And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:30-32 (ESV)
Wow! When I am bitter, or angry, or unforgiving, or ungodly, I grieve the Holy Spirit! Remember that the Spirit is the “comforter” that Jesus sent us to guide us and give us power. We grieve him? That saddens me. But more important, we see that we are to forgive “as God in Christ forgave”. What is the purpose of Jesus’ atoning actions if we grieve Him? If we learn nothing from His suffering? We need to forgive. We need to follow Christ’s example.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalms 103:8-13 (ESV)
This passage always convicts me. Many times, I want to “get even”, to repay someone for a wrong. But if I follow God as I claim, I need to remove others’ transgressions (forgive) and remove them as God does – as far as the east is from the west. That’s a difficult task! Some forgiveness is easy; some more difficult.
As I work through this study with you, I am beginning to understand something I’ve never seen before. As I forgive you for whatever I perceive is a wrong, I am also forgiving me for my poor attitude toward you. I wonder what changes in my attitude and behavior will do to change the attitude and behavior of those who I believe have wronged me? And I’m also realizing that I had a part in the problem that I am refusing to forgive. That’s a hard thing to come to terms with (don’t you usually feel that you’re closer to perfect than others? I know that I do!)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Col 3:12-15 (ESV)
Do you show compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience? I need more of all of those gifts. I also need to remember that we are one body. My unforgiveness leads to physical problems in my physical body; it also leads to problems in the body of Christ. I need to be bound in perfect harmony with my brothers and sisters. This can only happen if I forgive.
Two more verses this week:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matt 5:7 (ESV)
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 (ESV)
Who do you need to act mercifully toward? It will be difficult, I’m sure. But God commands it, demands it, and will help you accomplish it – if you simply ask.
I’m interested to see how this forgiveness thing is working in you. Please email me with prayer requests, comments, and praise reports! God can and will show us how to forgive. See you Monday!