night I led a Bible study on the concept of forgiveness. I had a great
time leading it, but I realized pretty quickly that I was going to be
moving quickly away from "head knowledge-status quo" type of teaching.
I believe God was using this time to rearrange some beliefs and possibly step on some toes.
We have a great group of folks at our church, but I'm not naive. I know there are some that just don't quite "get" what I'm doing and, honestly, aren't totally supportive of my leading the church to be more missional. I used to take it personally until I realized that they are really just bitter and don't like much of anything. They didn't like the previous pastor much either and have become known more for their negativity than their spirtuality among the congregation. I referenced them last night as disgruntled fish. They used to be big fish in a little pond and I believe would rather the pond always stay little. Too bad. . .the kingdom of God is growing around them.
So what's going on their hearts?
a question that has come up in my mind often. Last night, it hit me.
It was as if God was saying "Here's the deal." These folks, like me at
times, have believed the lie and the Liar. They are becoming bitter
because they are harboring unforgiveness. Worse than that - they are
believing they have a right to and have even "spiritualized" their
feelings. Ah, the Enemy at work.Now, I'm not throwing stones here. I
realized last night that I, too am guilty of this.
Let me tell you, when God reveals the sin in your own heart and you repent of it, it's as if a great weight has been lifted off. I have done this and pray others will as well.
I read through the passages of Matthew 18 and the parable where Jesus told of the land owner who forgave his servant. This servant then went out and did not forgive another servant. The story is simple, but relevant.
God is the master in the parable.
We are the forgiven, yet unforgiving servant.
God forgives our sins based on His love and the death of Christ - the payment.
We forgive others based on our depravity.
How can we not forgive knowing that we have had all our sins forgiven?
It's not about feelings, because we rarely feel like forgiving others when they have hurt us.
It's about obedience. Read the parallel story in Luke 17. Christ was pretty blunt and to the point - forgiveness is our command.
But why do we have such a hard time with this? I believe it is because we don't know what forgiveness truly is. Forgiveness is not telling the one who hurt you that what they did was OK. Forgiveness is saying that you choose not to hold it against them.
"Forgive and forget" is the theme we all hear, but is that really possible? No. Some say that God forgets our sins. Really? The omniscient, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe forgets? No. Rather, He chooses not to hold our sins against us. It is "as if" He has forgotten them and separated us from our sin as far as "the east is from the west."
Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and realizing after the fact that the prisoner was you.