A personal walk with God and stuff learned on the way

Posts tagged ‘forgiveness’

Not by works

As Christians it is important for us to see things the way God sees them.  This can be difficult for us when God’s ways differ from those of the world and what we are used to seeing around us.  For example, when someone commits a crime and goes to prison, there is an expectation that they must be rehabilitated before they can be let out again. In short, they have shown to have changed their ways and can be trusted not to re-offend. They have to show they can go back to being a productive member of society.

In the Christian life when we sin, we are required to admit to God that we’ve done wrong, ask for forgiveness and do an about-turn in our attitude and behaviour. However at this point we can often get off-track because our thinking is rooted in the world’s system and not in God’s economy.

1. Repentance is a gift from God

Rom 2: 4 God’s kindness leads you toward repentance

God is so good to us that it is He who opens the door for us to come back to Him after we have done wrong.  He wants to be in relationship with us and so the sense of sorrow and regret that brings us back is from God. He is drawing us back into fellowship with Him.

2. We cannot stay on the straight and narrow on our own

Work out and fully complete your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling, self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience and watchfulness against temptation; Not in your own strength, for it is God Who is all the while at work in you, creating in you the power and desire, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (taken from Phil 2:12-13)

Doing an about-turn when we realise we have wronged God is our part, but without God’s abundant grace and enabling working in us we can be sure we cannot keep from going back to do the same thing again. This is SO important for us to understand. We CANNOT live the Christian life without repeatedly relying on God’s help to keep us from falling.

 3. (This is the most important one) We don’t have to “work our way” back into God’s good graces

 Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Here’s the thing. Forgiveness is just that. It isn’t parole or probation like in the world’s system. We’re not let out on good behaviour. We don’t have to earn the right to get back in with God before He can accept us. He already DOES accept us. Repentance must be genuine and we need to rely on God constantly to help us stay away from our natural weaknesses having the run in our lives, but afterwards we don’t have to work to get back in with God – like a penance – Jesus death was the end of all that. Trying to get out of the dog house by being a better person is like trying to earn your salvation. It can’t be done and God won’t let you succeed! The way we are saved is the way we live the life that God wants – by grace.

Accept God’s gift of grace and forgiveness

Everybody Hurts

It is a universal truth that everyone experiences emotional pain at some point in life.  People hurt people. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but everyone goes through it.

R.E.M.’s 1993 hit “Everybody Hurts” has often featured high up in all time favourite song lists simply because people can relate so closely to its message.

The antidote to hurt is forgiveness, and although it may be true that everybody hurts, not everybody forgives.

The problem that people often have with forgiveness is that it appears to let the other party “get away with it”.  We are the offended party and if we forgive, they get to go on with their life as though we have given them a “get out of jail free card”.  Surely that’s not fair!

The thing is, of course, they are probably doing that anyway, and although holding grudges and plotting revenge makes us feel as though we are getting them back, in actual fact we are just hurting ourselves.

Forgiveness is for our benefit.

To hold onto grievances and repeat an offence over and over in our minds means that the wrong-doing of the other person has succeeded in putting us in jail, whilst their off doing their own thing, probably ignorant of what they have done. Forgiveness is the key to our own freedom.

Romans 12 talks about this at length:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

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.

(Taken from Romans 12: 14-21)

Blessing those who have hurt us  includes not repeating what they have done. Overcoming evil with good means speaking well of them or looking for ways in which you can do something good for them.

This sounds a tall order, but God helps those who are determined not to get caught in the trap of offence to break free from it. Plus it opens the door for God to take care of the situation.

Forgiveness is not easy, but living with a wounded soul is much harder.

Do yourself a favour: Forgive

Peter : from failure to forgiven

Of all the characters in the Bible it could be that Peter is one that people relate to the most.  This is just simply because of how flawed he was, and yet Jesus chose him as the first leader of the church that he came to establish by his death and resurrection.

You have to wonder though, why Jesus took a chance with Peter. Just as Jesus was lead off to be crucified, Peter denied even knowing him and more than that, Jesus KNEW he would do that! He actually knew all along that Peter would wimp out and this is the man he was banking on to lead the believers after he had gone.  Surely you think he would have had his doubts about his choice?

Afterwards of course, Peter was a broken man. He had completely failed and done exactly what Jesus had said he would.  Who on earth could come back from that? What was there left to do?  Give up completely and go back to being a fisherman? Forget about Jesus, just go back to your old life. How could he ever live it down – or even look the other disciples in the eye again?

That’s why, after Jesus was resurrected, he had to reinstate Peter and show him forgiveness.  In doing so, Jesus was saying “Peter, I need you leading my church and you’re no good to me moping about regretting your mistake for the rest of your life”.

Peter needed Jesus’ forgiveness and he needed the power of the Spirit which fell on them all at Pentecost, because Jesus needed Peter to let go and move on from what he did.

Later on, Peter was to be used in mighty ways to bring healing to people who needed it, just like Jesus had done.

More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

Acts 5: 14-16

What would have happened had Peter never recovered from the night Jesus was arrested?  What if he had never forgiven himself and had constantly reminded himself of how he’d denied Jesus and let that keep him stuck in the past so that he could never be used by God ever again?

God wants us to know his forgiveness because we are no use to him dwelling on past sin and living in a constant state of guilt. He needs us to accept his forgiveness (which means forgiving ourselves) so we can move on and do the works he has given us to do to bear fruit for his Kingdom.

Don’t get stuck in a moment. God wants to forgive you and let you move on.  

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