Category: forgiveness

Spring Cleaning – By Matt Miller

A couple of weeks ago we began to experience what astronomers indicate is the season of Spring. Typically, those who garden here in Oklahoma will often say something like don’t plant before Easter.
We had one of those unique meeting of the seasons not that many days ago where in the middle of our springtime weather, we saw ice, sleet, and snow. Oklahoma’s weather is interesting in that way isn’t it? With this season of spring and the changing of our weather to warm days and cool evenings, refreshing rains and the palette of color in the outdoors transforming before our eyes from dull browns to lush greens, we often choose a weekend, a week or a day for deep cleaning our spaces. We often call this cleaning our “spring cleaning”. It’s that time when we clean more than just the daily or weekly spots that we always get around to cleaning routinely. It’s when we get up on the ladder and clean off the tops of those ceiling fans, dust the top shelf and above our China-hutches. We throw all that stuff out in our closet that doesn’t fit, and some pack up their winter clothes and bring out those made for warmer weather. Whatever your spring-cleaning routine includes and looks like, may I suggest that we look to our spiritual man and do a bit of tidying up there as well?

Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (Jhn 3:5). As Christians, we connect that birth with baptism. Jesus specifically told Nicodemus there that one must be born of water and the Spirit. In his Epistles, Paul describes that one in Christ has become a new creature or a new man (2Co 5:17; Col 3:10-12). That new man though, Paul says comes from the death of the man of sin, our former self and our self-centered conduct. Notices that the Apostle Paul in Rom 6:3-10 lays out how baptism connects us with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Because of that spiritual birth and the relationship that we have by way of that birth, we have put the old man of sin to death and been renewed spiritually.

The Psalmist prayed for a clean heart and renewed spirit (Psa 51:10). So we should petition God for such cleansing and renewal. We know that such is granted to the child of God. In fact, the Hebrew writer tells us, [Heb 10:22 NKJV] 22 “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

That spiritual renewal should be going on in our lives day by day, but as we so easily slip into complacency, the springtime is a good time to evaluate where we are and where we are headed. Here are a few thoughts that might help us spiritually to shake off the dust and weed out the things that aren’t helpful, and maybe even get rid of that which hinders us from being better servants of God.

Are we putting on the characteristics of the new man, or have we forgotten our new identity and slid back into former ideas concerning who we are?

[Col 3:10-12 NKJV] 10 and have put on the new [man] who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave [nor] free, but Christ [is] all and in all. 12 Therefore, as [the] elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

We need to pay special attention there to verse 12, as it describes characteristics which must be at our core and demonstrated in the life that we live. As a contrast with this, consider what Paul told the Ephesians about who they shouldn’t be.

[Eph 4:18-23 NKJV] 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

As we clean our homes this spring, let us examine who and what we have let into our lives.

Clean out the bad influence for “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal 5:9).

Root out those thoughts and ideas that are weighing us down or dragging us back toward sin.

[Phl 4:8-9 NKJV] 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Forgive. Forgive yourself, and forgive others. This is fundamental and Jesus taught it side by side with prayer (Matt 6:12-14). We have been forgiven so much, because of our relationship with God in Christ. We need to remember that and remember that because of the debt we could not pay, we must forgive the debt of others as demonstrated in Jesus Parable of the unforgiving servant (Mat 18:21-35).

Let’s clean out our lives in this season and be renewed spiritually. Make sure that our minds aren’t being polluted by the people we are letting into our lives, and let’s take control of our minds and our thinking so that we are focused on righteousness, love, and serving God. Let’s be an influence in the lives of others for such high and noble things as we have been called and help others then see that Jesus is the only way to eternal life and true happiness.

Forgive & Forgiving – By Matt Miller

[Mat 6:9-13 NKJV] 9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as [it is] in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

We might recognize the scripture here as “The Lord’s Prayer”. You might have recited it daily at school growing up. It is and was taught by the Lord as a model for how we should pray. How to address God
and petition Him. I want to call our attention though to verse 12 here. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This phrase petitions for forgiveness, but links our forgiveness by God to
our own forgiveness of others. Does the link between the two stick in our head? Do we remember that we have to forgive? In fact, forgiving others is fundamental to our love. We do it all the time within our families, within our homes. It is so natural in that context that we don’t even think about it most of the time. In that context, it seems easy doesn’t it?

Yet in other contexts, we find it quite difficult. It strikes me that this is the very point maybe of what Jesus was conveying as he was teaching prayer here. For in the very next verse, Matthew records for us that Jesus calls this point out.

[Mat 6:14 NKJV] 14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
We see that Jesus describes as one of the conditions of our forgiveness we must forgive others. As Jesus disciples pressed for just how forgiving they must be, Jesus explained it by way of parable.

[Mat 18:21-35 NKJV] 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 “And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 “But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 “The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took [him] by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 “And he would
not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 “So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” When conveyed as debt, do we better understand sin and our forgiveness? Our sin is a debt that we cannot repay. There is no way to take it back, make recompense that fixes it or can remove the spot. Forgiveness then is the only answer. This is true for us in relation to God, and it is true between us as we have troubles caused by our imperfections, faults, and outright damages done to one another as men and women. Paul describes those in Christ as being part of the household of faith (Gal 6:10) and compels us to do good toward each other. The
beginning of doing good to one anther maybe is to have the kind of forgiveness that Jesus described as being required. Paul told the Ephesians and Colossians that forgiveness was something to be offered as we have ourselves been forgiven by Christ.

[Eph 4:32 NKJV] 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

[Col 3:13 NKJV] 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also [must do].

So forgiveness is a condition for us to meet. God by way of the gospel provided the conditions by which we could be forgiven. Paul describes it in part, [Rom 5:6-8 NKJV] 6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

In order to find forgiveness, it starts with being in Christ, but then it also is required of us to forgive. When we forgive, we release. We no longer hold to account the wrongs of others. This is what Jesus
was teaching the Apostles, and this is what Paul was telling these early Christians. This is what we must also apply to all of our relationships today. It is a condition for our own forgiveness.

Forgiveness is grace, and mercy. Forgiveness liberates. Forgiveness is love. Forgiveness heals. When we think about all the ugliness of our sin, we should be made to be further in awe of our God, who has made for us a path and set of conditions wherein our sins might even be forgiven. So forgive. Forgive and be free of the weight not of your neighbors’ debt, but that of your own debt.