Forgiveness

Matthew 18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Matthew 18 gives the account of a servant who was forgiven a great debt by his lord, only to later persecute a fellow servant for a relatively small debt.

How often our story is like that of the wicked servant. We will never comprehend the depth of grace that Christ has extended to us, and yet our response is to harbor un-forgiveness in our hearts.

For mankind, forgiveness is not a natural response. In many cases it may be the most difficult choice we make. We struggle with the ability to forgive because we will never fully understand what forgiveness is.

Forgiveness is not verbal. Merely uttering the words, “I forgive you”, changes nothing. In the verse above we see that forgiveness is an issue of the heart. While it may be important for us to express the words, those words may be uttered from a heart filled with bitterness and hatred.

When someone has wronged us our hearts quickly begin to plot revenge. We can know that we have genuinely forgiven someone when our heart lets go of our right to revenge. One author put it this way, “We know we have forgiven when the name of the one who has wronged us is safe in our mouth.”

Forgiveness may be reflected in our actions by refusing to casting the first stone. Even more so, forgiveness is refusing to pick the stone up in the first place because our heart has no desire for revenge.

The only One Who has the right to extract judgment or seek revenge for our sin is God. Yet He chooses to separate us from our sin as far as the east is from the west and He remembers that sin no more. (Proverbs 103:12)

We are incredibly blessed in that. But with any blessing comes with a great responsibility. God’s instructions to us are that we are to do the same with those who have sinned against us – we are commanded to forgive.

Is what we are hiding in our hearts today worth the blessings we are missing? In the end we are only hurting ourselves. Refusing to forgive carries a heavy price tag that brings with it great loss.

Forgiving rarely changes the person who wronged us – but it will always change us!

Where do you need to start today? Who do you need to truly forgive?

Tomorrow

Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

How often as we race toward our plans for tomorrow, do we run past God’s plan for us today?

Matthew 6:34 instructs us to take no thought for tomorrow, yet if we are transparent, our minds are constantly occupied with tomorrow.

cal1Companies like Day-Timer, Evernote and Sunrise have all been started with the sole purpose of helping us plan our tomorrows. And we plan, schedule and organize with relentless passion as we look for the opportunities that tomorrow will bring.

The greatest danger we face in being consumed with tomorrow, is that we risk running past the “today” that God has planned for us.

When we are focused on tomorrow we may miss our moment – sometimes God’s plan for our today is to bring the opportunity to us. Our vision for what tomorrow may bring may begin with who is standing in front of us at this moment. A wise pastor once told his students, “Our interruptions are our ministry.”

That text message, phone call, or smiling face standing in the doorway could very well be a divinely created moment in our day. Don’t let the future rob us of the moments that God brings into our lives.

When we are focused on the future we miss our purpose – most of our plans for the future have to do with change. It may be a change in our appearance, a promotion, a new skill, or countless other changes that we perceive as bringing value to our lives.

Reality is that most of those plans will never come to pass, they will remain where they are right now – in the future. Our purpose is here; it is in the today that God has planned for us. His desire is for us to be the change He has planned!

When we are focused on the future we miss our mission – the last portion of Matthew 6:34 says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Our mission is not tomorrow – tomorrow is God’s to plan.

Ministry takes place in the here and now today with the people who God places in our path, people who are hurting, people who are discouraged, people who have given up on both today and tomorrow.

For many of them our ministry today of an encouraging word, a touch of comfort or a random act of kindness can restore hope that was lost.

It’s possible that today, you are a part of God’s plan for someone else’s tomorrow! What will you do with the moments, the purpose and the mission that God has for you TODAY?