Friday, October 11th, 2013
Unforgiveness (Part 4)
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.'
Matthew 9:2 (NKJV)
I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness... to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
Acts 26:16-18 (NKJV)
For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In My faithfulness I will reward My people and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Isaiah 61:8 (NKJV)
God reveals a supernatural connection between faith and forgiveness. If we believe in Him, He forgives us, heals us and rewards us. Our faith is the key to forgiveness, and forgiveness is the key to restoration and rewards. To receive these miracles from God, consider these steps:
1) Faith comes first. Because 'Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him' (Hebrews 11:6). Note the word 'diligently,' as in continuing. Your restoration and rewards may come quickly or more slowly, but they will surely come--if you are diligent.
2) Forgiveness comes second. If we want God to forgive us, then we must forgive others without exception--even for the most serious of crimes, like abandonment, abuse, persecution, theft, infidelity or even murder. In our limited understanding, it doesn't seem right. But God's understanding is infinite.
He knows unforgiveness will harm us more than any crime committed against us. Even more, 'All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6). 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). In other words, who are we to judge?
'If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses' (Matthew 6:12).
3) After completing steps one and two, restoration and rewards follow. Consider Job: In the Old Testament, no one suffered more than Job--losing his children, fortune, friends and health. He committed no crimes to deserve such punishment. His ordeal was a test of faith: like Abraham's potential sacrifice of Isaac, or Joseph's slavery and imprisonment in Egypt.
Because in my reading of the Bible, God's heroes passed great tests to receive great rewards. As for Job? 'The Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before' (Job 42:10).
Note that Job was restored 'When he prayed for his friends.' In other words, Job forgave the same friends who accused him of bringing his torment upon himself, the same friends who neither comforted nor encouraged Job in his time of greatest need.
Years later, Jesus demonstrated again and again that restoration and rewards follow faith and forgiveness.
Because forgiveness is proof of faith.
'In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith--of greater worth than gold... may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed' (1 Peter 1:6-8).
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Unforgiveness series.