Forgive Be Forgiven
Welcome to the Christian Life Gospel Ministry Podcast ‘Dealing with Life, Your Biblical Guide to Staying Upright When Life Tries to Knock You Down’. It is time for another episode of our program ‘Words of Encouragement’ – today it is all about how it is time that we learn how to ‘Forgive Be Forgiven’.
Let’s start with a prayer – Heavenly father, as I look at my life, I realize that there have been times when I sinned against you. There are times when I have hurt or done wrong to another. Today I ask that you forgive me and help me learn how to forgive or be forgiven by those in my life. Amen
It is important to accept one basic fact; we are all sinners. Each of us at one time or another has sinned against God. Maybe we have broken one of the Ten Commandments; maybe we have committed one of the seven deadly sins. Since in today’s secular society, where the focus seems to be on getting the most we can rather than giving the most we can; the reality is there’s not an ‘if’ we’ve sinned it’s how many times we’ve sinned.
As Christians, we believe that if we ask God to forgive our sins He will. However, there is more to it than that. Each of us at one time or another has, in addition to sinning against God have more than likely done wrong to another person. It might have been something that we knew was serious when we did it or it might have been something we considered minor; the reality is, at some point in time we have hurt others; in other words we have sinned against them. There is also a very real possibility that someone has done wrong to us. Three sets of wrongs, us against God, us against another, and another against us.
In the first two cases, it is important that we seek forgiveness and in the third case that we forgive. Let’s start with the first case, how do we proceed if we feel that we have sinned against God.
First, ask God to forgive. One question I frequently get is will God really forgive me for my sins. The answer is yes, with three very specific conditions. We have to admit that we have done wrong, that we have to stop doing it, and then we must turn to Him with all our heart. In 1 John chapter 1 verses 8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the past, there were times when I have tried to rationalize my actions, pretending that it was not that serious. Hoping nobody noticed, maybe I used derogatory language about another human, I got angry and cursed out a driver, or I fudged just a little on a tax form. At the time, it seemed like these were just little things, but over time, much like dripping water can wear down a rock, these little drips of sin wore down my soul.
I discovered that a life full of deceit and deception becomes very uncomfortable and unpleasant. No matter how much I tried not to think about it, some memories just would not go away, eventually it became time to confess my wrongdoing. So that means, I had to turn to God and ask Him to forgive me.
There are those who say a person has to go to a confession to have sins forgiven, that because it says in the New Testament that Jesus commissioned the Apostles to forgive and to condemn so that means that we have to have an intercessor. The reality is that according to the Book of Acts in Chapter 10 Verse 43, we find; “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” If we believe in Jesus the resurrected Christ then when we ask for forgiveness of our sins we will receive it. While we do not need the approval of another human, we should talk to someone about what we have done. We should seek out counseling to help us overcome any issues we have. However, no human can forgive us our sins, they can forgive us if we have done wrong to them, but only God can forgive us from our sins against Him and we reach God through our belief in Jesus as the Messiah.
Again later in Acts, chapter 13 verse 38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,” “Through Him” there is only one Him and as I said earlier, that is Jesus. There is no greater intercessor between the Father and us. Since I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father I go to Him and ask for help. I beseech both Jesus and the Holy Spirit to come into my life and to show me how to ask the Father for forgiveness. When I am honest and upfront with Him, I know I receive forgiveness.
Exactly what does it mean that God has forgiven us? It means that when He looks at us, it is as though we never sinned. After we sincerely ask the Father for forgiveness, it is as it is written in Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”
That first part of the verse, ‘let us reason together, says the Lord’ means there is a one on one conversation between the Father and us. That one on one conversation is the most vital conversation we will ever have. The scripture clearly tells us that He washes away our sins and no remnant remains.
There is another benefit to having that conversation and asking for and receiving forgiveness. We then have the strength to find anyone we may have sinned against and ask them to forgive us.
Asking God to forgive us and then not asking anyone here on earth that we may have hurt to forgive us seems a bit hypocritical. There is a line in the Lord’s Prayer that says ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. If we have not forgiven others than it seems natural that God really does not have to forgive us. The reality is He will forgive us, if as I mentioned, we have admitted we were wrong, we truly repent of our sins and that we change our ways.
