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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

“Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” (John 13:36-38)

Ever gotten a spiritual “strawberry” on your chin? Ever charged out of church ready to conquer the forces of Hell, only to fall on your face midweek? Ever ridden a wave of enthusiasm right into a reef of your own foolishness? I sure have.

Good news for schleps like us: Jesus is supremely patient. Jesus knows that our enthusiasm often outstrips our maturity. have a look at Peter. Often ready to jump in with both feet, Peter is pushed back by his Teacher on many occasions. He even garnered to “Satan” gloss once (Matt 16:23). And yet, his hubris goes unchecked.

A few weeks back, I was having a great conversation with my wife about the anguish of unconquered sin. Our spirits really smart when we fall into transgression that we are familiar with. Repeated offense of the same kind really shines a light on our hearts. Beyond guilt, it brings feelings of shame, doubt, and grief. We are very familiar with the greatness of the price paid for us (Rom 5:6), and it tears us up to see that we’re squandering the great cost of the Savior’s blood.

Peter felt this too. Luke 22:61 tells us that upon Peter’s third denial of Jesus, that He made eye contact with Peter. I can’t imagine how great Peter’s sorrow must have been.

But again, this is meant to bring us some encouragement. In the context of Jesus’ grounding of Peter in John 13, let’s highlight a few heartening observations:

  1. Jesus checks Peter but doesn’t reject Him.
  2. Jesus want to be with Peter. Jesus goes on the explain in John 14 that He must go ahead of the disciples, to the Father, to prepare their way to the Father. In this, Jesus is making it possible to Peter to follow Him, just not yet. Jesus is only telling Peter that he isn’t yet ready, not that he can’t come.
  3. Jesus, by going to His Father, is going to trigger blessings that will overcome Peter’s weakness. Particularly Jesus tells us that His going is to drive them into prayer (14:13), make the capable of “greater works” (14:12), give them peace (14:27) and send the Holy Spirit (14:26).
  4. Jesus underlines the importance of the fact that, like all other believers, Peter will eventually succeed because of his spiritual union with Christ through the coming Holy Spirit (John 15).

You know, the mark of self-righteousness is eagerness to punish. When we sin, there are often many people ready to scorn us and put the “Matthew 18” screws to us. It’s a mistake to think that Jesus regards our sin in this way. Yes, it is absolutely true that God hates our sin, and Jesus shows this by sternly putting Peter in his place. Yet, Jesus ultimate goal is that we glorify God on earth as He did when HE was here, Himself (John 13:31-35). that His response to our sin is serious, and yet gentle, is proof of this.

Let us proceed with a greater love of Christ. Let us be strengthened by a disdain of our sin, and yet be unvanquished by its emergence. let us show mercy to fellow sinners, and yet call them to accountability. Let us confes our sin, and appeal to Christ for the power to overcome it.

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It’s good to be busy in ministry. Without looking, I’m not even sure how longs it’s been since I blogged last. My intent is to post at least twice a week, but this last week pretty much blew right by me. The week was capped by pulling an all-nighter Friday into Saturday for a high school youth event. The challenge was on to see who was of stern enough stuff to last the whole night. Only I and a few other students made it. Needless to say, I paid the price Saturday.

Had a great conversation today with a customer who takes care of cleaning a local church. Long story short, she told me she was leaving her church because she disagreed with the church’s community outreach. Whether or not they even preach the gospel aside, she was upset (amongst other things) that some people had taken advantage of her help and the church was willing to keep helping them. The church further said that she had “too much self-esteem”, probably because she was still fairly bent out of shape about getting jammed. They are likely at least right about that.

I never want to talk internal church politics with my customers. There’s way to much lack of information to scratch that iceberg. I usually just address the person in question. Regarding my customer, I saw the issue as lack of forgiveness. This is how I advised her:

  1. In the context of the church, Jesus instructs us to forgive as often as the offender will repent (Matt 18:22)
  2. There is a pattern for confronting sin (Matt 18:15-22) that culminates in the offender being put out of the church when the elders determine a pattern of unrepented sin.
  3. The elders of the church (which her church has, rare as that may be) protect their flock from abuses by putting s0-called-brethren out of the church.
  4. Outside the church, we are never TAKEN advantage of because we GIVE our advantage whenever we minister. We expect sometimes to be lied to and used, so long as the gospel is proclaimed, our work is done.

I began to explain that Jesus says in John 10 that the Good Shepherd (Christ) is willing to sacrifice all for the sheep, whereas the hired hand (false teachers, false professions of Christianity) flee when danger threatens. I was using this to say that Christ was willing to die in order to serve us, so we should not be deterred by the evils of some who we would try to help.

She literally cut me off and said “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” and walked inside, ending our visit.

Immediately Matt 18:21-35 came to mind. The lesson of this parable is that when professing Christians refuse to forgive, it results in a stiff trial. God has forgiven you more than you can ever know, and so refusal to forgive is a grave offense to Him. There will be consequences. Sadly, unrepented unforgiveness is an indicator that one’s sins have not been forgiven at all.

Forgiveness is a serious thing. Bitterness can dissolve even families like acid. Examine your heart, that you will not live with the bone crunching weight of unresolved anger. And ulitimately, consider yourselves worthy of nothing but death, let alon the praise and adulation of everyone. Consider is a privilege to give yourself as a servant, washing the feet of many as your Master did. True spiritual greatness is found in lowliness, not in keeping score.

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Revenge: the dish best served cold.

Man has it been a while since I posted. Last week fetured three of four of our family members having a stomach flu that set in, each time, in the late evening. Isn’t that how it always goes, though? This week the illness-du-jour has been respiratory flu with enough fever, honking and hacking to go between all four of us. Suhc is the life sometimes of parents of small children. But I digress.

Had to write about something I read in this morning’s Omaha World Herald. Since the execution of Saddam Husssein is only a matter of time at this point, people are lining up for the chance to act as executioner. One particual expatriate living in London, wanted to repay Saddam for killing his brother, had put in a phone call to request what he said would be an “honor.”

People just love revenge. Seems many people think of it as something to which they are entitle. Most would even go so far as to justify evil acts as good, for example murder, if done in the name of revenge.

Luke 7:40-40 amd Matt 18 say quite a bit about forgiveness. A major theme is that people who have been forgiven are forgiv-ing. Lack of mercy is a common characteristic of the unregenerate. Jesus says this about a woman who excessively humbled herself in serving Him:

“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

Those who have been forgiven their sins by faith in the cross of Christ are not characterized by grudges and bitterness. They are not consumed with seeking out human justice, nor are they bent on revenge. They see themselves as guilty, yet pardoned and so they see bitterness as hypocrisy. Indeed believers who fail to forgive are punished severely ( 18:34).

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