Between the Words ... Pastor Jimâ€™s Perspectives on the Weekend Behind and the Week Yet to Come (October 14, 2019)
By Jim GarrettOctober 14, 2019
God’s Forgiveness in Jubilee
I think most of us have at some time or another known someone with a deadly disease such as cancer. As we all know, cancer kills. In fact, perhaps some of you have even lost mates, parents, or other family members because of cancer. You know its ill effects; in fact, you have even seen the devastation that treating cancer has on people: these often look as if they have been shaved and are in very poor health, in general. This “killer disease” causes great times of pain both to the bearer of the sickness and the family members associated with them. It is painful to see a loved one fade away before your very eyes. Just as cancer is deadly, so there is an even deadlier disease that many of you in this room possess and are completely unaware of; you’re even ignorant to the effects that it has on you. This illness has many different facets and I will name but a few of them today: unforgiveness, bitterness, ill-will, hatred, wrath, undealt with anger, etc.
There has been no cure found yet for cancer, but there is a cure for the above-mentioned diseases. As I present this cure this morning, I hope each of us is able to see the need for the cure (or the prevention) of this dreaded disease that is in our life. (And by the way, the cure’s name is Jesus).
Life Principle: The forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.
Let’s talk about anger for a few minutes. What are some facts about bitterness, anger, hatred, etc.? Conflict. Distrust. Jealousy. Hurt … And many other titles
Before we go further, let’s answer a couple questions about anger. Is it a sin to be angry? Paul used words to express the example of Christ in Ephesians 4:26 NIV – “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Not only is anger not necessarily sin, but God even shows us the proper way to deal with such – in a timely, daily manner.
Anger can be Contagious
Certainly, there are MANY reasons why we deal with anger immediately. One of those reasons is because anger can be highly contagious. Never let it be said of us that we helped spread such a deadly disease!
Billy Martin, former coach of the New York Yankees told about a hunting trip he had in Texas with baseball legend, Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend.
Mantle’s friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had an old mule out in the barn who was going blind, and he didn’t have the heart to put him out of his misery. So, he asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him.
Mickey decided to play a trick on his hunting partner. When he came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn’t let them hunt. "I’m so mad at that guy," Mantle said, "I’m going out to his barn and shoot one of his mules!" Mantle drove like a maniac to the barn. Martin protested, "We can’t do that!" But Mickey was adamant. "Just watch me," he shouted. When they got to the barn, Mantle jumped out of the car with his rifle, ran inside, and shot the mule.
As he was leaving, though, he heard two more shots, and he ran back to the car. He saw that Martin had taken out his rifle, too. "What are you doing, Martin?" he yelled. Martin yelled back, face red with anger, "We’ll show that son of a gun! I just shot two of his cows!"
My friend, anger can be dangerously contagious.
Again, let it never be said of us that we helped spread such a deadly disease!
And while this story tells a tale of anger improperly treated, I say that we must admit, on the other hand of this story, that the forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.
Does my anger, as it is focused toward someone else, really affect them? Yes, it can -- in several different ways:
To name a couple, It can affect how others look at the individual with whom I am angry.
My friends, rather than sway other individuals’ opinions to line up with our anger, let us seek to see others through Jesus’ eyes.
It starts with a prayer of trust asking Jesus to guide our thoughts and actions. “Lord Jesus, help me to see so-and-so through your eyes.”
It also can cause opposing sides to develop – creating a gap in friendships. For instance, in a church-type setting, anger can develop tension, create opposing groups within, and cause extremely “toxic soil” for growth in the Lord.
Does my wrath affect me? Most definitely. Anger and unforgiveness seem to take a three-step path: 1) Anger, 2) Bitterness, and 3) Death.
Does my wrath affect my walk with God? In order to answer that question, look at Jesus’ reply to Peter in Matthew 18:22-35. In the final words of that passage, Jesus said, “This (wrathful response) is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
In other words, the Bible is clearly telling us that if we expect the forgiveness of the Father, we must forgive the one who owes us or offends us. Note that God will not require something of us that He will not equip us to perform. Forgiveness, my friend, is not an option; it is instead an essential in the Christian Life
How does all of this tie in with Jubilee? Among other things, the Biblical Year of Jubilee was a time of national forgiveness. There was a national awareness of the need for forgiveness throughout the land of Israel. This awareness affected land, possessions, and debts that were owed. And while there is some theological debate regarding how far this extended and how it was applied concerning land and debts – there is no debate concerning the application of personal forgiveness. It was what some would refer to as a mandated, legalistic—forgiveness – not an option.
But to go a step further my friends, in a very real way, Jesus IS our Jubilee
- He is our Restoration
- He is our wholeness
- And He is our Forgiveness
- Jesus IS our Jubilee.
Forgiveness is a great Biblical word translated from the Greek word, aph-i-e-mi, and literally means “to send forth, in various applications (as follows): – To cry, to forgive, to forsake, to lay aside, to leave, to let (alone, be, go, have), to omit, to put (send) away, to remit, to suffer, to yield up.” It is actually a term that a Bookkeeper would have used, In Bookkeepers’ terms, the word “forgive” means that this offense is no longer held against someone’s account.
