PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XC
Forgiveness is not a simple matter. It is not just saying, “I, or we are sorry,” but forgiveness is the willingness to subdue our pride and raise our humility to a level where both parties can look into each other’s eyes and negotiate the terms of forgiveness. It means to give up self-justification of the dominant party and accept the humiliating offender to agree to forgiveness and make it work.
JESUS OUR LORD AND SAVIOR SHOWED US HOW TO FORGIVE AND HOW TO LIVE IN CONSTANT FORGIVENESS
By coming into the world, Jesus initiated the act of forgiveness in order to offer forgiveness for a price! Yet, most people reject Jesus’ offer because they are not willing to turn their lives over to God, whom Jesus represented. To purchase forgiveness, Jesus was willing to die! And Jesus did lay down His Life. But, the people were not willing to repent and let go of their sinful ways. Jesus passed on the process of forgiveness to all us us. Forgiveness is the cord that restores and binds us human beings together and makes us members of God’s family and God’s Kingdom. And forgiveness can only take place when both parties act in the Spirit of Christ and at the same level. The offended must come down to the bottom where the one, in need of forgiveness, is. Jesus, our Christ, and our Lord, set Himself the example and Paul passed it on.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of Love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:1-13).
FORGIVENESS IS A CONTRACT MAINTAINED BY HUMILITY AND FAITHFULNESS
Humility induces forgiveness, provided it is truthful and trustworthy. False humility and dishonesty will betray us. The fruit we bear will expose us (Luke 6:44; Matthew 12:33). Nothing that we hide will remain hidden (Luke 12:2; Matthew 10:26). By practice and living in humility in public, forgiveness may come easier. Being humble does not mean that we must live in poverty and in rags; rather, it is living a life that is admired, envied, and trusted. Even the world, that rejects the Christian faith, will employ workers that are reliable and trustworthy. God-fearing employees make their employers very desirable in the public eye and in their business. For instance, Jesus noted how a dishonest, but a shrewd, and clever steward protected himself by stealing from his employer and making friends with his kind to take him in when he himself became permanently unemployed (Luke 16:1-9). In our system, such a person would have been incarcerated and unemployable. Such behavior infringes on forgiveness. At the end of the parable, Jesus concluded:
“He who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at ihm. But he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:10-15).
In the “Parable of the Pounds,” the servant that doubled their master’s profits were praised and promoted, but the one servant who did nothing with the one pound lost everything (Luke 19:11-21). The man brought his demise on himself and so will we with this kind of attitude. There was no forgiveness for him. Forgiveness is a man’s job and he has to go to the one that he has hurt and offended. If he can no longer go himself, then he can have someone carry him/her like the “paralytic” was by four men (Mark 2:1-5). Stop following some blind leader, who tells us that Jesus will take care of forgiveness for us. It was Jesus who gave these explanations, hinting at His own rejection for their disloyalty to Him and God.
He (the nobleman) said to him (Lazy servant), “I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.’ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ‘I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me’” (Luke 19:22-27).
FORGIVENESS CANNOT AND MUST NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED
Forgiveness is a seed that has to be planted or seeded in good soil. The seed of forgiveness also needs to be watered, weeded, and protected. It is very similar to the “Parable of the Weeds.” The world in which forgiveness is needed very much, is hostile.
Another parable Jesus put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven (which is in the heart of man) may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has is weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:34-39).
FORGIVENESS IS BREAD FROM HEAVEN AND IT FULLY SATISFIES
It is when we live on forgiveness, that our soul mind, spirit, and conscience are no longer hungry or thirsty, because the content and substance for ultimate forgiveness is Jesus the bread of life. No other bread can still our hunger for God and the life hereafter. The promise Jesus made to Marha and Mary is the same to all believers (John 11:23-27). We cannot stop feasting on Jesus spiritually and physically (Romans 12:1-2). It feels as if we eat Jesus flesh and drink His blood (I Corinthians 11:23-26). Jesus spoke plainly what His Sacrifice would entail to bring salvation to mankind.
Jesus said to them (Jews), “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:35-40).
“This is the bread of life which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to death?” So Jesus said to them, “Trulu, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever” (John 6:50-58).