Sitting with the Shepherd
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV)
The Pharisees were concerned with outward appearances, while Jesus Christ was more interested in condition of one's heart. He said that the world would identify His true disciples by their love for one another. The apostle John said, "If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"(1 John 4:20 NKJV) Satan on the other hand often disrupts the harmony of the church by causing schisms among the brethren, seeking to steal, kill and destroy our Christian fellowship.
Often times our anger against a brother or sister in the Lord is founded on misconceptions or an incomplete understanding of all the facts in a given situation. I have heard it said that to harbor a spirit of bitterness or resentment is likened to "drinking a glass of poison and waiting for the other person to die!" Or there is the old adage that "unforgiveness does much more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured!"
The person who is unable to forgive is the one who doesn't truly grasp the significance of God's forgiveness of themselves. So when we don't understand how much God has forgiven us we don't see the need to forgive one who has offended us. We become easily offended and harbor a superior attitude of pride over our offender. Jesus is saying here that if we aren't convicted of our own sinfulness and need for God's mercy, our heart condition might be indicative of the fact that we ourselves are unregenerate and doomed to suffer the fires of Hell. That is a matter that deserves serious consideration.
For those coming out of a life dominated by sin, bitterness and resentment are open doors that can lead to relapse. We might once again find ourselves captive to the bondage that once held us in slavery. This is a serious enough threat to cause Jesus to say, "This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God." (Matthew 5:23-24 MSG)
Questions for Meditation or Discussion
1. How is it that our treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ is a reflection of our love for God?
2. What do we need to consider in forgiving others for offences committed against us?
3. Why is harboring resentments against another so dangerous for those coming out of bondage to life dominating sin?
Heavenly Father blessed be Your Holy Name. Thank You for price that You paid for the forgiveness of my sin against You. I know that nothing that another human being does to me could ever compare to that. Grant me the grace to forgive those who have offended me, so that I can continue to walk in fellowship with You. Amen