The Only Thing of Value

"The only thing of value you have to share with anyone else is what I have done for you."

Do you want mercy or judgment? God

Bob Matt 6:15 - But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Multiple Spigots of Grace? In his delightful book "Pursuing the Mind of Christ," Dale Ward points out how immature Christians think that God's grace flows out of multiple spigots, like the 'Hillbilly Spigots' in the picture to the left. They think that they can shut off the forgiveness spigot and still enjoy the undiminished flow of God's grace in other areas of their lives. Not so! When it comes to God's grace, there's just one spigot. Shut off the valve in order to withhold forgiveness, and you will impact the flow of grace in every other area of your life.

Mercy or Judgment? Have you fallen for the popular notion that God automatically forgives as soon as we say, "Sorry?" Indeed, we should be sorry for our sins. But that's just the beginning. Jesus says that God will forgive you ONLY if you forgive others (Matt 6:14-15). In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5), Jesus says that there is ONLY one group of people who will receive mercy - the merciful. In Matt 18:35 Jesus again warns us to "forgive from the heart." These are all red-letter passages. If you don't forgive others, you're no longer under God's mercy. Instead, you've placed yourself under His judgment. Not even Mother Theresa wants to be in that place!

(Ps 143:2 NIV) - Do not bring Your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.

Pettiness - "Why such big grudges over such little things?"

Pettiness and unforgiveness are twin spirits.

Closure - Many Christians claim that in order to forgive, they must first have "closure" from the one who offended them. It's a popular belief (psychobabble), but you won't find it anywhere in God's Word. It's just one more excuse for holding onto resentment. God is all the closure you need.

"How can I forgive when I don't have closure?"

I understand. Is that not enough?

Hardheartedness - And then there's the famous, "I'll forgive, but I won't forget!"

God must be extremely tired of Christians who say that they can't forgive . . . . or that they don't need to forgive. How are they different from people who say they can't give up adultery, or don't need to? God isn't interested in our excuses. He's interested in our obedience. I was near the bottom of Savage Gulf one lovely spring day when the Holy Spirit reminded me,

Jesus did not call us to a life of perfection. He called us to a life of forgiveness.

The extent of unforgiveness among God's children bears witness to the hardness of our hearts. If only you knew how much the Holy Spirit is hurt by our hard-heartedness! If you have ears to hear, maybe you too will hear His soft voice saying, almost weeping,

This should not be so!

Why So Difficult? - Forgiveness is not easy. But Jesus insists that we get it right. Did you ever ask Him why something that is so essential to the Christian life is so universally difficult? I did.

"I'm a failure at this. No matter how many times I've forgiven, the old anger and resentment keeps coming back. The truth of the matter is, I can't forgive." I was stunned when the Lord replied very calmly

I know you can't.

He let my predicament sink in for a while before explaining that our carnal sinful nature will not forgive, nor is it able to forgive. The only thing our carnal nature knows to do is to harbor resentment and endlessly replay past offenses in our minds - a destructive behavior that each of us knows only too well! Genuine forgiveness becomes possible only as we die to self and give control of our lives to the Holy Spirit.

Let It Go! - Is it worth it to trade God's pleasure and your eternal reward for the momentary sweet taste of bitterness? Let it go! (Ann Graham Lotz, The Glorious Dawn of God's Story")