this investment is that I am willing to invest and lose me, that I might gain Him. My loss becomes my gain. It is a paradox. In saving my “self” and living only to my temporal life, I neglect the greater gain of not only an eternal life in God, but also the resources, promises and the power of a life lived out of Christ, rather than out my efforts and abilities.
When we come to Christ we are saying, “Your ways, I may not fully understand, but I am willing to believe in You and be a part of Your plan.” In doing so, I think most of us are optimistic in seeing that we have a great and awesome God who has given us a Bible full of great and wonderful promises and that we now belong to a God that is all powerful and can do anything we ask or anything that He wants. What about when what we ask and what He wants aren’t the same thing? What about when we summon all of our faith to believe and declare something and it doesn’t come to pass? What about when God says, “no”, when we thought He should say “yes”?
Then we are left to reconcile our faith, with His will. Even Jesus asked the Father,
“If it possible let this cup pass from Me.” But Father said, “No, it is not possible, it must be if you are going to do My will.” What was the condition Jesus put on that request? “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”
As humans we operate out of finite minds and flawed natures. We have numerous limitations, faults and shortcomings and yet, somehow, we presume to know better than the infinite, all-powerful, all-wise, and omnipotent God what is right and wrong, what is just and fair, what should and shouldn’t happen. Does anybody see something wrong with that picture?
Life does not often operate on principles of fairness as we might define them. Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. Innocent people shouldn’t be abused, hurt and killed. In our black and white world we only see and perceive through the light of our limited understanding.
God, I believe, often operates out the principle of loss for gain. It is as simple as a seed must die to produce the life of what is in its genetic code. Job endured the loss of all that he had and his health, to later gain back a double portion. Jesus, God’s own Son, died. God allowed the unlawful, unjust atrocity of His own Son being tortured, mutilated and crucified, because through that loss, through that death, through that seed, many sons would be brought into glory and through those sons, all of creation would be set free. A loss often equals a greater gain.
When we lost ourselves, we found the greater gain of Christ, but even in that we are told, ‘if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified with Him’. Still there is a loss to a greater gain.
In life we are going to experience some of these losses and they are not going to always seem just, fair or right in the light of our understanding. We have to see that in God’s economy, the willingness to lose is often the price to gain. So, like Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”

Blessings,
kent

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