Two Part Forgiveness…
All of us want the forgiveness of God! And there is plenty to be forgiven. Kurt Koch in his book, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, tells how, in a dream, Martin Luther found himself being attacked by Satan. The devil unrolled a long scroll containing a list of Luther's sins, and held it before him. On reaching the end of the scroll Luther asked the devil, "Is that all?" "No," came the reply, and a second scroll was thrust in front of him. Then, after a second came a third. But now the devil had no more. "You've forgotten something," Luther exclaimed triumphantly. "Quickly write on each of them, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ God's son cleanses us from all sins.'"
We can all rejoice in the forgiveness offered to us in Christ. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43:25) And Paul the Apostle wrote, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace," (Ephesians 1:7)
The forgiveness of God, based in His loving grace toward us, is the first and most significant kind of forgiveness we can know. But it also serves as a reminder and an example of the second kind of forgiveness; our forgiveness of others, as Paul makes clear in Ephesians 4:31-32… "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Let's face it, we all want the first kind—God's forgiveness to us, but the second, forgiving others, is not always so easy. But it is to our advantage to practice forgiveness to others even when we've been wounded deeply. Paul's point in Ephesians 4 above is to remind us that the lack of forgiveness actually hurts us, by taking us emotionally captive through bitterness, anger, malice and other damaging emotional by-products.
Dale Carnegie once visited Yellowstone Park where he saw a grizzly bear. The huge animal was in the center of a clearing, feeding on some discarded camp food. For several minutes he feasted alone—no other creature dared draw near. After a few moments, a skunk walked through the meadow toward the food and took his place next to the grizzly. The bear didn't object, and Carnegie knew why—It would cost the bear too much to get even. You may be able to get even with your enemies, or those who have hurt you, but it does not pay. Jesus offered a better way… forgive them, it may be more than an event, and it may a process to get there, but the freedom it brings to your soul is worth the journey of forgiving.
I love what Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, said when she was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. She acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. "Don't you remember it?" her friend asked. "No," came Barton's reply, "I distinctly remember forgetting it." That's what God did for us, the scripture says, "as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12) And because He has done that for us, we can do that to others.
RAD… Last Sunday was another great evening for our Ridgecrest Academy of Discipleship. If you are not in, get in tonight. Join us in one of the many courses that happen from 5-6 PM. We'll help you find the right one. Stop by our Welcome Center this morning for more info or show up at 5:00 PM. By the way, our next One Family Worship service will be next Sunday evening at 5 and is going to be special… "The Living Lord's Supper." Don't miss that!
I am glad you are here today, may the Lord speak to you, while encouraging and transforming you with worship in song and through His Word. And remember, God is always trying to take you someplace new. I love being your Pastor!
For God's Glory Alone,