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Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

Forgiveness

Hurt people, hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion and cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.

– Yehuda Berg

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Corrie ten Boom

In Holland during World War II, the Casper ten Boom family used their home as a hiding place for those hunted by the Nazis. This was their way of living out their Christian faith. Four members of the family lost their lives for providing this refuge. Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie spent horrific months in the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp. Betsie died there—Corrie survived.

In Ravensbrück, Corrie and Betsie learned that God helps us to forgive. Following the war, Corrie was determined to share this message. On one occasion, she had just spoken to a group of people in Germany suffering from the ravages of war. Her message was “God forgives.” It was then that Corrie ten Boom’s faithfulness brought forth its blessing.

A man approached her. She recognized him as one of the cruelest guards in the camp. “You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he said. “I was a guard there. … But since that time, … I have become a Christian.” He explained that he had sought God’s forgiveness for the cruel things he had done. He extended his hand and asked, “Will you forgive me?”

Corrie ten Boom then said:

“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

“… The message that God forgives has a … condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. …

“… ‘Help me!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“… Woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. As I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart.’

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

– Elder Keith B. McMullin, Our Path of Duty

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When we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, we receive forgiveness for our own sins.

* * *

The following verse applies to both the giver and receiver.

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

James 5:20

A related verse is

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

* * *

Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.

Doctrine & Covenants 62:3

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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Perhaps the most difficult commandment is to forgive those who have hurt us. We often hope that some calamity or punishment will fall upon them.

There is a German word “Schadenfreude.” It means pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

The Lord has warned us against these prideful feelings.

Proverbs 24

[17] Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

The Lord has even taught us to do good unto our enemies.

Exodus 23

[4] If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

Proverbs 25

[21] If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

Our Lord set an example when a band of men came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of these was Malchus, who was a servant of Caiaphas, the high priest. Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ right ear.

But Jesus then touched Malchus and healed his ear. (Luke 22:49-51 & John 18:10)

Jesus also asked his father to forgive the soldiers who nailed him to the cross. (Luke 23:34)

Likewise, Stephen asks the Lord to forgive the mob that stonned him.

Acts 7

[59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
[60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

* * *

These are noble and ideal principles which I need to follow.

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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There have been several times in my life when I needed to make major changes, such as moving to a new neighborhood, starting a new job, etc.

On several occasions, the Lord even forewarned me about upcoming changes in my life using some of the following Biblical principles, although he did not inform me of the specific details.

The warnings came through sermons that I heard on Christian radio stations.

The following example can apply to friendships, neighborhoods, churches, or employment settings.

* * *

People come into our lives for a reason. Maybe we need some sort of help from that person, or perhaps that individual needs some support from us, or the friendship may be mutual and reciprocal.

Then one day, this friend, or maybe a group of friends, turns bitterly against us through no fault of our own.

What does the Bible advise in these situations?

Jesus taught that we must forgive our brother “seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)

The Lord also gave a procedure for resolving conflicts when a brother has sinned against us in Matthew 18:15-18.

We should be peacemakers as Jesus taught. (Matthew 5:9)

But there may be times when we simply need to “move on.” We may need to find new friendships, change jobs, move to a new neighborhood, or join another church.

The Lord may even use these upsetting circumstances to prod us to a new situation where we can have new opportunities for personal growth and for giving service.

* * *

David experienced this when he lived in King Saul’s household. David played his harp to comfort Saul. He also became Saul’s armor-bearer.

But Saul eventually became very jealous of David, and Saul even tried to kill David several times. As a result, David had to escape from Saul.

The following is taken from 1 Samuel 18:

[6] And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music.

[7] And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

[8] And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?

[9] And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

[10] And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.

[11] And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

[12] And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.

Saul offered to let David marry one of his daughters if David would fight the Philistines. He hoped David would be killed by the Philistines. (1 Samuel 18:20–25)

But David survived and was victorious in battle.

Saul continued to seek David’s life. (1 Samuel 19:9–10)

David fled into the wilderness. At one point, he took refuge in a cave in Adullam. (1 Samuel 22:1-3)

David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but did not do so. He exclaimed to Saul:

The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. (1 Samuel 24:12)

The author of this Biblical book then adds commentary: As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. (1 Samuel 24:13)

David had been devestated by the adversity. But the Lord protected David. And the Lord used these circumstances to prepare David himself to become king over Israel and Judah.

Eventually, Saul died in battle.

After Saul’s death, David was anointed king. (2 Samuel 5)

* * *

Some of the verses in Psalms are based on David’s experiences facing adversity.

An example is Psalm 59 where David praises the Lord for delivering him from the hands of his enemies.

[16] But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

[17] Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

* * *

Jesus himself was wounded in the house of his friends. (Zechariah 13:6, Psalm 22:16)

Jesus sought the moral support of his disciples as he gave his great intercessory prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet his disciples slept. (Matthew 26:36-45)

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. (Matthew 26:46-50)

Peter thrice denied even knowing Jesus, even as Jesus was been tried and beaten. (Luke 22:34,54-57)

Yet Jesus forgave them. (Luke 23:34)

Perhaps we can gain a greater appreciation for Christ’s great atoning sacrifice on our behalf when we too are wounded in the house of our friends.

