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16 January 2012

Forgiveness - 16 January

Is forgiveness getting any easier for you? I’m still struggling! As I was preparing for today’s study, I started to think about personal responsibility versus becoming a victim. I wonder how much of the unforgiveness in my life stands firm because I choose to act like a victim? Yikes.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:9-12 (ESV)

(The word sin means “to miss the mark, to fall short of a standard, to do or go wrong, to violate God’s law”. Righteous means “to be free of  guilt and sin; to be conformed to God’s standard, not man’s).

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23 (ESV)

So what? How does this apply to forgiveness? How does falling short of God’s glory impact the way s/he hurt me? Could it be that I managed to hurt them, too????? And when did all this sin stuff start, anyway?

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12 (ESV)

Sin leads to death? How does that work? Doctors today tell us that stress, which can be caused in part through unresolved anger, can lead to heart attacks and strokes. So even in the physical, unresolved issues can lead to death. But the death that Paul has written about is an even worse form of death – it’s permanent separation from the Father. Eternal punishment in hell!

God loves us so much that He provides a solution to the sin problem. However, the solution doesn’t stop us from sinning. It gives us the way to become right with a holy God.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matt 1:18-23 (ESV)

Was Jesus born a sinner? No. He is the only person who has ever been conceived “from the Holy Spirit”. Fully God, yet fully man. Why did Jesus have to be born if He’s God, and if He’s been around as long as God … from the “beginning”?

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 (ESV)

Jesus came, voluntarily, for my sake and for your sake.

I’m sure some of you are wondering what this all has to do with the topic of forgiveness.

Take the next day or so to think about what Jesus did for you. He came to earth – voluntarily. He came to a place and time with no air conditioning – voluntarily. And He chose to come to a lowly person, lead a sinless life, and die on the cross. He did all this for you, and He did it because it was the only way for us to “become the righteousness of God”.

Does that make you want to forgive someone who has hurt you? Or are you like me – wanting to forgive some people, but not everyone, because you still feel the need to maintain the self-righteousness of hurt? (ouch. Honesty can be painful).

See you Wednesday!

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