Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Foundation #4 - Forgiveness of others is one key to unlocking my relationship with God.

Jesus said quite a few confusing things while he was on the earth. One of the most poignant statements was given in the sermon on the mount - if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you don't forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive you. (Matt 6:14-15)

An interesting conditional statement regarding our forgiveness - we are only forgiven when we forgive others. Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray. These were committed men who were following him. He was giving a manifesto of kingdom behavior; what it looks like if you are a follower of him.

I do not believe that he was saying that if you don't forgive someone a sin then you are going to be damned. It feels like what he was communicating is what John was communicating to Christians in I John 1:9 - if we confess, he forgives and cleanses. When we sinned, we didn't stop being a child of his, we just intentionally stepped out of relationship with him. (Think of it in these terms - when I sinned against my dad, I didn't stop being his son, but my relationship with him was adversely affected. It took repentance to restore what I broke when I sinned.)

So.......if I don't forgive others, God will not forgive me. If I refuse to forgive someone who has wronged me, I set up a barrier in the growth of my relationship with God. Basically, I will not grow if I do not forgive others. The Psalm writer said it this way - if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me. (Psalm 66:18)

If you want to stunt or stop your spiritual development, don't forgive others when they sin around you. However, if you want to unlock your growth and move toward intimacy with God, forgive others when they sin against you (even before they know they need forgiveness). Don't harbor a bitter heart; harbor a heart of grace. Forgive!

Principles so far:
#1 You reap what you sow
#2 God is good all the time
#3 Fruit of the Spirit is the yardstick

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