* * *

We have a natural tendency to try to make sense of the wounds that our friends inflict upon us. We are driven to rumination… But we should humbly acknowledge our limited capacity to understand the “big picture.”

As Paul taught:

We see through a glass darkly…

(1 Corinthians 13:12)

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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* * *

The Greek philosopher Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

There are far too many people in the world who are careless and who do not accept responsibility for their actions. And there are many who say “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” as the Apostle Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

But those of us who are trying to be disciples of Jesus Christ sometimes face a different problem. We may focus too much on our own faults to the point that we become discouraged. Our discouragement then becomes a wedge that separates us from Christ.

Even the prophets and apostles had weaknesses.

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Adam then blamed Eve who blamed the serpent. (Genesis 3)

Noah became drunk after he left the ark and had planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9)

Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah, each time claiming that Sarah was merely his sister. (Genesis 12 & 20)

Lot had an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. (Genesis 19)

Jacob played a trick on Isaac in order to get the birthright blessing. (Genesis 27)

Aaron built a golden calf for idol worship. (Exodus 32)

Miriam had a bout of leprosy as punishment for gossiping about Moses’ wife. (Numbers 12)

Moses was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land because he was disrespectful to the Lord when he drew water from the rock at Meribah. (Numbers 20:8-12)

Gideon made an “ephod” out of the gold won in battle, which caused the whole of Israel again to turn away from God. (Judges 8:26-27)

Jonah at first refused to go to Ninevah. So he was swallowed by a whale. (Jonah 1)

David sinned with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11)

Solomon worshiped the gods of his wives. (1 Kings 11)

Elijah was depressed and asked God to let him die. (1 Kings 19)

Job cursed his own birth. (Job 3)

King Hezekiah showed his treasures to the ambassadors from Babylon. Isaiah then prophesied: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 39)

Zacharias was struck dumb because he doubted the angel Gabriel’s message that he, Zacharias, would be the father of John the Baptist. (Luke 1)

Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons before Jesus cleansed her. (Luke 8:2)

Martha complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was unhelpful with housework. (Luke 10:38-42)

Peter denied knowing Christ three times. (Mark 14)

Nathaniel questioned: Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)

Thomas doubted that Jesus had been resurrected. (John 20)

Paul (Saul) held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen. (Acts 6)

John Mark left Paul and the other missionaries who were traveling to Asia Minor, and he returned to Jerusalem. This caused a break between Paul and Barnabas some time later. (Acts 13 & 15)

Paul confessed:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:15,19)

* * *

Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions, explains that God deliberately chooses human prophets whose mortal nature is apparent, so that
people will not ascribe the miracles they perform to themselves, but rather to
God.

* * *

We all have things in our lives that we must change. I need to be more forgiving and let go of memories of past adverse experiences.

But we must always remember that Jesus Christ loves us, and he is merciful unto us as we turn our hearts toward him.

Let us come before God and humbly acknowledge our weaknesses before him. He will then give us grace and lift us up. (James 4:6 & 10).

May the Lord bless you,
Tom

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* * *

The New Testament contains a short book called Philemon.

Here is a summary:

The Apostle Paul introduces himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Paul was under house arrest in Rome at this time.

Paul and Timothy greet Philemon as a dearly beloved fellow-laborer.

Philemon lived in Colossae.

Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave. Onesimus had run away and may have stolen some money from his master.

He then met Paul. Paul taught the gospel to Onesimus, who then became a Christian as well as a servant to Paul.

Paul regards Onesimus as his son (verse 10).

Paul asks Philemon in a letter to forgive Onesimus and to accept him as a fellow Christian and as a beloved brother (verses 15-16)

Paul then sent Onesimus back to Philemon. Paul offered to pay Philemon for any debts that Onesimus owed to Philemon. (verses 18-19).

Paul expresses his desire to visit Philemon after his imprisonment (verse 22).

Paul closes

[25] The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

* * *

There are several important lessons in this epistle.

Onesimus represents each of us in this story. This story symbolizes the great atoning sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us.

We are all rather unprofitable servants as was Onesimus. We are slaves of sin when we do wrong (John 8:34). We may also be slaves to fear.

We may all at one time run away from the Lord as Onesimus fled from Philemon. But we can still repent and turn our hearts to Jesus Christ even when we are far away from him.

Paul regarded Onesimus as his son. We become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ when we are spiritually reborn.

Paul offered to pay for the debts of Onesimus. Jesus Christ has paid for our eternal debts through his great atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross at Calvary.

The story also teaches us the importance of brotherhood in Christ and forgiveness.

* * *

Here is a poem by Rosamond E. Herklots.

“Forgive our sins as we forgive,”
You taught us, Lord, to pray;
But You alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.

How can Your pardon reach and bless
The unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?

In blazing light your cross reveals
The truth we dimly knew:
How trifling others’ debts to us;
How great our debt to You!

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease;
Then, by your mercy reconciled,
Our lives will spread your peace.

* * *

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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