Thursday, November 30, 2023

Pass it On - The Measureless Grace of God

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times?” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

Pass It On - The Measureless Grace of God

When we have been hurt by the actions of someone else, it is a tricky situation to navigate through so that we deal with it in a way that glorifies Christ. Peter asks Jesus one day about how many times he was supposed to forgive someone who has hurt him. Peter guesses seven times but Jesus lets him know that the number is much greater. Jesus then goes on to tell Peter and the disciples a story about a servant who owed an enormous debt – ten thousand pounds, equivalent to several millions of dollars. The servant’s lord forgave him the debt. Free from the overwhelming and impossible debt he had, the servant sought out another servant who owed him a debt, much smaller than the one he had been forgiven. He had no intention of forgiving the other servant the debt he owed him even though he had just been forgiven an overwhelming debt that he would never be able to pay.

Jesus was answering Peter by explaining that we should forgive as we have been forgiven. The first servant had been forgiven all, and he then should have forgiven all. As children of God by faith through Christ, we have had all sins forgiven. When someone offends or sins against us we should be willing to forgive because of the grace and forgiveness we have been given through Jesus Christ – for an overwhelming debt we could never pay. When Jesus told Peter that he should forgive 70 times 7, He didn’t mean we should limit the times we forgive someone to a number at all. We are called to forgive with as much grace the thousandth time as Jesus does for us every time – with an abundant, overflowing and measureless grace that God pours out on us every time. 

We are to live out our faith in every situation for the glory of God, which also means to forgive as you have been forgiven. Forgiveness does not depend on the actions of the other person. Reconciliation depends on the actions of the other person, but forgiveness is about you and happens in your heart. Forgiveness can happen even if the offending person is not repentant or has not asked for forgiveness. Forgiving is the barrier to resentment and bitterness. By forgiving, we let go of the wrong, not holding it over that person. When we let go of the wrong, we let go of the root of bitterness and resentment. 

The only response to wrong that the Word of God commands the Christian to is love.  There is no right to judge, condemn, criticize or hate.  This requires more than a human understanding or response. Forgiveness is not an option for the believer. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven.  For most of us (all of us if we will admit it), that’s a whole lot of forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness doesn’t make it easier to forgive, but it does make it more meaningful and understanding the process could make us more likely to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to give.

Overlooking a transgression is to look beyond the transgression as well as the transgressor. It is the power of God working in us that enables us to look beyond. As we forgive, we bring glory to God ... we are never more like God than when we show mercy and grace and forgiveness. Jesus modeled grace and forgiveness when He was on earth and on the cross, He displayed the greatest act of grace and forgives of all time. Without that forgiveness from Jesus, we could not forgive anyone. His grace and forgiveness in our lives is the only way it possible for us to forgive others. 

God calls us to forgive – 70 times 7. Over the span of our lifetime, God forgives us many more times than that. Forgiveness is one of the greatest ways we live out our faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we only ever study the Bible and don’t live out the Gospel with our lives, we are just reading a book. God’s intention for us is that we are transformed by the Gospel and a relationship with Him, and we then take that to the rest of the world, living it out with our lives to the people around us every day. 

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