This presents a very different idea than our concept of “forgive and forget.” When I no longer hold it to someone’s account, I can – at any time – at my desire or by accident – look back and see the wrong done, the offense incurred, or the debt owed – BUT, I also immediately see and understand that the deed/ debt/offense has been cancelled – or forgiven – and thus, it is no longer owed or held against He account of that individual.
My friend, on other words, it doesn’t matter if I forget it or not – or whether it seemingly pops up at some unfortunate time—if it is forgiven, it is no longer held to the account of – whether I remember it or not – or whether I forget it or not.
In other words, when Christ forgives us, it does not mean that He has erased our sin from His memory; it means that He no longer holds the sin to our account. But, I must mention, by extension, forgiveness doesn’t excuse the offending behavior, it simply no longer holds it to the account.
And in very practical terms, for us, forgiveness prevents someone else’s behavior from destroying our hearts.
And forgiveness also fulfills God’s desire for us to forgive others, even as He has forgiven us.
Luke 11:3-5 (NIV) – Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
Isn’t it interesting that the medicine God has prescribed for the cure and prevention of this dreaded disease that we mentioned earlier: wrath, anger, and bitterness — is forgiveness — forgiveness through Jesus.
How do I forgive?
First of all, realize that there is nothing within you that is able to perform forgiveness; it is only Jesus in and through you that can forgive.
Life Lesson: It is only by the empowerment of Jesus that you can forgive.
Draw near to God, pray and ask God to give you the grace to forgive. The Hebrew poetry found in Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us specifically how we draw nigh unto Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
(Wholeheartedly put your trust (and corresponding actions) in Him.)
and lean not on your own understanding;
(Find no strength or support in leaning upon your own understanding; instead, lean upon His understanding.)
in all your ways submit to him,
(In everything you see, hear, feel, sense, seek, say, do or even think, submit to Him.)
and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV).
This is how we draw near to Him – and of course, to complete that particular verse—in drawing near to Him, He will draw near to us.
After God has empowered you in forgiveness, make to yourself a mental commitment to no longer hold to someone else’s account for wrongs done. Daniel 1:8 (NIV) tells us, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”
Although some would tell us that we do not have a part to play in this action of forgiveness – or any other Christian act – that it is only Christ’s actions that have already been performed – we must understand and respond that we have the role of cooperation to play in these tasks. Cooperation with the Word of God and the Will of Christ is an essential element of forgiveness.
Go and seek to make everything right between you and the one you’re forgiving. Note that this is a fruit of God’s grace within you – by His empowerment – to go. In a very real sense, your going is merely a fruit of His dwelling presence in you. Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) iterates, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Remember, the forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.
When thoughts of bitterness or anger enter in against someone whom you’ve forgiven, Pray, and be sure to remember your mental commitment. Remember your “Bookkeeper’s Book— it is clearly marked, forgiven! You may even have to verbally (out-loud) remind yourself that you’ve forgiven them.
And, how do I get forgiveness?
Confession, from the Greek, homo-le-ge-o-mai and meaning,”to say the same thing as” is a definite part of the receiving forgiveness process. I John 1:9 (NIV) reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
If I am saying the same thing as, what am I saying the same thing about? I am saying the same thing that God already knows. Certainly, our confession is to the Lord – but we may also confess things to a trusted Christian friend or Christian leader.
Ask and Repent (See Psalm 51:7-13). And note that the word translated as repent, is the Hebrew word, shuv, literally meaning “to return.”
The thought might occur, “to return to what?” To return to the state or condition in which God originally created us to be and function. To revert back to tabula rasa – a blank slate. This is a beautiful picture of 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
And finally (and this is often the hardest part), Receive and walk in His forgiveness
The great philosopher, Lucy, of the cartoon Peanuts fame, once expressed to Charlie Brown at the end of the baseball game an explanation of why she had lost sight of the baseball and why she had failed to make the catch. “Sorry I missed that easy fly ball, manager. I thought I had it, but suddenly I remembered all the others I’ve missed, and the past got in my eyes.”
Don’t let the past – your sins, your failures, and your mistakes – get in your eyes this morning. Instead, get His forgiveness.
Dr. David Seamunds, in his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, says, “The two primary causes of emotional stress are the failure to receive forgiveness and the failure to forgive.”
Lewis B. Smede, renowned Christian author, ethicist, and theologian in the Reformed tradition, once said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Still, Max Lucado, stated it in an even different way, “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.”
Life Principle: The forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.
So, here is a nice “take away.”
- Ask and Repent
- Forgive others.
On another note: This weekend, at our church, we had the privilege of hosting singer, Steve Green. There was such a calming and peaceful Spirit of the Lord among us. I think what I took home from that experience is that God is always there to bring His peace, even when many have labored so intensely to make an event happen; He is even there to bring rest over you when you have labored long and hard. Many who were there that evening had labored had for days (and weeks, and months)
These are things that we all know BUT, sometimes, you have to be reminded by seeing them in action.