Saturday, August 12, 2006

Power to Forgive

Matthew 5:21-22 (Today's New International Version)
Today's New International Version (TNIV)
© Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society

21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

I read Matthew's record of Jesus' words on anger this morning, with renewed thankfulness. I'm so grateful that at a time when my heart was bound up with hurt, anger and seemingly righteous judgment, God through the power of the Holy Spirit, led me into truth and freedom through showing me my own sin and need of forgiveness.

The journey continues as new opportunities present themselves to practise, in big and small ways, God's way of living and being. I don't find myself automatically applying what I learned in one situation, to the next challenge. It's as if I need to learn through practise, flexing the "forgiveness muscle" until it grows strong and able to do its work. This is crucial to following Jesus all the way to the cross. Who am I to think that I, his follower and servant, should be treated better than he?

It's good to consider what he suffered: rejection; humiliation; loneliness; misunderstanding; ingratitude; hatred; betrayal and physical suffering, and also to consider what I do to him still.

When I experience a hurt and find myself engaged in the indulgence of nursing it, I need to ask myself, have I done that very thing to the Lord? I confess that I am guilty of not trusting him fully, have neglected him and misunderstood him. Through his grace and mercy I have forgiveness for these sins. How then can I not lay down my right to offence when I experience them? This also short circuits the harbouring of unnecessary toxicity that does more harm to me than anyone else; especially when at some later time I often find that I had not completely understood the situation.

Prayer: Dear Lord - a step further on the journey, a clearer understanding, an even greater freedom and glad surrender of another part of "self".

Matthew 5:43-48 (Today's New International Version)
Today's New International Version (TNIV)
© Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society

Love for Enemies
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect

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