Yesterday we talked about not engaging in to godless chatter, instead being holy (set apart from the world) just as Christ is holy. “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
We are to speak the truth, walk in faith and be gentle and loving. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 4:29-5:2)
Forgiving others is required of Christians, because our Lord has forgiven us our sins. On Sunday our pastor gave us an illustration using a shovel and a spoon. Our Lord has forgiven all of our sin, and we are sinful creatures – shovelful after shovelful after shovelful. Yet many times when we have the opportunity to forgive others (whether or not they ever ask), we tend to forgive them by the spoonful. Yet Jesus tells us to forgive extravagantly – seventy times seven times (Matt. 18:21-22). I was pondering the extravagance of forgiveness we are to give to others – and I had to ask why – why would He expect us to forgive the same people over and over again — and then it hit me. How many times have I asked forgiveness of the Lord for my sins? And when I have done that, how many times did He forgive me? Every time!
If I am truly thankful for His forgiveness of my sins, shouldn’t I be able to extend the same loving grace to others? When I am able to forgive others and extend the grace He has bestowed upon me to them, I believe that is truly humbling myself before Him in gratitude for His sacrifice. And if I don’t, I’m being prideful – thinking that somehow I must be better than they are – and I am better than no one. After all, we are all created by our Lord – and there is no one on this earth who is any more or less of a sinner than I am. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23)
Anger, if left to fester, becomes hate, which is clearly against the Lord’s commandment to love one another. “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” (1 John 3:15) In this passage, John is reminding us of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-25). Hate is a worldly heart condition. Instead, as His children, we are called to love and to forgive extravagantly. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)