HOW IS FORGIVENESS LINKED TO OUR SALVATION?
It can be hard for us to forgive people who have hurt us more than words can express. Especially when those wounds have to do with a loved one that has been murdered. Or when we suffer sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, someone has stolen from us, or when people we trust have talked about us behind our backs, to name a few. All of these situations are difficult to forgive, forget and move on from. My friends, even though it is difficult … With God's help, we can all overcome the feelings of "Unforgiveness" and we can trust the Lord Jesus to take care of the rest.
In the book of Matthew the Lord addresses the topic of Forgiveness… In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “ I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents (that is, a million dollars) was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me’, he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go."
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (That is, a few dollars). He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘ Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “ His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him. ‘ Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt."
"When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. “ Then the master called the servant in. ‘ You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘ I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. (Watch why Jesus told this parable…don’t miss it) “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)- NIV
Note: I imagine that this servant while in prison thought, ”Why didn’t I let that go… “ I just got my million-dollar debt canceled and the first thing I do is choke, hassle, and put my fellow brother in jail ... for just a few dollars.” This man who had his (fellow) brother thrown in jail was now in prison, being tortured by the jailers… Because he did not show the same mercy on his fellow man as the king had given to him. All of that for just a few bucks, that he just couldn’t let go of. It does not make any sense, does it? And it definitely wasn’t worth it, once you look at it in that way.
Just like this king who had canceled that servant’s million-dollar debt, God has also forgiven us for "ALL" our multitude of sins. When we ask the Lord to come into our lives and to forgive our sins… They are forgiven, NO question asked … You get a clean slate with God, A brand new beginning. Wow, that’s awesome news! In fact the Bible says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, (Watch this...Do not miss it!) NOT COUNTING MEN’S SINS AGAINST THEM." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
How good it is to know, that our debts are canceled and our sins forgiven. God tells these parables, so we can reflect on them when we are dealing with forgiving another fellow human being. When someone hurts us, it is then that we must remember the lesson that the Lord has taught us in this parable and not be like the unmerciful, wicked servant. Let us offer love instead of hate, mercy instead revenge… “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13)
Note: In the Old Testament we read of one of the greatest acts of forgiveness and it is found in the Joseph Story.
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. (Genesis 37:27-28) Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? … Betrayed by his own flesh and blood. He didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this from his brothers. It was out of jealousy that they sold Joseph to the Medianite merchants. Jealous of their father’s love towards Joseph and Joseph’s dreams is what drove his brothers to sell him into slavery.
The Medianites in turn sold Joseph in Egypt to a man named Potiphar. Joseph faced many trials in Egypt but through all the difficulties the Lord was with him and the Lord gave him success in whatever he did. God allowed these things to take place in Joseph’s life to propel him to his divine destiny. Joseph’s dreams came to pass and his brothers got to witness those dreams fulfilled. Joseph’s brothers didn’t realize it at first, neither did they recognized their brother Joseph when they came to Egypt to buy food. (They came to Egypt to buy food because of a famine in their land) Their little brother Joseph had become the second man in command in the whole land of Egypt. In the end Joseph forgave his brothers for their wrongdoings. What they meant for evil God turned it around for good. (Genesis Ch. 39-50)
The greatest act of forgiveness is found in the New Testament:
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Our Lord prayed this prayer for people who wanted him to be crucified, people who were mocking Him while He hung from the cross, and for people who were waiting around for Him to die. Jesus prayed this prayer while bruised and bleeding from all the beatings He endured, with his flesh hanging from his body; nails through his hands and feet, with a crown of thorns on his head. Jesus said, “ You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43-45) Jesus was praying for his enemies, He prayed for those who were persecuting Him. Our Lord didn’t just talk the talk but He walked the walk. Our Lord has not asked us to do anything that He himself didn’t do while He was living on this earth. We have the choice to obey or not… But remember, we’re the ones that have to live with that choice and the consequences of that choice. Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for all of the sins of mankind (Leviticus 17:11- 1 John 2:2), with His precious blood all our sins are wiped clean! We are forgiven! (Hebrews 9:22) The debt is paid in full!
Note: Let me stop here for a minute to say… If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior and would like to start a relationship with Him… All you have to do is ask Him to come into your life and He’ll gladly accept your invitation. I wrote for you a sample prayer to invite Jesus into your life… As long as it comes from the heart that’s all that counts! God bless you and Welcome to God’s family!
Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Thank you for sacrificing Your life to save me, then rising to life again that I might live forever in Heaven with You. I turn from my sins and invite You into my life. Help me to live in a way that pleases You, for whatever time you give me here on earth. Amen
Note: Jesus was the sinless, blameless Son of God… An innocent man paying for a debt He did not owe, He paid for sins, He did not commit. Question: Why did Jesus go through all of those horrific things? What’s the purpose? Answer: Love for you and me took our Lord to the cross. The Bible says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16-17)
Joseph’s life would foreshadow what the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would suffer while on earth. They both were faced with betrayal from those who were closest to them, wrongly accused, misunderstood, and sold for money. But we can see in both of their stories their exemplary act of forgiveness to those who wronged them. The Bible says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Joseph’s divine purpose was to save the world from starvation. (Genesis 50:20) While Jesus’ divine purpose is to save the souls of mankind. (John 3:14-15) This is the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Jesus Christ: Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) Everything in Heaven and on Earth has a divine purpose…We just need to trust in the God that is Omnipresent (God is everywhere at the same time), Omnipotent (all-powerful) and Omniscient (all knowing). This is an Awesome God we serve!! My friends. If this is the kind of God we serve then we should know that God is never caught off guard… He has a plan for all of us. We can rest assured that God is in total control. We just need to believe it and trust in Him.
The Bible says:
“DO NOT" repay anyone evil for evil.” ...“DO NOT" take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. "DO NOT" be overcome by evil, BUT overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17, 19-21)
Note: I’ve been through some rough times in my life. I didn’t think I was ever going to get over it, let alone move on from it. In those painful times, I’ve learned to run to the Lord in prayer and I spend time in His word. I know that the Lord has a solution in His Holy word for whatever situation, I’m facing in that particular moment. Jesus teaches me, how to deal with those difficult moments and especially to trust in Him. Without the Lord’s guidance, His comfort, and the hope I have in Him… My life would be an empty shell, a total mess. Every time I call on His name, He is always there to reassure me, that He is bigger than my problems and that With Him by my side… I cannot lose. “ If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) – NIV
Jesus hasn’t asked us to do something that is impossible for us to do. It’s a matter of choice and that… We can all do! It is not something out of our reach. The question is: Are we willing to obey and follow the Lord in ALL things? The choice is always ours to make. I pray that our choice will be to always follow, trust and obey the Lord in all things.
Jesus says: "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.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
GOD BLESS YOU ALL NOW AND ALWAYS