Joe McKeever on the Importance of Forgiveness for the Christian

Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:8)

JACKSON, Miss, (BP) — Dr. Watson was complimenting Sherlock Holmes on a brilliant observation no one else had noticed.

“Of course,” Holmes remarked. “It’s what I do.”

Forgiveness and grace — that’s what we believers do.

Here is one page from Ruth Bell Graham’s 1989 book, “Legacy of a Pack Rat,”:

“Someone has said, ‘If there had not been a Stephen, there might never have been a Paul.'”

“A tribal war was raging in Uganda. The soldiers led a line of prisoners to a bridge over a crocodile-infested river where they could shoot them and dump their bodies into the water for the crocodiles to dispose of.

“Among the prisoners that day was a young Christian. When his turn came to be shot, he asked permission to say a word first. ‘Make it quick,’ his captors ordered. The young man looked at them calmly, without fear.

“‘I am a Christian,’ he said. ‘I am not angry with you, for the same Jesus Whom I shall see in a few moments died for you as well. I forgive you. May you accept His forgiveness also.’

“They shot him. Turning to the next in line, they recognized a man from another tribe. ‘What are you doing here?’ they demanded. ‘We are not at war.’ And he was abruptly dismissed.

“But that young man was never the same again. He spent the rest of his life sharing his new discovery of the risen, transforming Savior.

“He had watched a Christian die.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I are not perfect, only forgiven. After receiving God’s grace, we are sent into the world to bless others. We do this by extending our own forgiveness and love to those who might otherwise deserve censure and condemnation.

Anyone can exclude and condemn; grace includes. Grace surprises.

Scripture establishes two standards for the forgiveness Christians offer to others:

1) As Christ has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13)

If Jesus has cut corners and hedged on His forgiveness to us, we may do the same to others. However, Colossians 2:11-15 gives a long list of what His forgiveness accomplished.

2) As we want God to forgive us. (Matthew 6:12 and Luke 11:4)

We get to decide. We just have to figure out to what extent we want to be forgiven for our sins, and then do the same to others. Nothing could be simpler.

If you will, He will. (Matthew 6:14)

if you don’t, He won’t. (Matthew 6:15)

The channel through which we receive grace and forgiveness from God is the same one through which we extend it to others. If we clog it up by refusing to forgive others, no further forgiveness will be forthcoming for ourselves.

If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven.

Among the most inexplicable traits of humans that surely must exasperate the Lord is our unwillingness to give to others what Christ has so freely extended to us. Jesus told of a fellow who was relieved of an astronomical debt, but who then had a man arrested for an outstanding debt of a few dollars (Matthew 18:21-35). The human heart is constantly setting new records for harshness and blazing fresh trails for callousness.

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Source: Baptist Press