Forgiveness isn’t in vogue anymore.
I don’t even have a Facebook or a Twitter account, and I can easily see the hate that spews from every pore of those platforms simply by watching the evening news or listening to the radio on my way to work. My children bicker and fight at home over the silliest of things. My wife and I will correct them, and possibly even discipline them—but it keeps on happening. My wife and I quarrel over the bills or other situations that we don’t agree on. I’ll admit freely, I’ve gone to bed angry more than once.
At church though, our hearts and our minds are always on a higher calling and we agree on the path forward as one…wait, no that isn’t true either. Our favorite snack on the way home from a Divine Service is all too often roast Pastor, roast organist, or roast volunteer. We disagree on when the fellowship get-togethers will be, and what format they will follow. We disagree on *insert your issue here* and we can’t get over it, so we stop coming to church either out of spite or in grief and sorrow over the conflict. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Gal 5:15)
Even the unbeliever can see we live in a fallen and broken world. Make no mistake- we broke it, none of us are innocent. Our consciences condemn us, and when we reflect on God’s law, our hearts are convicted. But it doesn’t have to stay that way! The Gospel proclaims Jesus’ mighty deeds: living a perfect life, resisting all temptation, dying an innocent death on the cross for our sins, rising from the dead, and ascending back into heaven to prepare a place for us. Paul penned in Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Think on it: GOD died for your sins. GOD, who occupies every square nanometer of the entire universe, and all-time forever. GOD, all-powerful, died and rose for you! HE died so that ALL sins (past, present, and future!) could be forgiven. God doesn’t need your PayPal account either, the bill was already paid when Jesus died on the cross, and he gives it away freely! It’s mind-boggling, it’s amazing (to put it mildly) and one day in eternity…I probably still won’t be able to wrap my arms all the way around it.
Enemies in this life come cheap and easy, we don’t need to help them along. Be different, FORGIVE. Not once or twice but “…until seventy times seven…” (Mat 18:22). In other words, feel free to lose count! “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col 3:13) As I mentioned previously, God forgave us while we were still sinners. Forgive your brothers and sisters in Christ before they ask. Forgive strangers and even your enemies even if they never ask. Holding onto a grudge is a poison!
We all have our struggles in life with sin, I know I certainly do. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” (Gal 5:22-23) I wish I could lay claim to all of these, or even just a solid one! But I am only a work in progress. Fruit is something that comes with time and perseverance. Let the Spirit work in and through you; come out to church to hear and read the Word of God. Take support and be the support of fellow believers. Plant your roots in Jesus’ soil and see the fruits He will grow with your faith that he gives as generously as he gives forgiveness.