Forgiven, but Unforgiving

“For if you forgive otherstheir trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgiveothers their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Last month, a Florida mother displayed great forgiveness when she agreed to a pleadeal for her daughter’s killer.  16-year-old Jordyn Howe was charged withmanslaughter after he shot 13-year-old Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus on a school busin 2012.  Although grieved over her daughter’s death, this mother went onrecord as saying, “Justice hasalready been served … I really do forgive him.”  Mr. Howe will spendone year in a juvenile facility and serve his supervised probation teachingother kids about gun danger. Pictured here is Lourdes’ mom hugging Jordyn inthe courtroom following his sentencing. 

Many wouldfind that type of forgiveness impossible.  Once a disciple of Christwrestled with this issue and asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin againstme, and I forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21). To answer his question, Jesus told the story of acertain king who forgave a man a sizable debt.  Somescholars suggest that the man may have been a provincial governor who hadborrowed no less than $6 billion for a community project.  When the notebecame due, the man pleaded for patience as he could not pay it off.  Butinstead of extending the term of the loan, the king compassionately forgave himthe debt.

The storydoes not end there, however.  As this forgiven man left the king’s palacehe ran into a colleague who owed him money.  It comparison to the amounthe had been forgiven, the value was paltry—a measly $10,000.  Yet theforgiven man did not forgive!  Although he had received compassion, hefound no sympathy in his heart for others.  Instead he had the manarrested until the debt could be paid. 

When thenews reached the palace, the king was livid.  He rescinded his offer offorgiveness and delivered him to the tormentors.  Jesus concludes thestory with these words: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you,if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses”(Matthew 18:35). 

God hasextended forgiveness to each of us who will receive it by faith, as Christ hasalready paid our enormous sin debt in full.  So the question is this:Having been forgiven of so much, why would we not extend forgiveness to others? The next time you are tempted to be unforgiving, think about what Christ wentthrough to forgive you.

Practical Points for Dealing with Your Enemy:

  • Resist thoughts of revenge.  Leave thepayback to God. (see Romans 12:19).
  • Always do right by your enemy, even if he didyou wrong (see Exodus 23:4). 
  • Don’t try to get even (see 1 Thessalonians5:15). 
  • Don’t harden your heart against the problems ofothers, and that includes your enemy (see Proverbs 24:17). 
  • Don’t curse your enemy; pray for him (see Matthew 5:44). 
  • As much as it depends on you, live peaceablywith your enemy (see Romans 12:18).


A Song in the Night

BY GREG LAURIE, CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR

Yet the Lord
 will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life (Psalm 42:8)

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had a Christian song or a worship chorus going through your mind? If so, then that tells me you are laying up the things of God in your heart. Instead of waking up with the latest pop music in your head, you are thinking of a Christian song or maybe a Scripture verse. That is a song in the night God has given you.

When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi, Acts 16 tells us that “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (verse 25).

The word “listening” used here is significant. In the original language, it means to listen very, very carefully. Another way to translate it is “they listened with pleasure.” There are some things that aren’t a pleasure to listen to – they are painful, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But this was pleasurable, like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you turn it up. Oh, I love this song! This is a great song! That is how the prisoners were listening.

I doubt they had ever heard anyone sing in that dungeon before. And I think the simple fact that they were singing at all in such a place was a powerful testimony. It was a platform for evangelism. You see, you can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to.

 
 

When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But God can give you songs in the night. And never doubt it: people will be listening.



THORNS

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19).
In the parable of the sower, Jesus outlines the types of ground to be found in the garden of our souls. He describes first the seed of the Word which fell by the wayside and was swallowed up by the fowls of the air, which represent Satan. Next, He describes the seed which fell on stony ground and was scorched because it did not take root. Then came the seed which fell among thorns.
Thorns were first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 3:17-18 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field”
The theme of thorns in the Word of God represent the curse we brought upon our own heads due to sin and disobedience to God.
The good news is the Jesus quite literally took our curse upon His precious head at Calvary. The Roman soldiers in John 19:2-5 platted a crown of thorns and placed it on Jesus’ head to mock Him. Little did they know they crowned The King with the very symbol of our sin curse. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.“
This, however, does not mean we have no responsibilities once saved. We each of us have thorns in our lives, and sin, when left unchecked, choke out the Word of God from our lives. We may think we are secure. We go to church each Sunday and have stopped cursing, fornicating, etc. But there is still a thorn. It may be the occasional drink or a visit somewhere we have no business being. There is still a thorn. We think we are okay because “look at all the things I no longer do!”, but Jesus didn’t say “go forth and sin only occasionally, doing the one thing you don’t want to give up”. No, Jesus said “go forth and sin no more“( John 8:11).
What’s more, we are to have no gods before Him, and whatever it is in your life that you love more than God is your god. To rest on our laurels once saved by the Grace of God would be a grave mistake. Solomon saw in Proverbs 24:30-31 what became of the field of the slothful as he passed by a vineyard overgrown with thorns. When left unchecked, thorns tend to take over wherever they are allowed license. So pick up the Sword, which is the dusty Bible on the shelf of forgotten nicknacks. Cut away the thorns in your life. Use it as a plowshare, which is the cutting edge of a plow that digs into the soil and cuts the furrow. Break up the stony ground full of sin and dead things. This is the best type of soil for growing good fruit. As a garden needs tending, so too the garden of our souls.