I was reading the proverb for the day, Proverb 19, and discovered this lovely nugget:
â€œThe discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.â€ (Proverbs 19:11)
What is King Solomon talking about here, overlooking a transgression? In a word; forgiveness.
Forgiveness is what makes Christianity tough. Oh itâ€™s not tough to seek and receive forgiveness. Receiving a gift is always easy. But Jesus has commanded us to forgive no matter who it is or how many times the person has hurt you:
â€œAnd if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, â€˜I repent,â€™ you shall forgive him.â€ (Luke 17:4)
Thatâ€™s the tough part of being a Christian. Too many of us Christians donâ€™t come from the Holy Spirit factory perfect in Christ. We say things we donâ€™t mean, we still get mad really easy, our old human nature seems to still be present and my first reactions are still the worst.
You see I’m very forgiving of my faults; I even coyly say or maybe have the bumper sticker that says, â€œBe patient; God isnâ€™t finished with me yet.â€
But that is a one-way street and I’m the only one allowed down it. See, if you bring any junk my way I’m liable to give you a â€œbrotherly rebukeâ€ and let you have both barrels.
You see I can go to church with my anger raised against someone and still sing, pray, praise, tithe, and shout a timely â€œAmenâ€ when the pastor is â€œreally bringing the Word.â€ Thereâ€™s one problem with that, right?
â€œYou have heard that it was said to those of old, â€˜You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.â€™ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, â€˜Raca!â€™ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, â€˜You fool!â€™ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.â€ (Matthew 5:21-24)
â€œAnd whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.â€ (Mark 11:25-26)
Seems like Scripture always gets in the way of my self-righteous anger!
Hereâ€™s the part about anger and bitterness; it keeps you in bondage. Lewis Smedes once said,
â€œTo forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.â€
I could write a book about that truth in my own life.
How important is forgiveness? Paul says it is a characteristic of the new man Christ makes us:
â€œTherefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.â€ (Colossians 3:12-15)
Author and apologist Josh McDowell succinctly describes forgiveness this way:
â€œForgiveness is the oil of relationshipsâ€
American Christendom has become disabled because of its unwillingness to forgive one another. More church splits and broken relationships have been caused by an unforgiving spirit than Satan himself could dream of accomplishing.
Do you have a broken relationship right now? Has someone hurt you, made you angry, or maybe even said vile things about you?
They deserve your anger donâ€™t they? Then why not give them something they do not deserve.
Did you deserve the mercy of Christ? Do you still desire the Lordâ€™s mercy? Do you remember how Jesus taught His disciples how to pray?
â€œAnd forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.â€ (Matthew 5:12-15)
If you have a relationship that has stopped moving in the right direction, it is time to apply some oil to it.
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Copyright Â© 2010 David Jeffers