Friday is for Heart Songs
I had just finished a retreat for great group of young adults (ages 22-35) for a downtown church. Despite the fact that I had a very muddled third talk, God seemed to do a great work and all of us came away blessed. It is so good to know that when my words fall short, his words still contain power to change lives and never return void (Isaiah 55:11).
My fourth and final message was on forgiveness. I tried to make the case that Christians ought to be known as the greatest forgivers on the planet. The world ought to marvel at the extraordinary depth and passion of our forgiveness. It ought to be among the principle badges, along with love for one another, that mark us as having been with Jesus. Indeed forgiveness is often the clothing that love wears to be noticed in the world.
I have been involved in ministry for almost 40 years. I have been in churches of dozens of denominations, large churches, small churches, house churches, mega churches and I have to say I have met some absolutely magnificent men and women whose understanding of forgiveness is deep, inspiring and practical. But this is not how the media portrays my brothers and sisters in Christ by and large.
The media loves to focus on some who call themselves Christ followers who are either charlatans, or immature, or fringe members of the body of Christ. The media loves to focus on some of our own who come across as anything but forgiving.
Such will always be the case. Jesus said the world would hate us (Luke 6:22). We shouldn’t be surprised when the sovereign Lord is proved true.
But we must continue to fight the battle to be “kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.” (Ephesians 4:32) So here is some practical challenge and advice for all of us who want to continue to grow in the grace of being forgivers.
- Remember that forgiveness is a promise.
- In that promise, we give up the right to punish and avenge.
- Remember that the model for how we are to forgive is to remember our Savior’s forgiveness of us.
- Remember to hunt for beams in our own eyes/lives/hearts. When we do, it will soften our hearts toward those who have hurt us and make us great forgivers ourselves.
We who have been forgiven much ought to be great forgivers. For the glory of Christ who forgave us, let us put on forgiving hearts so that the world will marvel at the Savior’s life in us.