The Beauty of Forgiveness

250px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_ProjectOn a scale from 1-10, one being the easiest and ten being the hardest, how would you rate your ability to forgive someone in the following situations. Afterwards, ask yourself,  “Does my desire to forgive depend on the severity of the offense?”

1. Your sibling borrows your coat jacket for a backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies and loses it. He later asks for forgiveness face-to-face and buys a new jacket and a 12 pack of Coca-Cola. 2.  A close family member forgets to call you on your birthday and doesn’t even send you a message on Facebook. 3. Your best friend gets shot and murdered by a robber. 4. Someone cuts you off at an intersection, cusses you out, and says it’s your entire fault even though he was speeding through the traffic light. 5. You find out that your spouse or fiancée is cheating on you.

What does it mean to forgive? Forgiveness is an intentional, voluntary change in feelings regarding an offense, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Is forgiveness the same thing as excusing or forgetting the offense? What if the person never apologizes for the offense? Do you still have to forgive him or her?

Jesus helps clarify how believers are to forgive others. He told his disciples, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44).” When Peter asked Jesus, “How often are we to forgive, up to seven times?” Jesus responded, “Not 7, but 7 times 77.” Jesus’ comment isn’t to be taken literally, but is a figurative statement meaning forgive no matter what.

In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is invited over to a Pharisees house for dinner. While Jesus is interacting with others inside, a sinful woman comes in, uninvited, and starts to weep at Jesus’ feet. With her tears, she wipes his feet and anoints them with ointment. When the Pharisees see this, they become angry and shout, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

Jesus then tells a story about a moneylender who had two debtors. One owed 20 months worth of wages and the other owed about two months’ wages. When both of them could not pay, the moneylender cancelled the debt of both. Jesus asked one of the Pharisees, “Which of them will love more?” Simon answered, “The one for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Jesus agrees and demonstrates how the sinful woman reflected the beauty of forgiveness. Though she had many sins, her forgiveness was much greater than the Pharisees. This was evident by the way she approached Jesus, showing humility with her tears and hospitality by anointing his feet.

All of us have a debt to be paid and need forgiveness. No matter how small or great our sins are, God is willing to forgive. In Acts 13:38, the apostles state: “I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” This is the greatest news ever told. If you are in need of forgiveness, call out to God. He is our High Priest, prepared to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Don’t miss the opportunity. Do it today.

What is Genuine Repentance?

REPENTANCE....(Camp Trip outpost 253) Be set free.

“From that time on, Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near (Matt. 3:2).”

Imagine that you have a warm, juicy, raw piece of steak on the table getting ready to be placed on the grill to eat. In order to protect it from being eaten, you put a short enough chain around your dog’s collar to keep him from jumping on the table. What do you think the dog will do? He will immediately run toward that sweet aroma and use all his energy to rip or bite off that chain from his neck, and in no time, devour the steak.

Often times as Christians, we put chains of safeguards to prevent us from satiating our sinful desires. It is wise to have accountability, google safe search on your internet, curfews, and sketchy places that you avoid. However, if you haven’t been born-again, died to your old nature, and been given the mind of Christ, you will eventually give in to your lusts. In the illustration above, what’s the only true way to prevent the dog from eating the steak? To completely change his will or desire.

There is a major difference between preventing yourself from sinning and having a change of mind toward sin. Let’s briefly discuss what Jesus meant in this passage by the term repentance. Repentance is a misunderstood term that is used widely by Christians. Some argue its “turning from sin,” but this is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the Greek word (metanoia) is where we get our English word for metamorphous or “change”. The Scripture teaches that when one repents, they have a change of mind that leads to a change of action.

The apostle Paul declared in Acts 26:20 that he preached so people would repent, turn to God, and prove their repentance by their deeds. Does this mean that repentance is a work we do to earn salvation? Absolutely not. No one can repent and come to God unless God grants it (Jn 6:44; Acts 5:31; 11:18). All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God opening our eyes and changing our deceitful hearts to trust and obey Him. Only  when God changes our will are we able to have a true repentant heart that leads to godliness. If you haven’t put your trust in Jesus, I pray you would do that today! God bless.