2001-05-31 - What Goes Around Comes Around
The Lord's Prayer , Part 8
It always amazes me that God will use something to teach me something that I am getting ready to teach. Did that make sense? I have been teaching a series about Moses to the kids in my Bible Club...and a lady gave me a whole lot of books by J. Vernon McGee. Among them was a very profound commentary on the books of Exodus-Deuteronomy. This time, my pastor preached a whole sermon this last Sunday on the very point that I have reached in this series. God works in unusual ways, to be sure! I hereby promise to include a little of his sermon in this devotional.
In the first recorded sermon that Jesus gave, we read, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5:7)
In my life, I have found that the hardest thing for me to do is to keep on forgiving someone. "That's it, I've had it!". Or, "This is the last time that I am going to tell you...".
You know how it is, come on, be honest. That person who was rude to you at the grocery store. Your ex-wife/husband. Your brother, your sister, your spouse, your boss, your mom, your dad, your in-laws. In every person's life there is someone who the very mention of their name sets their teeth on edge.
"You don't know what he/she/they did to me!" Nope, I don't. But, God does, and He said to forgive them. Peter, thinking that he was truly being kind and giving, asked Jesus, "How many times should I forgive the person who has wronged me? Seven times seven?" (I can just see him polishing his fingernails on his shirtfront with that one, can't you?) Jesus looked back at him and declared, "Not seven times seven, but seventy times seven."
When you hold anger against a person longer than twenty-four hours, it becomes a grudge. Grudges have a way of holding a person hostage -- unfortunately, the one held hostage isn't the one you are angry with, it's you. Me. Trapped in a bowl of bitterness. It is awfully hard for the love of Christ to shine out of me or even into me when all that is on my mind is how she/he/they hurt me.
Why does God ask us to forgive? Because, for Jesus' sake, He forgave us. Jesus, who had his beard pulled out. Jesus, who was beaten beyond recognition. Jesus, who was spit on and mocked. Jesus, hanging on the cross. Jesus, who had all of our sins placed on Him. Jesus, who, in spite of all that; hanging in agony said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
"Forgive us our debts, just the same as we forgive our debtors."
Are you willing to ask God to withhold His mercy until you are through being angry with someone? For how long? Why not give the anger to God? Then keep giving it to God and keep giving it to God. At the same time, pray for that person or people. Ask God's blessing on them. Pray for their salvation. Pray that God would give them everything you want for yourself. The day will come when you will stand before God and hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful child". That's your goal, isn't it?
Lord, forgive me. I have wanted to exact a payment from someone who has hurt me. Just to hear him/her say I'm sorry. Or to see them hurt just as much as they hurt me. How selfish I am! I am so sorry. You never once have demanded that I pay for my sins. Your Son paid for them for me, and yet I want retribution. As if I were You. How wicked of me. I am so grateful that You are willing to forgive me. Thank You for Your forgiveness that overflows toward me. I love You. AMEN