Forgive 5

John 20:23

As parents with teens we sometimes faced the dilemma that arose when we had to ground our children as punishment. We often wondered who suffered the most – our children who were grounded, or we as parents who had to limit ourselves so we could enforce the punishment.

Today’s passage takes place after the resurrection. Jesus has appeared to his disciples as they hide within a locked room – perhaps the same room where the Last Supper took place. What authority does Jesus give? Do we have that same authority?

This statement from Jesus can spark considerable debate and may not be the easiest passage to understand. Many believe this is the commissioning of the disciples, Jesus giving these eleven followers the authority that Jesus has. They now have the power to forgive sins, to heal, and also to condemn.

Now the question is, does this authority end with the disciples? Or is this same authority something we possess? Do we have the power to withhold forgiveness from others, and in that power do we condemn them?

I believe the answers to those questions must be decided by each individual. Who is to say which of us is correct?

On a purely logical and superficial level what is being said makes sense. If you forgive, then the person is forgiven. If you don’t forgive, then forgiveness is not given. It may or may not have everlasting consequences. It may simply be a statement of obvious sense.

Perhaps the most important question to ask is, what does Jesus intend by this comment? If we look at in light of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:12, then we might assume that Jesus is simply reminding everyone that we should be forgiving. We should be aware that we are forgiven, even though we don’t deserve that forgiveness. With that awareness we should be willing to forgive others.

And maybe the absence of forgiveness has no bearing on the souls of the people we do not forgive, but rather the absence of forgiveness on our part actually binds us up in an attitude of bitterness and selfishness. When we do not forgive, perhaps we are the ones who suffer the most.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you forgive others?

Forgive 4

Matthew 26:27-28

I learned this week that someone wanted to talk to me on Sunday after the service but I was busy talking to others so the conversation did not take place. I felt bad that I could not respond to the needs of that person. It isn’t always easy but we should work to be attentive to the people around us, people who may require our attention and our time.

On the night that Jesus was arrested, when his ordeal of crucifixion was about to begin, he gathered with his disciples and shared a meal. What was part of that meal? What did the wine represent?

If we consider all that Jesus had done in his ministry, and if we consider what he was about to endure, and if we realize Jesus knew what was about to happen, we could imagine that Jesus had a lot on his mind during the Last Supper. Yet he was able to offer grace to his disciples in that meal.

In spite of all that he had already gone through, the frustration he may have felt about all of his teaching and healing and the fact that most people still didn’t understand, Jesus was still able to extend love and mercy to those around him. In this tense time just before the crucifixion Jesus reminded the disciples about the forgiveness the world was about to receive through the crucifixion.

The wine was a reminder of how Jesus’ blood would be poured out in sacrifice for the benefit for all humanity. One of the key words is “poured.” This creates an image of generosity, an overflowing amount, an abundance. Forgiveness was about to be poured out for all of us. And that forgiveness was to come in abundance.

Christ serves as our example in how we are to deal with others. We should have forgiveness pour out from us to others. We should be willing to set ourselves aside for a moment and deal with the needs of those around us. Many probably need to know that we have a forgiving attitude and we are willing to forgive them. Many may need to hear and see and feel the grace that should pour out from you so that they may reach wholeness.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you have forgiveness pour out from you to those who need to receive it?

Forgive 3

Genesis 33:2-4

How often have we fretted and worried about someone else’s anger? It can be so easy to begin expecting retribution, hostility, anger and upset from those people we have offended in some way. And then we find ourselves stewing over what type of punishment they will give to us.

Jacob was very concerned about the anger he expected from his brother Esau. Jacob had stolen from his brother and then gone off and become prosperous because of it. Now he had to return to his brother – a man with power and 400 men at his side. What was going to happen?

What did Jacob do to try to soften Esau’s mood? How did Esau react when he met with Jacob?

Not only can we begin to worry about how others think of us and the hostility they may have toward us, if we are at all spiritual and honest we should be just as concerned with how God might feel toward us. We are sinful and we have offended God in many ways. How should God treat us?

