Forgive As The Lord Forgave You

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Colossians 3:13

It has been recognized by secular society that Christians Eat Their Own Wounded when they fall into sin…  a horrid behavior that’s completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  The word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. When we wrong someone, we seek his or her forgiveness in order for the relationship to be restored. It is important to remember that forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. Instead… it is an act of love, mercy, and grace!
 

I find it interesting that most religious individuals tend to be more self-righteous in every sense of the word.  This can be clearly seen throughout the Gospels of Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50 and John 12:1-8, Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where he had raised Lazarus from the dead.  It was at this time a Pharisee, Simon, hosted a dinner and invited Jesus and Lazarus as the guests of honor.  Jesus had once healed Simon of leprosy.

The house was full of guests, including Mary and Martha and many of Jesus’ disciples.  When suppertime came, Martha served, as usual. Mary was thinking of Jesus and how much he had done for her.  She believed that Jesus saved her and helped her find God in her life.

Mary longed to tell Jesus how grateful she was and how much she loved Him.  She had an idea, but dare she act on it?  She had thought about it a long time and thought, well, maybe now was the time.  After all, Jesus wouldn’t be here much longer if the rulers in Jerusalem had their way with him.

The act of Mary Magdalene anointing Jesus’ feet illustrates the gratitude people feel when they are forgiven.  In this story, we see the genuine spiritual love that existed between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ.  Have you felt grateful to someone when they have forgiven you?   That’s how Mary felt toward Jesus.

Slowly Mary walked toward Jesus, unnoticed by the guests, who were busily eating and chatting with one another.  From beneath a covering, she brought forth a lovely alabaster jar containing a pound of spikenard, a very expensive ointment.

Mary slowly poured some of the oil on the head and feet of her beloved Master and anointed his feet. She then did something very surprising – Mary lovingly wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair.

The house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then said one of his disciples, “Why wasn't this oil sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?"

Jesus said, “Why trouble this woman?  For the poor you will always have with you; but me you will not have not always.  In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial.”

Then Jesus made this amazing prophecy.  “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” And so, it has happened through all the nineteen hundred years that have passed since then.  Mary’s loving deed will never be forgotten.

But Simon was still troubled.  He knew Mary well.  He had known her before she turned to the Lord and had sinned against God.  He couldn’t understand why Jesus would let a woman with such a past behave like this.

Simon thought to himself, “If this man was a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” Jesus knew what Simon was thinking. “Simon,” Jesus said, “I have something to say to you.” “What is it?” asked Simon.

Then Jesus told him a story about a man who was owed money by two people.  One owed five hundred pence, the other fifty.  Seeing they had nothing with which to pay, the man forgave them both. “Tell me,” said Jesus, “which will love him most?” Who do you think would love most, the one who owed the most or least?    This is how Simon answered. “The one who was forgiven most,” said Simon. Right!  said Jesus.

Then pointing to Mary, He said, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.

Then, speaking to Mary, He said, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  Simon was shocked because he believed that because Mary had once sinned she must always be considered a sinner.  Jesus said that it wasn’t so – Mary had been forgiven.  She was and is as dear to God as all His children.  Mary is a child of God, now and forever. We also have the opportunity to be forgiven our sins when we ask God for forgiveness. God loves each of us very much!

The word of God is filled with many of God’s servants who sinned and the Lord resorting them back into ministry instead of discarding them as trash as soon as they sin.  Let’s take a look at Noah, the last righteous man on earth at the time, had a drinking problem who slept in the nude. (Genesis 9:20-21) Then we have Abraham, the forefather of our faith, who let other men walk off with his wife on two different occasions. (Genesis 12 and 20) And if that wasn’t bad enough we have Sarah Abraham’s wife, allowing her husband sleep with another woman and then hated her for it. (Genesis 16) Then we have Lot, who lost his father early in life, had a serious problem with choosing the wrong company. (Genesis 18-20) Jacob, was pretty much a pathological deceiver. (Genesis 25, 27, 30) We must not forget Reuben, the pride and firstborn of Jacob, was a pervert who slept with his father’s concubine. (Genesis 35:21) Then we have Moses, the humblest man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:13), had a very serious problem with his temper. (Exodus 2, 32:19; Numbers 20:11) How about King David, the friend of God, concealed his adultery with a murder. (2 Samuel 11) Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was arguably the world’s greatest sex addict with 1,000 sexual partners. (1 Kings 11) and the prophet Hosea who was an incredibly forgiving man, grappled with the pain of a wife who could be described as a nymphomaniac. The Apostle Peter, also known as Cephas (John 1:42), was one of the first followers of Jesus Christ. Peter with his impulsive disorder and strong willed behavior caused many problems in his walk with Christ. Peter rebukes the Lord in Matthew 16 for speaking of His death. Peter who boasted that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did (Matthew 26:33) and later denied three times that he even knew the Lord. Peter later driven by fear and anger drew his sword and struck the high priest's servant Malchus, cutting off his right ear. Peter was eager, strong-willed and at times, brash.  Then we have the Apostle who penned 13 of the 27 New Testament Books state, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of sin and death?” (Romans 7:24) The Word of God is not clear on Paul’s particular issue, but it’s certainly is clear that… “No one is righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) The Word of God states, if we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. (1 John 1:8)

The only man that’s completely righteous is Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, who shed his blood for our sins. What can wash away my sin nothing but the blood of Jesus, what can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!  Oh, precious is the flow…that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know… nothing but the blood of Jesus!

By no means does this condone a sinful life style, for the Word of God is very clear that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Sin will kill your physical health, your emotional stability, financial standing and may kill your family’s sanity.  The apostle Paul admonish the saints in Rome by declaring, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).  Recognizing that we are only saved by God’s Grace it will help us to deal with others who are struggling with sin.  “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.  “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives” – Jude 22-23s.  A humble heart understands that we are not perfect and can easily stumble, but a self-righteous heart only sees the others persons sin, not recognizing their own imperfections. 

There are times we don’t feel like forgiving those who have wronged us. It is easier to not forgive than to forgive… having a nature of not forgiving others brings about bitterness, and bitterness has been linked to stress-related illnesses by some medical researchers. By forgiving others, we free ourselves spiritually and emotionally. Forgiveness is an act of our own personal will in obedience and submission to God’s will, trusting God to bring emotional healing. 

It is impossible to live on this fallen planet without getting hurt, offended, misunderstood, lied to, and rejected.  But learning how to respond properly is one of the basics of the Christian life.  Jesus taught his disciples in the Lord’s Prayer, "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Matthew 614)

God help us to be more like Jesus and have compassion on sinners like Christ had, Amen!

 

Peace,