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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Learning To Forgive, Because God Has Forgiven Me

In review of Ephesians 4:32 it says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you” (NIV).

Today’s verse comes from the last part of Ephesians 4:17-32, where Paul is teaching us how to live as Children of Light. As such, Paul tells me to live no longer as someone who is hopelessly confused with a mind full of darkness. When I’m like this, I’ll end up wandering far from the life God gives, because my mind has hardened my heart against them. I start to have no sense of shame, and start to live for lustful pleasure, and then I’ll eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

But this isn't what I've learned about Christ. Since I have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, I am to throw off my old sinful nature and my former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, I need to let the Spirit continually renew my thoughts and attitudes. I put on my new nature, created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.

Paul also tells me to stop telling lies, rather let me tell my neighbors the truth, for I am part of the same body. I need to be careful to "not sin by letting anger control me." Don't let the sun go down while I'm still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. I am to use my hands for good hard work and give generously to others in need. I shouldn’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything I say be good and helpful, so that my words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way I live. Remember that he has identified me as his own, guaranteeing that I will be saved on the day of redemption.

Therefore, I need to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, I need to be kind to others, be tenderhearted, and then forgive others, just as God through Christ, has forgiven me. This is Christ's law of forgiveness as taught in the Gospels.

A natural tendency is to think my way away from God, leaving me "hopelessly confused." Intellectual pride, rationalizations, and excuses all keep people from God. Don't be surprised if people can't grasp the Good News. The Good News will seem foolish to those who forsake faith and rely on their own understanding.

Those around me should be able to see a difference because the way I live. I am to live as someone in the light. Paul tells the Ephesians, and myself to leave behind the old life of sin. Living as a Christian will be a life process. Although I have a new nature, I don't automatically thank all good thoughts and express all right attitudes when I become a new person in Christ. But if I keep listening to God, I will be in the process of constant change.

I must not be driven by desire and impulse. I must put on a new nature, head in a new direction, and have a new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives.

Be kind to others, tenderhearted, and forgiving, just as God through Christ has forgiven me. God forgives me, not because I forgive others, but solely because of his great mercy. As I come to understand his mercy, however, I will want to be like him. Having received forgiveness, I pass it on to others. If I'm unwilling to forgive, then I'm not following Christ, who was willing to forgive even those who crucified him.

We will all be hurt in this life. Many times we’ll be hurt intentionally by what people say about us or what people do to us. In fact, any time we read the word “forgiveness” we instantly call to mind certain heartaches, hurts, and problems from our past. The memories are still fresh because we’ve been hurt very deeply.

Because of how deeply we’ve been hurt, it’s hard to consider forgiving the perpetrators. But the Bible gives us one very important reason we need to forgive.

I forgive others because God forgave me.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV). I need to ponder how much God has forgiven me. This alone will cause me to be more forgiving of those who have hurt me.

The opposite is also true. If I don’t feel forgiven, I’ll have a hard time forgiving others. If I typically have a tough time forgiving others, it may be related to my not truly feeling forgiven myself.

Think of it like this: God has completely wiped your sin slate clean because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. All of the things I deserve to be paid back for have been cleared away because God has forgiven me. Own that statement for yourself, and you’ll find it increasingly tough to hold a grudge against someone else.

Remember this: No matter what anyone does to me, I’ll never have to forgive any other person more than God has already forgiven me.

Bottom Line:
Forgive others as God, through Christ has forgiven me.

What this means to me:
I am to be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving, just as God, through Christ, has forgiven me.

In summary, I no longer need to live as someone who is hopelessly confused with a mind full of darkness. Let the Holy Spirit continually renew my thoughts and attitudes. I need to let everything I say be good and helpful, so that my words will be an encouragement to those who hear it. Be kind to others, be tenderhearted, and then forgive others, just as God through Christ, has forgiven me.

God you have been so gracious to me. Even though I’m going through some tough leadership times at work with a large volume of work, and would rather not face this. I realize you are using this to help train and build me. You have something in mind for the future that I can’t see today. I just need to trust you daily and ask for you continually wisdom and guidance such that I do things that are helpful and make a difference in others lives. This morning I pray Father, for your continued guidance and wisdom to handle what is in front of me. Give me the wisdom to help lead and serve those who work for me and allow my responses to all to be full of grace and love. In your Son Jesus name I pray, amen!

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