Saturday, June 14, 2014

I have to forgive WHO seventy times WHAT?

Matthew 18:21-22

King James Version (KJV)
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

I was talking today with a guy I work with about how it's a shame that many times the folks that really hurt and use you are those that you love. Kin folks and close friends, because we have allowed them into our heart, have the ability to cause us emotional pain that the rest of the world cannot cause. 

A husband leaves his wife and kids for a younger woman.

A sibling is nice to your face, but lies on you and eats your lunch to the rest of the family.

A child has a drug problem and sells family heirlooms to get their fix.

A fellow church member you really respect gets in your face because of a misunderstanding or a doctrinal disagreement.

Life happens. 

John 10:10
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The false "prosperity preachers" love to use this verse to say that "when you're right with Gawd you can have the ABUNDANT LIFE! Just send me-ah (x) dollars and Gawd will bless you-ah!"

But, Mark Lowery, actually made a good point during one of his comedy routines. He said something like: "Life is the whole thing. Good AND bad. Happy AND sad. Healthy times AND sickness. Since we have an ABUNDANT life, we just have MORE of all of it: Good and bad."

Turns out he was right. In the Greek the word for life means....wait for it.... "life." And the word Abundantly means, "exceeding some number or measure or rank or need." 

So, not only will we have MORE good times, but we will have MORE bad times. And part of those bad times means that somebody, somewhere, will offend us. Jesus put it this way: Matthew 18:7
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

The question becomes, how do we handle it? Many times we may actually have a right to be angry. After all, they stole from us, or lied about us, etc. So, we ask Jesus, as Peter did, "How many times do I have to keep forgiving this idiot before I can dot their eyes?" (MSV (Mike's Street Version)

And Jesus says, "seventy times seven." 

"What," we ask? "Four hundred and ninety times? Is there somebody else up there I can speak to?"

Truth is, I've been alive forty eight years, and there have been some folks that have hurt me badly. But, no one has ever hurt me that many times- ever. Some theologians say that Jesus meant four hundred and ninety times PER DAY. 

I'm not sure if that's what Jesus was saying, but that's a lot of hurt in a lifetime to forgive, much less per day. And we argue with him, "But Lord, they deserve my wrath. My indignation is righteous here."

And Jesus tells us, "You deserved my wrath and righteous indignation, and what did I do?"

We hang our heads and say, "You forgave me, Lord." 

"Can you not do the same," he asks?

"I'm not capable, Lord." 

He gently lifts our face and looks us in our tear filled eyes and says, "With me, you can do all things- even this."

So, we should forgive because we are forgiven. We should remember how we used to be and all he's forgiven us for and pass that forgiveness on.  

Jesus showed us how. 

How many people that were yelling for his crucifixion that day at Pilate's palace were people that he had healed, fed, and touched? 

Even his closest people mostly abandoned him in his hour of need. Of the twelve disciples, one directly betrayed him, one denied him three times, and ten scattered when the pressure came. As he hung on the cross that day, only three folks close to him were there: the disciple that betrayed him, his mom, and a former unclean woman. 

More than this, the people he came to save mocked him, spit on him, gambled for his clothes, and crucified him. His response? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

With him, we can do it, too.

But, he also gave us a warning: 

Matthew 18:23-35

King James Version (KJV)
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Follow the progression. The servant owed a debt he could never pay (as we did in sin). He begged forgiveness (as we did). He was forgiven (as we were). Then, when someone owed him, he refused to forgive them. The result? He lost the forgiveness he had gained. 

Do we realize that our unforgiveness can pull our sins back out from under the blood of Jesus and cause us to lose out with God? Want further proof? 

Matthew 6:12-15

King James Version (KJV)

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 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.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If we refuse to forgive those that have wronged us, we will lose out with God. It's that simple. 

So, Lord, please help us to forgive when we have been wronged- even when they don't repent. Because we love you and you forgave us. Cause being right with you is all that matters.