The Basis for Our Forgiving

ImageLuke 4:17-21 – “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

“And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Those who have hurt us in the past were bound by a cruel master. Those in the most desperate spiritual, emotional and mental conditions are capable of doing the most inhuman deeds. However, we must remember that they are not the enemy. Our enemy does not bear flesh and blood.

Those who have offended, hurt, abused, mistreated or disregarded us are bound, blind, and oppressed. They are deceived and to be pitied, not hated. We are to seek their freedom from the enemy, not their eternal unity with him.

I am certain that some of the offenses and abuse that has come our way was allowed by a sovereign, holy God who wanted to present an opportunity for us to model the love, forgiveness and redemption of Jesus Christ. If the abuser cannot receive this redemption, there are plenty of other observers of our life who can see the glorious difference Christ makes in one who has suffered.


The Blessings of Trouble

During difficult times, we focus on Christ, His love for us, our love for Him and our trust in ImageHim. Eugene Peterson summarizes James 1:2-4 this way:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

Peter began his first letter on that theme. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7.

David’s life is a grand example of this. He wrote the deepest, most glorious Psalms when he was running for his life and depending upon God for his very existence (Psalm 34). During that time, he was very sensitive to right and wrong (1 Samuel 24), knowing that his relationship with God was vital to his survival.

Later in his life, when his position and life were secure, he enjoyed the riches and luxuries of his status as king, yet he neglected his duty to be with his troops, lusted after a soldier’s wife, committed adultery with her, lied to hide the sin, and committed murder, all without remorse or conviction until God sent a messenger (2 Samuel 12).

I am certain, based upon the promises of God, that when we know what God knows and see what God sees, we will thank Him most for the difficult times. He is certainly more concerned for the condition of our souls than the comfort of our bodies. That is for a great reason, because we are more eternally identified with our souls than our bodies.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37.

Draw near to God in these tough times and learn to trust Him more. That trust will last more than a lifetime.