Pondering on my couch the command of Jesus that we should love one another and that we should forgive, it occurred to me that in my school days, sometimes if we did more than the teacher asked, we'd get extra credit. What if we did more than Jesus asked, would we please Him more? Rather than just limit our forgiveness to after an event happens, why not just take on an attitude of perpetual forgiveness and trust everyone? Indeed, why not?
Why We Should Trust Each Other Completely
I know it sounds horrible to think that we must trust each other completely! In this world we have been slapped around, kicked 'til we're down. We have lain, sprawled on the ground, writhing in pain because our fellow travelers on this ball of shame have physically attacked us. If not physically, then emotionally we have been hammered into quivering Jell-o. Of course the people in this world CANNOT be trusted! Of course they've blown it so many times, we eagerly choose to withdraw our trust rather than go through hell on earth again with them. I understand. I understand. But God loves them so what can we do? We must love them, too.
Some people are so numb, they hammer on others without even blinking. They have built walls that are so thick around them, not one shred of the Light of God can burst through to save them. They walk on this earth, crushing blossoming flowers in their beds by their heels, then grinding them into the ground. They have constructed a huge, protective shield that keeps all pain out..but, unfortunately, it also attempts to shut God out as well. And we are the only ones who can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring the light of the living God to their unseeing eyes.
There is no hope for them otherwise. Eternity, for them, will be spent in hell. Unless we are so sure of God's purpose for us, so willing to even die for them (if need be), that we are able to extend trust to them. We must show them that God sees value in their salvation. If we don't do this, eternal torment will be their fate.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for each of us. Were we worthy of this act? Obviously not. Now, we, too, must lay down our lives for each other. We must get our minds off ourselves long enough to understand that the gift of life is not about US. It is about others. Only God can forgive our sins but once He dwells within our hearts, He will forgive sins through us. And who, but the sinners, need to have sins forgiven?
Where are these sinners? They are dwelling in the workplace, on the streets. They are lying in the gutters and causing anguish in the office. They may even attend our church. Though they vex our souls with their words and deeds, we must get beyond our own sense of demanding fairness for ourselves. Let's praise God for giving us an opportunity to bring the light of Him to those who are lost.
How do we do this? By granting trust which is an advanced form of forgiveness. We know the Lord has asked us to forgive everyone. That is a given. To go one step further, however, will please the Lord even more. Since we are going to forgive everything anyway, why not hold onto an attitude of perpetual forgiveness and boldly proclaim to everyone, "I trust you!"
If we are being crushed in the office by someone, this is truly cause for joy. It is our love for this emotionally damaged individual that is going to show Him the face of Christ. Then, maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for 10 years, but sometime this spiritually lost individual will remember the unconditional and unearned love he received from us and make the connection, finally accepting the Lord as his Savior.
It is neither necessary nor practical to gather everyone up from the streets and offices and herd them into the church that they might be saved. This would be a travesty on their free will and cause much pain for them and ourselves. However, without a thread of judgment, without any ulterior motive, we must become willing slaves to Christ and do as He asks, even to the point of being willing to give our lives for people we don't even know. This is what Christ has done for us. This is what we must do for others.
When Jesus was on earth, He showed us a picture of what God is like and how He set up our world. In Matthew 6:9-15 we are given the Lord's Prayer.
Mat 6:9 Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Mat 6:10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Mat 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread;
Mat 6:12 and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Mat 6:14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you;
Mat 6:15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (MKJV)
Note in the underlined sections that we must forgive our debtors in order to receive God's forgiveness for our debts. We must strive to forgive others. In case we don't pick that up in the prayer itself, Jesus tells us plainly in Matthew 6:14-15 that God won't forgive us unless we, too, pick up the cross and forgive others.
I present this humbly before the church. Isn't it clear that He expects us to be willing to die for others, as He died for us? Are we not expected to let our light shine? This light will shine brightly in the darkness. However, this light tends to flicker and go out in the safety of our comfort zones.
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. (MKJV)
Mat 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it. (MKJV)
Peter asked Jesus (in Matthew 18:21) how often he needed to forgive anyone who sinned against him. Jesus said words to the effect, "Indefinitely!" Jesus then told a story about a king who forgave the debt of a servant but the servant went out and promptly demanded payment from his debtor and cast him into prison. When the king found out about this, he was angered and called the servant back in. "Why didn't you do for your debtor what I did for you? Have pity on people who owe you a debt." The king then handed the servant over to the tormenters until his debt was paid in full.
