is a Community in Christ:
Forgiving One Another as He Forgave Us
One of the most apt descriptions of the church that I have ever read was by William George Spencer, who said, “The church is the society of the forgiven and forgiving.” If it is not then bitterness and heartache are the results.
It is very important that we understand the differences between actions and behaviors of people that annoy and irritate us, versus, the deliberate, intentional words or acts that purposely offend others.
There are times when people unknowingly say or do things that irritate us through no fault of their own. We may be overly sensitive or extremely defensive about everything. Or we may be filled with pride and self importance.
Then there are times when some one has deliberately said something, to put us down, belittle us or they have treated us rudely. In such situations we need to follow the teachings of the Lord in Matthew 18:15-16,21-22.
“If your brother (sister) sins against you, go to him (her) and show him (her) their fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he (she) listens to you, you have won your brother (sister) back. But if he (she) will not listen to you, take one or two other persons with you, so that every accusation may be upheld by the testimony of two or more witnesses as the scripture says. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times.'’ ‘No, not seven times,’ answered Jesus. ‘But seventy times seven.’” The words in parenthesis have been added.
The following story and commentary illustrates, applies and communicates some very important truths about forgiveness and bitterness.
“Those who study bees tell us when a honeybee drives its barbed, stinger into flesh, it becomes so firmly imbedded that the only way the bee can escape is to leave the stinger behind. This, however, is sure to cause the death of the bee. It receives such a wound that it cannot possibly recover.”
“So it is with us. Sometimes, we sting others because they are a little better than we are. Being jealous of them, we not only leave the sting in those we happen to disagree with, but the act brings about spiritual harm to ourselves. If our attitude embitters others, it will multiply bitterness within our own hearts. Thus, when others feel the bitterness of our attitude, they will surely come to the conclusion that we do not possess the Spirit of Jesus Christ who descended from heaven to give us new life.”
The alternative to love, kindness and forgiveness is bitterness, malice, gossip and unwholesome talk, which is very destructive. It is destructive personally and socially. It destroys relationships with people and certainly creates barriers regarding the work of God and His Spirit in our lives.
Listen to this from God's Word, Ephesians 4:29-32. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
It has been said in my hearing so often over the years of ministry. “I'll forgive, but I'll never forget.” However, when God forgives, He forgets. He remembers our sins no more. In Jeremiah 31:34, we read, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more, declares the Lord.”
The church is the community of the forgiven and the forgiving. Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we are forgiven by faith, and given the grace to forgive others. As the petition from the Lord's Prayer instructs and teaches us, may God our Heavenly Father, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”
The words of several songs come to mind. “Only a Sinner, Saved by Grace.” Another one written by Carol Owen is entitled “Freely, Freely.”
God forgave my sin in Jesus name.
I've been born again in Jesus name.
And in Jesus' name I come to you,
To share His love as He told me to.
He said, Freely, freely you have received;
Freely, freely give.
Go in my name and, because you believe,
Others will know that I live.
A Sinner Saved by Grace through faith In Jesus Christ!
Striving to Serve,
-Pastor Perry DeGroot