Luke 18:21Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feetand begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Shame, fear, greed, lust and many other sins will slow your garden down, but, judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness will shut down the flow of blessing into your life from God. They are more than mere weeds. They poison the ground of your heart. I can work the soil, plant and weed all I want, but unless God sends His rain, warmth, and light, nothing will grow. God promise that if we will let go of judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness, He will bless us.
Luke 6:37-38 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Understanding these things is absolutely essential, so let’s look at these in depth.
Many people point to the above verse and conclude that we are not to judge anything. But! – the Bible needs to be taken in context, considering the entire book. If we are not to judge anything, why does God instruct Moses to set up a system of judges in the Old Testament? And why does Paul instruct the Corinthians to judge the man who is sleeping with his father’s wife in chapter 5? The Bible obviously instructs us to judge behavior. What Jesus is talking about here is looking down on someone while thinking of yourself as better. If you read the rest of the sermon Jesus was preaching in chapter 6, you will see that He is talking about being humble and loving your enemies. He is not saying you shouldn’t judge behavior or belief systems.
So what does judging look like? We are all guilty! Have you ever said something like this? “Well, I’ve ______, but at least I never _______; or I would never __________. There are things that you do that aren’t right in the eyes of others. There are even things you do that aren’t right in the eyes of God. And odds are that if you look down on others in judgment, you will wind up in a similar place.
I often joke about the supplements I take. When I was younger, my husband’s grandparents had a cabinet full of supplements that they took. I thought that was just stupid and told people it was probably the reason they got cancer. Now I take a handful of supplements with every meal and if I don’t, I wind up not able to walk! That’s a happy example of winding up in a similar place.
My husband and I often talked about how badly some family members handle their finances and looked down on them. They wound up in bankruptcy and we shook our heads in disgust. Guess what? We wound up going through bankruptcy too.
My friend talks about how she judged her mom for staying with an alcoholic husband. This man was her step-father and made life very difficult for her as she grew up. After my friend married, her husband became an alcoholic. When she heard this message about judgment and forgiveness, she realized she had been holding grudge against her mom and had wound up in the same situation. She wrote to her mom and apologized for not forgiving and understanding. Shortly after, my friend’s husband got born again and is free from that addiction!
Are there ways in which you have judged people? Take some time to think about this. Write down anything that God brings to mind.
Ask Him to help you. It might be something you can handle with just repenting to God, however if He impresses on you to go talk with that person or to discuss the situation with your prayer partner(s), do it! God created us as social beings. We need to interact to be healthy. That’s why He told us to “confess our faults to one another” in James 5:16
Now let’s look at the word condemn. To condemn means to pass a sentence of punishment on a person. Does this mean that we should never discipline our children or send anyone to jail? Again, we have to look at the entire Bible in context. God does tell parents to discipline their children, in fact, Proverbs 13:24 declares that the parent who fails to discipline a child, hates that child. The Old Testament is full of laws with prescribed punishments for law breakers. In Acts 5, Peter proclaims that Sapphira will die because of her deceit.
No, in this verse, the word condemn is referring to judging someone as being worthy of hell and irreversible rejection. The Bible clearly advocates discipline and punishment for those who sin, but our attitude in carrying out these judgments must be in love. First, to protect the innocent, and secondly, to bring the sinner to repentance if possible.
The third word we want to look at is forgive. Many people think that in order to forgive, you have to let people walk all over you. But it’s just not like that. In the Amplified Bible Ephesians 5:1 says: “THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitatetheir father].In order to find out what true forgiveness looks like, we have to look at how God forgives.
God is a just god. He is a perfect god and He is the one who created everything. He knows how it works. If something exists, there is a purpose for it. No matter how much you or I think God should have created us with detachable arms for ease of sleeping, God has a good reason for it. (In my case, He knew I would loose them.) Many people think the world would be better off without flies. But, did you know that if you put a maggot on an infected wound it will eat the dead flesh that is causing the problem and leave the live flesh alone? And think about how much animal manure would be heaped up if it weren’t for flies. Did you know that spiders play a huge role in controlling insects that destroy crops? Or that snakes keep the rodent population in check? Did you know that mosquitoes rarely bite healthy people?
The truth is that God created the cycles of life. In order for a building to be built, things have to be destroyed. Trees need to be grown and cut down. Rocks need to be formed and then cut or crushed. Metal needs to be extracted from the ground and then heated in the fire to be formed into pipes and wires … Farming involves tearing the ground, burying seed in it, growing the plants that have come as a result of the death of that seed, cutting them down, feeding those plants to you or to animals that must be slaughtered and cooked to feed you.
