Forgive One Another 5

Colossians 3:12-13

Whenever a group of pastors gathers for a meeting the leader will usually ask which one of us would like to open the meeting in prayer. The purpose of this is to remind us that it is a privilege to offer the prayer. It is not a burden. Rather, we are chosen to do the work of God and should feel honored when we have the opportunity to do so.

This passage from Colossians is among my favorites in the Bible. How are we described? What are we to do? What are we reminded of in verse 13?

What a wonderful description for us who are called to be children of God. We are God’s chosen people. We are not a random gathering of folks, but the people God loves and who are called to do His service. We are dearly beloved, loved by God. We are special.

And as beloved children of God we are invited to live out the privilege and honor of being specially chosen by God. We are to fill ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We are to clothe ourselves in these attributes so that others will know we are children of God, and so that we will know we are children of God.

As children of God we must bear with one another –accept one another, have fellowship with one another, teach one another – and forgive one another. We are brought full circle.

Why are we to forgive one another? We should forgive one another because we have been forgiven by God through Jesus.

Forgiveness should not be viewed as a burden for us. It is not a due which needs to be paid. Instead, we should see it as a privilege, an honor. We have been forgiven and now we have the privilege of sharing God’s goodness with others by forgiving them.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to help yourself look at forgiveness as a privilege and not a burden?

Forgive One Another 4

1 Peter 3:8-9

Neither my wife nor I are good patients when we are sick. Being ill makes us both irritable and difficult to be around. And of course the first impulse is to leave the other person alone, but that won’t work. When we are sick we need someone to tend to us. So, in spite of the irritability we experience, we serve the other who is ill, being compassionate and helpful.

Peter has some words to guide the believers in Jesus, instructions for being part of the body of Christ. What five things are we supposed to demonstrate to one another? What should we not do? Why should we do this?

It isn’t always an illness or infirmity that makes some of us hard to get along with. Some people are just naturally abrasive and abrupt, even with the sisters and brothers of their own faith family. While working together as a church, worshiping together, serving together, we sometimes step on one another’s toes. We make each other frustrated or angry.

We are all human and therefore fallible. None of us is perfect. But we are called to live in harmony with one another. We are called to get along. And it can be easier to get along, to be in harmony, when we are sympathetic with one another.

When we can recognize that we are all the same, with shortcomings and failings, it is easier to have sympathy for others. It is easier to love one, and through that love we can have compassion for one another.

Even when we offend another or are offended by another, we must work to restrain ourselves. We should not respond in anger and with vengeance. We should not look for ways to get even or pay back the offense.

Instead, we need to offer blessings to one another, serving each other in love and compassion. We are called to this. God calls us to behave in this way. And, when we can live in harmony, love and compassion, we will be blessed.

But all of this can only come about when we are willing to offer forgiveness to one another.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Have you been hurt or offended by a Christian brother or sister? How can you forgive the offense and then provide a blessing to that person?

Forgive One Another 3

Zechariah 7:8-10

One of the key concepts of most Christian churches, one of the important elements in believing in Jesus Christ, is the concept of forgiveness. Paul has stated that we all fall short of the mark. We all have sinned in some way or another. And because of that sinful nature inherent in being mortal we are all in need of the forgiveness that comes through the sacrifice of Jesus.

But this concept of forgiveness is not new. It is not an idea that only Christians should embrace. The idea of forgiving can also be found in the Old Testament, Scripture written for guidance long before Jesus was born.

God has spoken through the prophet Zechariah who, according to commentary, lived about 500 years before the birth of Christ. Who is giving the commands? What are we to show to one another? What are we not supposed to do?

The mercy of God did not begin with the birth of Jesus. The coming of Christ was a mighty demonstration of God’s grace, a way to make it easier to comprehend what God wants. But God’s love and His desire for mercy and forgiveness go all the way back to the beginning, even to Adam and Eve (see Genesis 3:21).

God has spoken to His prophet Zechariah, using this mortal to express the words of the Almighty. And what does God want? God wants us to administer true justice.

And what is true justice? We can see justice as setting things right, correcting what is wrong, restoring what is broken. But the call to true justice is followed immediately by the command to show mercy and compassion.

We can assume, then, that true justice not only corrects what is wrong, but displays a kindness and compassion. The punishment one might expect is suddenly withdrawn or withheld. No evil or vengeful thoughts are brought in, no oppression.

This is how God deals with us. We are forgiven. The wrong is removed, but there is no punishment or retribution. And so we have a guide for dealing with one another. We can correct what is wrong, but that should be accompanied by forgiveness. We can stop the offense, explain our hurt, but then we forgive and stop thinking evil of one another or desiring any type of oppressive punishment.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Have you been hurt or offended by a Christian brother or sister? How can you repair the situation, remove the hurt or offense, without seeking punishment?

Forgive One Another 2

Ephesians 4:31-32

We have all heard the expression “What goes around, comes around.” That which you send out will come back to you. If you send out anger and hatred you will receive anger and hatred back. If you smile at others or do good deeds, it is more likely others will smile back or help you with their own good deeds.

It is a simple and logical approach to living. It makes sense, yet so many people fail to incorporate this concept when functioning within the body of Christ.

In today’s passage the believers in Ephesus are given some pretty clear instructions. What are they to remove from their church? How are they to act toward one another? What comparison is made?

The faults that are listed here may seem shocking at first read, but unfortunately many of these attitudes can be found among the body of believers in many churches. Bitterness, rage and anger – these three seem to be the unholy trinity in many worship communities. So many people refuse to let go of the past, clinging to a sense of bitter resentment over some long ago slight or offense.

This bitterness surfaces in rage and anger as there is conflict among believers, and the disputes can become like brawls.

But as faithful followers of Christ Jesus we need to remove these motivators from ourselves. And if we can remove them from our own attitudes, then these problems can be removed from our worship communities, our churches. This will help us all to accept one another, have fellowship with one another, and teach one another.

We are called to offer forgiveness to one another, allowing the past and all the history of being offended and hurt to fall away. Instead we should be kind and compassionate.

And we are reminded to offer forgiveness, just as we have been forgiven. We have received forgiveness; we should give forgiveness. It may be helpful to remember that we were forgiven first. What goes around, comes around.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to remove the bitterness, anger and rage you may feel to a Christian brother or sister?

Forgive One Another 1

Matthew 18:23-35

As we move forward in our series on how to interact with one another, we arrive at perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to live out. Not only are we to accept one another, fellowship with one another and teach one another, we must learn to forgive one another.

We begin with a lengthy reading from Matthew; however, it is a parable that may be familiar to most. How does this story of canceled debts relate to us? How often are we in the position of the first servant?

The parable is clear, as is the purpose of parables. In the story it is money owed which is forgiven, or not forgiven. In our lives it is our sin.

The king was able to have mercy on the servant who was indebted, just as God is able to have mercy on each of us even though we are indebted to God because of our sin. Because we have failed and done wrong we deserve punishment. We are in debt to God because we should serve our sentence or accept the punishment due.

But God can remove that debt in His mercy. He cancels the owed debt of punishment through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Now, how will we act toward one another? Are we able to forgive those who have done wrong against us? Can we be like God in His mercy and forgive? Or will we forget that we have been given a great gift from God and we should share that attitude of forgiveness and mercy with others?

Although we may be tempted to hang on to our hurt feelings and look for opportunities to get even or pay back the wrong, we need to remember that not one of us is free of the debt we owe God. If we can be forgiven, then we should be forgiving in our dealings with one another.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Have you thanked God for the release of debt He has offered you?