We might anticipate punishment from God, and punishment that is well deserved. We might believe that we have no right to be in the presence of God. We might be aware that we deserve nothing but anger from God.

But how does God react to us when we come to Him? Like Esau, God throws his arms around us and weeps with joy at our return. Like Esau God is able to forgive us and welcome us into His presence with love.

Now the question is, how shall we respond? Will we accept the forgiveness of God but be vengeful to those who have offended us?

The answer, of course, is that we need to be like Esau and like God. We must be willing to forgive all the offenses we have endured just as we have been forgiven. We must treat other people with the same warmth and generosity as Esau treated Jacob, and as God treats us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you throw your arms around someone who has offended you and weep with joy at the reconciliation? What will it take to make that happen?

Forgive 2

Genesis 32:3-6

I think one of the worst feelings is the anticipation of punishment we know is coming – that sense of waiting for the axe to fall, for the other shoe to drop. When we know we have done wrong and know we should be punished the waiting can be agonizing.

This passage from Genesis is part of a lengthy story involving Jacob and Esau. Jacob struggled his entire life (since birth) against his brother Esau. As a young adult Jacob out-witted his father and brother and stole Esau’s birthright, being blessed by his father instead of the rightful heir – Esau.

Now, after years away, after years of success in another place, Jacob is returning home and will soon encounter the brother he has wronged. What precaution does Jacob take? What news should the messengers convey? What news do they bring back?

Jacob’s motivation is evident. He feels guilty for all that he has done. He has indeed done wrong. He was an enemy of his brother and he benefited from trickery played out against his brother and father. Now he is a successful and wealthy man, perhaps something that Esau should have ended up with.

As he readies to meet Esau, Jacob is trying to send some apologies ahead of him. Jacob wants Esau to know that he has the means to repay his brother in material goods. He can make things right through gifts.

But the messengers return with some frightening information. Esau is on his way to meet Jacob. And he is not alone. He has 400 men, and this sounds like a threat to Jacob.

How often do we approach God with an attitude that we will buy off his anger with good deeds or money? How often do we fear to approach God because we are concerned how He might respond?

Just as Esau is a man with some power, so God also has extreme power, and that knowledge may cause fear for many people. But we need to realize that God loves us and is ready to forgive us whenever we are ready to turn to him in repentance. Like Jacob, we need to be ready to seek that reconciliation with God and be just as forgiving ourselves.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can help you seek God’s forgiveness?

Forgive 1

Matthew 6:12

I really love desserts, especially if they involve chocolate. And there are times when I must share my chocolate dessert with a loved one, and it isn’t always easy to be so giving. Unfortunately we can take that same attitude with the goodness God gives us.

Our relationship with God should never be one of selfishness. That which the Lord gives to each of us, we should be willing to pass on to others. While each of us must find forgiveness from God, we are also called upon to offer forgiveness to others. It is part of our walk of faith in the kingdom of God.

Today’s passage is part of what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is a teaching from Jesus on what format our prayers should take. What is the requirement for our sins to be forgiven?

The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible uses the words “debts” and “debtors” in this passage. Other versions might say “trespasses.” While the original word may have various translations, the general meaning is “offense.”

So, in our prayers we should ask God to forgive us for offending Him and doing wrong. But what attitude should we have when we offer that forgiveness? We should give forgiveness in the same way God has forgiven us for the times we have offended Him and sinned against Him.

Many claim that this statement in the prayer is a type of agreement between us and God. If we forgive others, then God will forgive us. The thinking is that if we do not forgive others we are preventing God from releasing us from the bonds of our offenses.

Most, however, see this more of a guideline for us in our attitude of grace. It may be a struggle for us to be forgiving. It may be difficult for us to have the mercy we should have for all of those who may have upset or hurt us. But we should be able to forgive those who have offended us with the same willingness and love that God has shown us.

If God can be so gracious as to remove the blot of all of our failings, we should imitate God and be as gracious and merciful.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you find forgiveness in your heart for all who have hurt or offended you?