God in His wisdom created all things in balance so that no one thing can take over and destroy His creation. God also has a reason for allowing people to experience pain and death.Let me be very clear! It is not God’s will for His children to be sick or in lack of anything!Jesus said, “The enemy comes to steal and to kill and to destroy, but I have come to give life and life more abundantly.” He also instructed us to pray that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10) In James 1:7 it says, “Everygoodgiftandeveryperfectgiftis from above, andcomes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Pain and suffering are not God’s will for His children, but He does allow it. The reasons may not be clear to us, but in the endwe will understand. It is my personal belief that most of it is to draw us to Him, to motivate us to pray for ourselves, our loved ones and for the salvation of all who will come to Him.
One story that always comes back to me is the one Corrie Ten Boom tells in The Hiding Place.Corrie and her family became the leaders of a large resistance group in Amsterdam in WWII. At one point they were captured and put into a concentration camp. She and her sister were put in barracks that were horribly infested with fleas. Her sister insisted they give thanks for the fleas. Corrie resisted this idea, but finally gave in. They got down on their knees and thanked God for the fleas. They were not allowed to pray or speak about God anywhere in the camp. However, the guards would not come in the barracks because of the fleas, so they had complete freedom there. As a result, thousands of people heard about Jesus on their way to the gas chambers and went to Heaven. It may not always be comfortable for us, but God will always use whatever happens for our good and for His glory.
So what does all this have to do with forgiveness? God created the universe. He created laws that demand justice to protect His creation from destruction. He has every right to be angry and to punish us for our sin, but He loved us so much that He Himself took the punishment for our sin on the cross. He chose to put aside His anger and pay the price for our sin Himself. We too may have the right to be angry, but we must follow His lead. We must set aside our anger and choose to love and have mercy on those who sin against us. Jesus said we are to “ loveyourenemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”. We do not know who will turn to God through our kindness.
This does not mean we are to let people walk all over us. Jesus did not do this. The Gospels records several times when people came to kill Him, but until it was the Father’s timing for Him to pay the price for our sins, He simply walked away. He also defended the innocent, spoke of the scribes and the pharisees as serpents and vipers and even took a whip to those who were cheating people in the temple.
We are to do the same as God leads, but most of the time, we simply need to step back and allow God’s Word to work. Those who will come to God and repent will escape the ultimate destruction and those who will not, will suffer the destruction they bring on themselves.
It was not God’s will for Hitler to rise to power, however, God loved him and his supporters enough not to snuff them out the day they were born. He gave them every chance He could to repent and turn to Him. And in the meantime, He used the evil that Hitler wreaked on the world to bring multitudes into His kingdom. You may not think that this was the best way to do it, but you are not God. You don’t understand how everything works. He is way smarter than you could ever hope to be. Just try collecting all the atoms that it takes to build a blade of grass and put them together! He knows what He is doing and we have to choose to trust Him.
Here’s the deal: God is the only source of life. He gave us a choice. We can choose Him or we can walk away from Him. If we walk away from Him we choose death and destruction. Jesus said it this way in John 12:46-48 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
In Ephesians 4:31 the Bible says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
Does this mean we should never be angry? Again, we need to look at the entire Bible to discern what this means. If you’ve ever studied the Gospels, it is quite evident that Jesus got angry at times. So, let’s look at the verses surrounding this verse.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Clearly, this verse is talking about frequent or sustained anger and bitterness. Anger is a gift that God has given us, but frequent or sustained anger will destroy you. So what is appropriate anger? We need to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus did not become angry when people attacked Him personally. He got angry when other people were being hurt and He acted in love to protect those who were being hurt. This is not to say you should never fight against evil that is directed at you. A rapist or a burglar must be brought to justice. In the absence of consequences, they will continue in their sins and hurt other people. Hitler was able to
gain control and commit the atrocities he did because good men failed to stand up against him … and he lost the war because good men saw and decided to give their lives to defeat him.
This week, look up the words anger, bitterness and wrath in the Bible. Find out how it is to be used. And if you have problems with frequent or sustained anger or bitterness, ask God to help you put it away and love those with whom you are angry. You may even be angry with God for allowing things to happen in your life. Confess this to God and forgive Him. Tell Him that He is smarter than you are and ask Him to use those things for your good and for the good of others.