Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seventy times seven (Ramble in paragraph form)

You have not loved me. You haven't sought forgiveness and it's obvious that you don't think you've even sinned against me. What's worse is you call yourself a Christian, one who seeks to glorify God in your actions. I don't want to forgive you. You do not deserve forgiveness.

I'm struggling to forgive a few people. Really struggling. I have to admit that the mere sight of them bothers me. I avoid them intentionally. I am hardly civil towards them. What on earth do you do when you don't want to forgive someone. What do you do when it seems like you can't forgive someone?

If I give myself enought time to sit quietly and ponder the question, the word of God rushes over me like a stream. I'm reminded of how Christ died for me before I sought his forgiveness for my sins against him. How he showed his love for me by enduring the wrath of God in my place while I was still his enemy. How he knew no sin but took on my sin. How I didn't deserve his forgiveness.

Yet, I still feel like Peter who asked the Lord, "how often will my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" The Lord answers the same way, every time..."I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." I don't like his answer. To keep it real, I hate his answer. Then I ask myself how I can who I am to withhold forgiveness when I've been forgiven so much? If the only wise God, creator and sustainer of all things, with whom I sin against daily, even sinning in my unwillingness to forgive someone, can bear with me and has already forgiven me, through Christ, in love, how can I withhold it? How can I say I love God and hate my brother?

So then, everytime I think someone doesn't deserve forgiveness, I'm reminded of how I don't deserve forgiveness either. I'm reminded of how I've failed to seek forgiveness. Everytime I think the italicized words in the beginning of this ramble about someone else, I should go look in the mirror and say them to myself. Afterall, I'm guilty of the same, aren't I? Calling myself a Christian, yet sinning against God and the brethren?

I'm sure my pride makes it difficult to obey and put his words into practice. The truth is I esteem myself too highly. I thank the Lord for bearing with me and bringing his loving kindness to my remembrance to convict me of my own sins (including unforgiveness). I'm not saying forgiving someone is easy once you remember all this. I'm saying it's necessary and reasonable based on the love Christ shows us. I pray the Lord helps me to forgive out of love and reverence for him.

Other stuff:

Colossians 3:12-14 (English Standard Version)

"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."

1 John 3:14-16 (English Standard Version)
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers."

Leviticus 19:17-18 (English Standard Version)

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (English Standard Version)
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."


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