Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. (HCSB)
Matthew 6:14-15 – For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (HCSB)
It seems that “forgive” has been my word study recently. I’m hearing sermons about forgiveness. I’m reading daily devotions about forgiveness. I’m reading a novel with the theme of forgiveness. I’m hearing other people talk about forgiveness. Are you trying to tell me something, Lord? I don’t really have a “get-even” attitude, but does that really equate forgiveness? I recently heard someone say that refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We know that would never work, but everyday we encounter people who are holding tight to their anger, letting it eat away at them while the person they are refusing to forgive is going merrily along, possibly not even aware of the situation. Am I one of those people, clutching my anger like a child would a blanket? Lord, help me to never lose sight of the fact that You know my disappointments and my anger. You tell me that I need to forgive – not to benefit the other person but for my own wellbeing. Doctors tell us that anger and resentment lead to physical ailments and degeneration. You tell us that anger and resentment lead to spiritual ailments and degeneration. I saw a post on a social media site that said “Forgiveness doesn’t forgive their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying you.” Lord, Your Son died a horrible death so that I could have a relationship with You. Am I am letting my stubborn pride and anger come between You and me? How many times have I said “Please forgive me, Lord” but then walked away with no forgiveness in my heart for others, much like the servant described in Matthew 18: 26-29? How many times have I said the words from the prayer model You gave, asking You to forgive me as I forgive others, fully expecting forgiveness from You without any plan to forgive others? Lord, I come to You asking for Your help in letting go of my unforgiving spirit. Help me to forgive as You have forgiven me.
Romans 5:8 – But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (HCSB)
Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)
As I am sitting at the kitchen table and finishing my coffee, I am listening to the grandchildren play down the hall. They are building towers with blocks when our grandson kicks over our granddaughter’s tower. I am listening to the heated conversation that follows; ready to step in if necessary. The storm appears to have blown over when I hear him say that he is sorry but then goes on to inform her that she MUST forgive him because he apologized. In a very calm voice she says “no”. I’m thinking I’d better tip-toe down the hall and take a peek at this situation! I watch as he starts to explain to her again how she MUST forgive him. She just sits quietly and looks at him while he gets more and more agitated, then very calmly says “no”. He starts in again on how she MUST forgive him but then adds that if she doesn’t forgive him, she is a sinner. She looks at him and, without a sound, gets up and walks out of the room. He goes after her and in a loud voice says, “you can’t walk away when I’m telling you that you’re a sinner!” I am swallowing my laughter as I try to explain to him that you can’t MAKE someone forgive you and that calling her a sinner probably isn’t the best way to get her to forgive him!! Lord, aren’t Your children just like these children? We try to tell people that they MUST behave a certain way and then call them sinners and wonder why they won’t listen to what we have to say. Lord, I think of how You treat sinners. You speak to sinners and allowed them to speak to You. Mark 2:13-17 tells of You having dinner with sinners and talking to them with respect. You didn’t yell at sinners or threaten them. Instead You died an indescribably horrible death so that sins could be forgiven. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned, so Lord, thank You for talking to me and allowing me to talk to You. Thank You for not giving up on me when I disappoint You, but You welcome me home like Your parable of the son in Luke 15. Father, thank You for giving Your only son so that I could be forgiven.
Psalm 22:1-2: My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from my deliverance
and from my words of groaning?[b]
2 My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer,
by night, yet I have no rest. (HCSB)
2 Timothy 4:16-17: At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me and all the Gentiles might hear. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (HCSB)
I am sitting here in the quiet of the morning, drinking my coffee, and pondering on a story I recently read. Two girls had memorized the last words of Jesus and had taken some of Jesus’ final words to describe their lives. One had chosen Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing” (HCSB). She lived her life that way, never carrying anger or bitterness and always being quick to forgive. The other girl chose Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (HCSB). She had led a difficult life. She had a father who was physically abusive to her mother and verbally and emotionally abusive to her. She lived in poverty in an area where poverty was considered a character flaw. She was bi-racial, and her grandparents considered that a sin and refused to acknowledge her existence. I look at her life and think that I can understand how she would feel that God had abandoned her. She did carry anger, had lots of bitterness, and refused to forgive. She began to live her life by the oft quoted “scripture” that isn’t even scripture at all — God helps those that help themselves. In the end, she realized that You had always been there. You had protected her from certain situations. You had sent people into her life at certain times. Her new scripture became Matthew 28:20 “I am always with you.” Lord, my life has been nothing like that girl’s life. I’ve never been abused, or lived in poverty or been considered a walking sin. But, there have been many times when I too asked “why have You forsaken me?” Lord, I sit here with my empty coffee cup and a humble heart. You have been so good to me. I need to be like David and say “Even if my mother and father abandon me, the Lord cares for me (Psalm 27:10, HCSB), but often I am more like David in Psalm 22:1-2 asking why. 2Timothy 4:16-17 says that even when I feel abandoned by other people, You are always there. 1 Peter 5:7 tells me to give You all my worries because You care for me. Father God, please help me to abandon Matthew 27:46 as my mind set and replace it with Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (HCSB)