The theme of me forgiving my brothers and sisters in the Lord (fellow Christians) reappears often in Jesus' teachings.
It's in the Lord's Prayer (Matt.6:12,14-15): "forgive us our debts, as we forgive those indebted to us..." It's in lots of other places in His teachings (Matthew 18:21 and following, for example).
It's also connected with other teachings: John 13:34-35: 34 A give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, you also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Love and refusal to forgive are incompatible. I can't love whom I won't forgive.
Love is the lubricant, if you will, that makes the Christian's associations work smoothly; it's the water that a thirsty friend needs; it's the relief of knowing that some people really do care.
Forgiveness is necessary for love to exist.
Love is necessary for other people to understand why the Christian faith is completely different from others.
In other words, If I was the devil, the ONE thing I'd want to do is to divide Christians and make them angry and hateful toward each other, because then the world will have a tough time believing that they are disciples of Jesus, and by extension, they will feel quite comfortable rejecting Christ Himself.
That person you refused to forgive could be the key to peace and happiness in your own soul--and when you do forgive him or her, and develop the love you are commanded, it could be the gateway for you to share that love with everyone you know.
So you have three responsibilities:
3. Show it.
The fruit in your life will be the blessing of God in what you are and do.
I didn't say it was easy. It's often the hardest thing I'm called to do. But the Lord commands it.
As He said (Matthew 6:44):
"Love your enemies (tougher than loving your brothers and sisters, and forgiving them!). Bless the people who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who treat you badly and persecute you."
This is not easy. It's well-nigh impossible. It is still necessary.
One of the most compelling verses along this line is this one:
"Whoever says he loves God, yet hates his brother is a liar. If he doesn't love his brother, whom he can see, how can he love God, whom he cannot see?"
It's almost as if my brother or sister is what's visible of God to me.
Will you work on this with me?
Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.
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