Friday, December 29, 2017

Press On

Do you have a number of circumstances of pain when perhaps someone sinned against you or trespassed? The Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”  (Matthew 6:12). Other translations say “sin or trespass” against you.  Well, if you are like me there are many such events or circumstances. This is one of the hardest parts of life, but God. It is about forgiveness. One of my favorite pastors said about this, “have a funeral.” Bury it and don’t look back. Don’t build an altar for it as it will be with you and follow you the rest of your life.

So what does Jesus have to say about this, I warn you, His teachings are very hard. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Later in the sermon He says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you…Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?...take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck from your brother’s eye”  (Luke 6:37,41-42). We need to look at ourselves humbly first and deal with our problems. In fact in Matthew 5:24 Jesus says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”  Getting reconciled is of higher priority than offering gifts. Having a forgiving spirit and clean conscience is up at the top of God’s list. Yet, His Son had to die for our sins, debts and trespasses to be forgiven, as we trust in Him. We often cannot forgive without the power, mercy and grace of God within us through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. So keep forgiving brothers and sisters. How many times you say? Infinitely God says in Matthew 18:21. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation as 2 Corinthians 5:18,19,20 tells us, it is “reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.”

Matthew 18 gives us guidance as Christians when we face the trials of reconciliation. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two other along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” This requires persistence and humility as you too might be at fault and need to listen and stay open to God’s conviction in the matter.

Putting these circumstances, conflicts, and relationships behind us is vital to our continuing and finishing strong in our faith lives. The Apostle Paul teaches us in his letter to the Philippians very wisely.  He is speaking of his own walk saying, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But ONE THING I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining forward toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). He is saying forgive and forget, and move on. In todays vernacular this would be “Let it go” or “Shake it off.”

In Hebrews 12, the writer talks of endurance saying, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1-2). What is hindering you from moving on or holding you in anger or fear or sadness? With whom are you unreconciled as much as it depends upon you and it is possible to be at peace, as Paul tells us in Romans 12:18? Move on, move forward knowing there will be tough times or people. There are hard things in this race of life. So, “suck it up” and reach forward toward the goal and prize He has for us in heaven.

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