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…As We Forgive Our Debtors

By Watchman | July 25, 2008

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  but if you forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Matthew 6:14-15)

 If there is one concept in Scripture that has really given me a hard time during my Christian walk, this is it!  Unforgiveness, anger and resentment–can we ever entirely let them go?  I can’t answer from personal experience since my human nature has not yet allowed me to be completely free from these particular sins as yet, but take heart!  Philippians 1:6 says “…He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Jesus loves us so much that He accepts our sometimes failed attempts to be righteous and continues to work in our hearts, cleansing us from our sins and gently leading us back onto His path.    Occasional failing at the tasks God puts upon our hearts is neither unusual nor unforgiveable–the great apostle Paul made mention of his own “thorn in the flesh” from which he prayed for deliverance, to be told by the Lord “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  If, when we sin, we go to the Lord with repentent hearts we will grow stronger in His grace and better able to withstand the wiles and assaults of the evil one.  But why did the wise Old Testament King Solomon enjoin us “not to let the sun go down upon your anger”?  Why did Jesus speak in such harsh terms about our unforgiveness towards others leading to God’s refusal to forgive us?

     Jesus said “Love one another as I have loved you.”  The truth is, to do this takes real effort.  Love is not just a temporary surge of emotion, but a way of life and a way of looking at those around us.  Love grows (sometimes slowly) with prayer, patience and faith.  Resentment and anger, on the other hand, can flare up quickly into an all-consuming hatred that will smother whatever joy and love is taking root in the heart.  God never sets arbitrary commandments upon us for His amusement–His laws are designed to bring us maximum happiness and the “peace that passes all understanding.”  He knows that if we allow hatred and unforgiveness to reign unchecked our love for Him and all He has created will grow cold.  I John 2:9-11: “He that says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.  But he that hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not where he goes, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.”    Loving the Lord and hating our fellow man cannot coexist.  Does that mean that we have to approve the actions of those who wrong us or who reject God and His word?  Not at all.  Certain judgments as to behavior have already been made by God and we as Christians need to be ready at all times to defend both our faith and the mandates of our all-holy God.  But the old axiom “hate the sin; love the sinner” holds true. Tell those who are walking the path of darkness that there is a way of light.  Tell the truth in love, not in anger and hate.  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)  Easy?  Nope.  Completely possible in this fallen world?  Who knows?  As I said before, I have not yet achieved the goal of acquiring an entirely unresentful nature.  The best example in my memory of truly Godly forgiveness was that set by the Amish community a year or two back toward the family of the man who slaughtered nine Amish girls.  It would seem absolutely impossible that anyone could respond to that senseless tragedy with such selfless love–yet these people did.  Their outpouring of love and forgiveness won the admiration of believers and non-believers alike.  My prayer for myself and for all of you is that we might together wean ourselves from the unrighteous anger that is just one of the social ills plaguing us in these last days.  I will continue to press towards this goal, for “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me!”  (Philippians 3:13)

Topics: Anger and Forgiveness | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “…As We Forgive Our Debtors”

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