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Forgiveness Must Be Practiced

Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.


I believe forgiveness is one of the best attributes of salvation. I can’t think of a better description of salvation other than forgiveness.


Forgiveness is the pardon you received as a wretched sinner, and yet you know you do not deserve it. It is hard for most of us to receive from God because our lives are based upon a system of merit. If I achieve the goals or objectives set before me, then I am worth the reward. Right?


God’s system is different. He offers forgiveness and disregards the merit system. After all, nothing I could ever do would be enough to earn His forgiveness based upon merit.

That is why forgiveness is an incredible gift that God gives to all humans through Jesus Christ.


I have a friend who has been a Christian leader for several years, but whose married life has not been stellar since he has been divorced several times. In a conversation with someone about this friend, they made a comment about his several divorces. The person said to me, "It is too bad as a gifted person he will never find a ministry that would hire him due to his marital failures."  As I reflected on this comment, I knew it was true, but I didn't want to accept it. Character is an important element when hiring for a position of leadership in the Body of Christ. We don't hire morally corrupt people, and that includes anyone who has been divorced. I am in no way minimizing divorce, but in our culture, 51% of married couples get divorced. (That statistic includes couples in the Church.) Somewhere in the entanglements of divorce, there has to be forgiveness, and restoration needs to take place.


As the Church teaches about the Cross and the reason Jesus came to earth, there must be room for the mistakes we make to be removed. There is no sin, no mistake, and no offense committed that the atonement of Jesus on the Cross cannot forgive. Jesus taught that in the same measure, we forgive sin, our sin will be forgiven.


There is one institution in our culture that teaches that God's grace forgives all sin and makes us as if we never sinned. It is total forgiveness, never to be remembered again by God. Yet, people are not as forgiving as God. Churches and ministries can be quite pharisaical about forgiveness. As with my friend with several divorces, does the sin of divorce define him for the rest of his life? No one knows the details of the divorce, and no one should, but either there is forgiveness of God that is complete forgiveness, or forgiveness has conditions. Which is it?


If we were to have a sin meter attached to our lives, would the number of sins that would tally in one day be too many for God to forgive? This may sound ridiculous, but my point is, that we don't serve sin as Christians, but sin is in our mortal bodies.


1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


As I read Scripture, I am reminded about two things:


      1.            Always live in a state of confession.

      2.            Always live in a state of forgiveness.


This is what defines grace for me.


Recently, I heard a sermon that was titled, ‘Church Hurt.’ The pastor made the case that people are carrying around with them hurts from Church leadership or other Christians, and there is no forgiveness applied. People come to Church with their offerings of praise and worship, yet still live in unforgiveness. Many of these Christians stopped coming to Church because of the hurt they say happened. I am not saying ‘Church Hurt’ isn’t real, but regardless of the of the hurt, forgiveness must be given. Jesus said if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. Forgiveness releases the hurt so it no longer is an obstacle to keeping you from growing in your faith in God. I have spent most of my adult life in the Church, and ‘Church Hurt’ has been a part of my own experience. It is hard to forgive some people because of their cruelty and arrogance, but there is nothing that disqualifies anyone from being forgiven.


Living in forgiveness is the best way to free your life from the entanglements of bitterness and resentment. Remember, in the same way, God has forgiven you, you are to forgive others.


Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler



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