Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Worship Wednesdays: When Forgiving is Easy

“It may be infinitely worse to refuse to forgive than to murder, because the latter may be an impulse of a moment of heat; whereas the former is a cold and deliberate choice of the heart.”
-George Macdonald

The expression “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” is a well-known adage to remind people not to allow others to abuse and misuse your relationship with them. When have you entrusted yourself to someone only to have them turn their back on you and deliberately hurt you? If you are like me, your first response is “Never again!” My wife and I are spending our family time in the book of Romans. As we were making our way through Romans 9 and examining God’s relationship with His people, Israel, we realized that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has not forgotten nor abandoned His people. In due time, He will return Israel to the land He gave them and will restore their relationship.

After having this discussion this morning about this chapter, I began to think about God’s forgiveness. Though He had every right to completely forsake Israel because of their disobedience, He has chosen to remember His promises and forgive His people’s sins. Just as with Israel, God continues to forgive us. I am so thankful that God does not respond to me as I do with people who have hurt me. He would have every right to tell me “never again,” yet He chooses to forgive me and cancel my debts.

Listen to how the Bible describes our God who readily forgives us all:

1. “…But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.” (Nehemiah 9:17)

2. “O Lord our God, You answered them; You were a forgiving God to them, And yet an avenger of their evil deeds.” (Psalm 99:8)

The greatest example of God’s forgiveness is found in His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us all so that we could be the recipients of God’s grace:

1. “In whom (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

2. “In whom (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14)

3. “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” (Colossians 2:13)

When we choose not to forgive, poison seeps into our lives and we become bitter and hardened. My wife heard someone make an insightful statement one time about bitterness: “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” If God has chosen to forgive each of us, why can’t we learn to forgive others? Are there people in your life that you have not forgiven? Why not start today?

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

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