One of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced was getting up enough courage to ask another human being to forgive me. It’s easy for me to talk with God, after all He’s not sitting across the table looking at me.
We have to be able to admit we’ve made a mistake. I’ve often had to ask myself since I’ve hurt people in the past with my actions, how do I ask to be forgiven? The direct approach seems to work best; in the Book of Psalms in Psalm 51 verse 4, it is written “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge”. While the Lord is the specific target of this verse, it also can apply when we are thinking about another person that we might have wronged.
The important thing is not if we think we were justified in doing what we did, the important thing is that we try to understand how the other person perceived our actions. If they thought there was a wrong committed then there was. Now in our opinion it might not have been a ‘big deal’, but if it affected the relationship then it was a big deal and they are justified in being upset. By going to them directly, we are able to diffuse the situation.
It is vital that we are sincere when asking for forgiveness. In 1 Timothy Chapter 1 Verse 5 – “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” In his letter to Timothy, Paul is pointing out the transformation of those who have learned about Jesus. Essentially our hearts become pure, we clear our consciences, and we understand the need for being sincere.
When we have a sincere faith in the Jesus, when we maintain a steady belief in the reality that He died on the cross for us; we find strength. We are able to approach another without fear, without doubt and asking for forgiveness becomes easier.
What happens on those times when the other person won’t forgive? First, try to understand how deeply they’ve been hurt. We have to put ourselves in their shoes remember, as it is written in Matthew chapter 7 verse 12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”. We cannot make a big deal out of it; we have to keep trying. We have to pray that they will find it in their heart to forgive.
One areas in my life that I have had serious struggles with is when I have been hurt by others, and finding the strength to forgive them?
Why should we forgive? We need to forgive others because unforgiveness not only ruins our relationships it poisons our souls. Over time, I have learned that to forgive does not mean, to completely forget about what happened; if does mean to let it go, release any feelings of betrayal, hurt, anger, or resentment that I feel towards the other person. We have to process our feelings, not try to suppress them; instead, we have to express them so they can bubble out of us and not fill our bodies with toxins.
In the book of Ephesians chapter 4 verse 31, we find “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” Why is that important? Medical science has shown that the more negative angry thoughts and emotions we keep inside, the worse it is for our body. If we are storing up toxins in our body, eventually all that negativity will do damage. Those toxins could indeed cause a stroke, high blood pressure, and any one of numerous stress related illnesses. Think about the situation and try to understand it. Try to figure out why it happened and if there was a way avoid it altogether.
Remember that when we asked God to forgive us, He did and He has given us a role model. If God was willing to send His son to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we should take that as the model and motivation for us to use when we consider forgiving others. In Ephesians chapter 4 verse 32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”.
If God has forgiven us, we cannot in good conscience refuse to forgive someone who has wronged us. Remember our forgiveness, much like the forgiveness God has given us, is a gift of grace and free to the recipient yet costly to the giver. We may not like forgiving someone, in fact we may want to seek revenge, but is in our best interest to no do so.
We need to get over the entire concept of revenge, as it says in Romans chapter 12 verse 19-21 “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
While it has been said that revenge is a dish best served cold, in reality, it is not our job to get even with someone. God will take care of those who do wrong in his own time.
A much better tactic is also found in verse 20-21 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Over the years, I have learned that when I am nice to someone who is expecting me to lash out at him or her, I can actually see the other person’s attitude begin to change, begin to soften.
It can be hard for us to let things go, but once we do, we find a life that is much more joyous and peaceful.
Remember that when our lives are full of anger and sin, our lives are wasted. We have to check ourselves to we have sinned against God, if we have sinned against another or if someone has sinned against us. In the cases where we were the sinners we must ask for forgiveness and we must learn to forgive those who hurt us.
Turn it over to Jesus and let Him show the path.
Check out the ministry’s new website christianlifegospel.org, building it a few days at a time. You’ll find copies of both audio and written messages, as I said going to build it a bit at a time.
So until next time, I’m the Reverend Hank Wilson this has been Words of Encouragement from the Christian Life Gospel Ministry – Good bye and God Bless y’all.