[Jesus said,]â€œFor if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.â€ Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
As I read Henryâ€™s devotion yesterday, I was drawn to the word â€˜forgivenessâ€™. That is a Grown-up Christian concept. It is one of the points that my pastor brought before me this past Sunday. He has been strongly preaching and exhorting us to â€œGROW UP!â€ and one of those ways is to deal with Jesusâ€™ words from Matthew 18:15-17. If a brother or sister sins against me, then talk to him/her about it. If the person does not acknowledge the sin, then take another sister/brother and go to them as a witness. If that doesnâ€™t work â€“ bring it to the church. If that doesnâ€™t work, treat him as a pagan. Sounds pretty harsh! Letâ€™s look at this a step at a time.
How does another Christian â€˜sinâ€™ against you? Anybody every lied or gossiped about you? Anyone used their influence to prevent you from doing your job? Answering your call? Ouch. I bet some memory has come to mind!
Next comes the resolution part. Thatâ€™s difficult. In Matthew 6 Jesus says we are to forgive if we desire to be forgiven. I certainly have plenty that needs forgiveness! Jesus said in Matthew 17 that if someone sins I should help them to come back to the path of forgiveness! BUT â€“ and thatâ€™s a key part â€“ the person may not want to acknowledge their sin and so not â€˜needâ€™ the forgiveness. Where does that leave me and forgiveness?
Sunday morning, as my pastor spoke, I immediately had the image of someone who has recently sinned against me. Yes, this person had sinned. My husband could testify to the fact. However, as I bowed my head and knew that the Holy Spirit was asking me to extend forgiveness to this person I also knew that this person did not see their act as a sin. That lack of knowledge on their part did not preclude me from being obedient and, from my heart, give the forgiveness. Now I donâ€™t know all that happened at that moment. I am, after all, not able to understand all that is God. I just know that a â€˜heavinessâ€™ that has weighed me down for some weeks â€“ left me. I walked out of that service lighter and whole in my spirit. As for the rest of the reconciliation, that is for God to direct. I have not felt Godâ€™s direction to go to this person yet. I do not have peace about doing that. So I will wait and pray.
Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against satan who prowls about. Forgiveness is birthed from love. Godâ€™s love. The â€˜bad guysâ€™ of this world hate that! It comes forth through no power of my own, just a choice to allow God to work within me.
If during this devotion, an image comes; a need to forgive, do not let the moment past. Allow God to speak to you and tell you His next step. Follow Him. You will be glad you did!