No I’m not talking about Faith or Fasting, or even Friendship – and I’m definitely not swearing (in case you were starting to panic). I’m talking about FORGIVENESS.
I want to start by saying that I’m not underestimating the pain, hurt, and brokenness that people go through because the actions of others, whether deliberate or not. In my next few blogs I want to make some general comments that could help us on our journey in the area of forgiveness.
I was recently reading Mark 11:25-26 and was challenged by these 2 verses. As you read these verses what words stand out to you?
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. [But if you do not forgive, neither will your father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions]
For me nearly every word stood out. ‘Whenever’, ‘praying’, ‘forgive’, ‘anything’, ‘against’, ‘anyone’, ‘Father’, ‘your’, ‘transgression’, ‘neither’.
Do you ever feel like you’ve hit a wall when your praying? You’re trying to loose faith through your prayers but ‘BAM!’, you hit a wall and nothing appears to be happening. You might be so focused on pushing through for a breakthrough, you may even do a bit of fasting without any effect. It may not even really matter what you are praying about. It’s like you repeatedly hit a wall.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6)
Faith works through love. Faith can’t work unless we let go of all bitterness and resentment and walk in love. Jesus told us that, after loving God, the greatest commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself. (Matt 22:37-39) There is no way around forgiveness – God has made it essential for every Christian.
We all deal with offence at some point and the greatest hindrance to faith is holding on to any resentment caused by that offence. When my prayers seem hindered God reminds me to check up on my love walk. Even after suffering arrest, beating, and crucifixion Jesus cried out in his last moments “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:24). How important it is for us to forgive in our daily lives, even one person several times a day!
I can just imagine when Peter was talking to Jesus in Matt 18:21-22 that he was trying to impress him by saying:
Lord, how often shall my brothers sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?
I can imagine Peter’s heart sinking as Jesus replies:
I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Don’t let our actions towards people be based on what they did, or didn’t do to us, or what we think they deserve. Instead, let’s consider how great a debt of sin God has forgiven us of. In comparison every other offense is small (Matt 18:21-35).
We don’t have to be a doormat and let people take advantage of us, but we do have to forgive. We have to turn our hurt into a prayer, and stir ourselves up to walk in love.
We are called to impact our culture – don’t let the disruption of unforgiveness cripple our effectiveness. Christianity has to work where the rubber hits the road. That’s how people will know what we have is real, and that Jesus is our motivation.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
My wife Julie often says ‘too many people wait to get the right feelings before they do the right thing, when it fact doing the right thing brings the right feelings’. Don’t wait for our flesh to feel like forgiving. Let’s choose the path of love today.
Let’s use the F word.