April 7, 2018

Bitterness is like cancer when it enters into a Christian’s life. It spreads throughout one’s being and cripples them for service for the Christ. It not only incarcerates their spirit into selfish bondage, it contaminates those they come into contact with. 

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he demonstrates how important the Lord felt it was to have forgiveness in the recipe for the model prayer. People are guaranteed to disappoint us at times. People do not live up to our expectations. Sometimes people can be downright rude and hurtful. Sometimes they have the ability to inflict pain on us and they do not even know what they are doing. Sometimes it is on purpose with evil intentions. Whatever the motive behind the emotional assault, no matter who the person is who inflicts the pain – family member, stranger, friend or whoever – we find these instructive and liberating words of Jesus to those who claim Him as their Savior: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).     

One helpful way for me to deal with those who have accidentally or purposefully hurt or tried to hurt me is to first take a good long look in the mirror at myself. The Apostle John teaches the Christian; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). I too am in need of forgiveness.                                                                                       

Haven’t I offended the Lord in thought, word or deed, and haven’t I also been guilty of hurting others either accidentally or even when I have purposefully lost my temper? Therefore, if I am to receive forgiveness, shouldn’t I have a strong empathy for fellow sinners? Secondly, we should not be amazed at people’s unkindness or even malicious intent. We should have a rudimentary understanding of why people behave the way they do since they are in the same sin-boat we are. Thirdly, and most importantly, look at the cross of Jesus. “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34). I praise God I am not God and therefore I do not have to be judge and jury of my fellow man. I can understand why people are nasty because I too am a sinner. So, I can choose not to take it personally. Because of this, with the Lord’s help, I can apply His prescription to the problem which was won for everyone at the cross. His prescription is called “forgiveness”. I can turn my nemeses over to the Heavenly Father and let God deal with them if they won’t come to reasonable loving terms with me.

Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Love in Christ,                                 

Pastor John Schofield