Monday, July 23, 2012

The Real Tough Stuff

Sometimes the believer is called to some tough duty. I'm not talking about performing a ministerial type task such as teaching a bible study, or serving on the church board. Those things might be a minor inconvenience at times, but the real tough stuff we face is when the Word calls us out on an issue and expects us to do it! It can make for some squirming in the pews on Sunday morning.

Today's words from Jesus is exactly one of those moments.

Mark 11:25-26 (Amplified Bible) - "(25) And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. (26) But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings."

Jesus has the uncanny ability to let us know we need to be doing something which effects our relationship with others, all the while turning the focus right back on ourselves (where it really needs to be).

Is that you today? Have you pondered blessing someone with your forgiveness in order to show them and God how gracious you are? Do you really think that's what this passage is about?

I am always surprised when I see how often this passage is preached from the very narrow perspective of us doing something for others.

You know what? The tension of the verse is on "In order that...".

This is about "Us" not "Them".

We need to forgive for our right standing with God. It's about our shortcomings and failures. And way too often our failures are all wrapped up in a hardened unforgiving heart. Festering anger due to not being able to forgive an abusive parent, cheating spouse, non-appreciative child, overbearing boss, and on and on and on...

There are no abuses we have suffered at the hands of people in our lives that don't qualify to be forgiven as far as God is concerned. At least none that I have found in scripture.

And as distasteful as it might be to even give one second in thought over the forgiveness of some people who have actually single handedly destroyed the quality of your life for perhaps many years...the fact remains God says we MUST!

Actually, we MUST so surely, that if we obstinately refuse to obey God on this issue, our very forgiveness of our own failures and shortcomings (and yes, we all have them) are at risk of not being forgiven by Him.

That's scary. 

So, just how angry are you? How much hatred is pent up inside of you? Enough to go to hell for?

A man said those very words to me years ago. I explained that he needed to forgive those who had so deeply offended him. His response was, "I will go to hell first!" When I explained that it could be a very viable option if he doesn't forgive, he approached the subject more soberly. He eventually was able to open his heart and forgive and reconcile the people who had hurt him.

You see...unforgiveness is a shortcoming. It's a spiritual and moral failure before God and man.

Unforgiveness will eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all snacks in between. It will dine on your heart and devour you from the inside out. It will send you to your grave broken, mean, and nasty. Do you see why that person does not get into heaven?

Fortunately, if your breathing and reading this, you have time to react to the Word of God and satisfy God's demand.

You won't be able to do this on your own. Why not pray God's help? Why not appeal to the Comforter? 

It is God's desire for you to be set free from this. He is simply waiting to see what your desire is.

Be blessed!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

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