Does it ever seem that God is handing us over to people who torment us? Is it possible that because we are unwilling to forgive others, this becomes the modus operandi of our Heavenly Father, to help us get a grip on His ways so that we might be prepared for the Kingdom of God? The rules are clear. We must forgive others in order to receive God's forgiveness on earth. I believe with all my heart that when we are translated into Heaven, resentments will not be allowed to enter.
Jesus completed the story of the king and the debtor by telling Peter that God would send him to the tormentors should he choose to remain resentful and unforgiving.
Matt 18:35 So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also to you, unless each one of you from your hearts forgive his brother their trespasses. (MKJV)
In the Webster's 1828 dictionary, we find this definition for "Trespass:"
To commit any offense or to do any act that injures or annoys another; to violate any rule of rectitude to the injury of another. To intrude; to go too far; to put to inconvenience by demand or importunity; as, to trespass upon the time or patience of another. Any injury or offense done to another.
Is it time to re-prioritize our lives?
Maybe we should ask ourselves why we are here? If God has sent us to tormentors, it still isn't too late to repent and treat the tormentors to a huge slice of forgiveness pie. If this is our only reason for living, why wouldn't it bring joy to our hearts to do this? If our new priority was to forgive everyone of everything (which is scripturally sound), then, when we accomplished this daily, our hearts would smile.
If our purpose is to please God and to do unto others what we would have them do unto us, then with our new priorities, we would find ourselves singing to the Lord like Paul and Silas did one night when they were incarcerated in a dungeon. Yes, we can sing to the Lord no matter what inconveniences or demands those of the world would place on us. Keep in mind, however, that the rewards for changing our purposes and following the Master will not necessarily be immediate. With growing faith and trust in the Lord, as He walks with us through the trials, we will be blessed in ways that far outweigh any earthly rewards. We must remember that earthly rewards are always received at the expense of the Lord's commands. If we are wanting more and more from this world, we are off God's path and will need to re-prioritize.
To recap, then, we want to remember:
Mark 11:25 When you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mark 11:26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses. (MKJV)
It is wonderful if we go a step further than that and trust our brothers and sisters fully (even though they are unworthy of trust and may even take advantage of us). Remember, if our purpose is to obtain comfort in this world, then we have every right to be distrustful and suspicious. But if our purpose is to please God and forgive, why not go all the way with this and reap rewards that count in Heaven even though we may experience some temporary pain here on earth?
This chapter, I pray, will help the following words of Luke come alive. My prayer is that we begin to take the words of our Lord seriously so that we might have life more abundantly and help make His purpose for coming here more fruitful.
Luk 6:27 This is what I say to all who will listen to me: Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you.
Luk 6:28 Ask God to bless anyone who curses you, and pray for everyone who is cruel to you.
Luk 6:29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, don't stop that person from slapping you on the other cheek. If someone wants to take your coat, don't try to keep back your shirt.
Luk 6:30 Give to everyone who asks and don't ask people to return what they have taken from you.
Luk 6:31 Treat others just as you want to be treated.
Luk 6:32 If you love only someone who loves you, will God praise you for that? Even sinners love people who love them.
Luk 6:33 If you are kind only to someone who is kind to you, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners are kind to people who are kind to them.
Luk 6:34 If you lend money only to someone you think will pay you back, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners lend to sinners because they think they will get it all back.
Luk 6:35 But love your enemies and be good to them. Lend without expecting to be paid back. Then you will get a great reward, and you will be the true children of God in Heaven. He is good even to people who are unthankful and cruel.
Luk 6:36 Have pity on others, just as your Father has pity on you.
Luk 6:37 Jesus said: Don't judge others, and God won't judge you. Don't be hard on others, and God won't be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you.
Luk 6:38 If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap. The way you treat others is the way you will be treated. (CEV)
From Webster's old dictionary I quoted from earlier, we have a fine definition of "forgive." God bless you all.
To pardon; to remit, as an offense or debt; to overlook an offense, and treat the offender as not guilty. The original and proper phrase is to forgive the offense, to send it away, to reject it, that is, not to impute it, [put it to] the offender. But by an easy transition, we also use the phrase, to forgive the person offending.
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