What on Earth have we done with the Teachings of Jesus? ~ Forgive ~

As quoted in the last blog in 2019 I felt inspired to study the pure Words of Jesus. I categorised them and listed them according to subject headings and compiled them into the little book ‘What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?’ (which is available as a free download on this site). There were 83 different subjects that Jesus taught on. I listed the top ten subject headings according to the frequency that Jesus spoke on them (page 133 in the book).  I am now covering the top ten over the forthcoming days.

Yesterday the subject of ‘humility’ was covered as the tenth out of 83 most common subject. However in joint tenth place was the subject of forgiveness.  I’m not stipulating that these are in order of importance.. for clearly all are imperative.  But to look at the frequency of the subject matter that has been depicted in the Bible I believe offers us some clues.

Forgiveness

I have reminders several times a day of my need for forgiveness and my need to forgive others.  Unforgiveness is like cancer to our bodies.  It results in many forms of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual disabilities. Yet we can all attest to how difficult it can be to forgive someone who has wronged us, either intentionally or not.  We want justice at the core of us. We want retribution and we want it now. How hard it is to be even kind to someone who has wronged us. Think about the people in your life now who you struggle to be ‘nice’ to. Or you are deliberately avoiding or have cut from your life intentionally. I don’t believe many of us could not bring to mind one or more persons. And Jesus’ Words seem to pierce us on this subject. If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.  Matt 11:26. Simply we won’t be forgiven if we are holding something against another person.

It’s a dreadful revelation when it cuts to your heart.  Can we recall a time when we have wronged someone, even unintentionally, and that person has forgiven us freely, without any resentment? How marvellous a moment this is. We walk on with peace in our hearts. But to go through life knowing someone is holding something against us is an appalling prospect. How can it not stunt our growth and receptibility before the Lord? That is why the Lord said, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift, Matt 5:23.  This is about wrongs we have committed toward others. The Lord cannot receive anything from any of us if someone is holding something against us. We cannot allow strife and unresolved issues to remain among any of us. For we will be brought to account on the day of judgment.  Let this fill us all with terror.

In the previous section of Matthew chapter 5 it says, whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. There is a council in the heavenly courts before which we will stand. ‘Raca’ is a word meaning ‘empty head’. We have far worse names available in our vocabulary now. How utterly liberal our culture is with its words. Yet here is a severe warning against anyone calling someone something we might consider to be menial.  Additionally to call someone something and follow with ‘I was only joking!’ is an attempt to cloak this vile sin. Are any of us innocent?

What does it do to us to be called a name – however trivial? the power of words is in itself a vast subject.  But in this context – it causes a resentment in our hearts toward them. And so we are likely to hold unforgiveness toward them. And thus we have a stumbling block in our relationship with our Father.  The words ‘without cause’ in Matthew 5 has always caused me to ponder. Every time we are angry we can justify it to ourselves and identify a cause. So what does this mean?

Henry says – ‘Christ tells them that rash anger is heart-murder (Matt. 5:22) Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause, breaks the sixth commandment {you shall not kill}. By our brother here, we are to understand any person,.. however much our inferior, as a child, a servant, for we are all made of one blood.

The word—’without cause’ in Matt 5 is to mean… ‘without moderation’; so that the anger is then sinful, (1.) When it is of no great and proportionable cause i.e. to be angry at children for something which could not be helped (a forgetfulness or a mistake), when we are angry for trivial affronts not worth speaking of.  (2.) When it is without any good end aimed at, i.e. to show our authority or to let people know our resentments, then it is in vain, it is to do hurt.  (3.) When it exceeds due bounds; when we are headstrong in our anger, and when we seek the hurt of those we are displeased at. This is a breach of the sixth commandment, for he would kill {and even entertaining thoughts of their death} .. he has taken the first step toward it.

Christ shows that the sin of rash anger exposes men to punishments.. From all this it is here inferred, that we ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with our brethren, and that if at any time a breach happens, we should labour for a reconciliation, by confessing our fault, humbling ourselves to our brother, begging his pardon, and making restitution… and that we should do this quickly.  Because, till this be done, we are utterly unfit for communion with God.

We must not let the sun go down upon our wrath on any day, because we must go to prayer before we go to sleep {and we want our prayers to be heard}. Because, till this be done, we lie exposed to much danger. It is at our peril if we do not labour after an agreement, if thou persist in this sin, there is danger lest thou be suddenly snatched away by the wrath of God, whose judgment thou canst not escape nor except against; and if that iniquity be laid to thy charge, thou art undone for ever.” Hell is a prison for all that live and die in malice and uncharitableness, for all that are contentious (Rom. 2:8), and out of that prison there is no rescue, no redemption, no escape, to eternity.

Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary

One last point is that of how we speak of others. We cause unforgiveness to breed by speaking ill of others and tearing down their character.  When one Rabbi teacher was asked of about the ‘naughty’ children in his class – his words were ‘why fill your mind with the prejudice of another’? – may we hold that phrase and not fill anyone’s mind with prejudice toward another.

Guard my tongue
Psalm 141:3-4
 
Lord, place a guard at my mouth;
A sentry at the door of my lips
Please forgive those ill-uttered words;
Those merry little quips.
 
Lord it is not my desire
To say anything wrong
But so often an unsuspecting word
Slips from my hurried tongue.
 
Lord I want to speak kindess
From a gentle heart; so then
Keep me from wanting to do wrong,
From the company of evil men.
 
To join them in their wickedness
Has never been my desire.
Lord I pray that my tongue may ever be
Subject to Your Holy Fire
 
 
By the late Andrew Feakin
(passed away 16th March 2019)

Prayer: O Lord God I feel cut to the heart. I see my sin always before me. Forgive my unforgiveness. Cleanse my heart anew. Show me where I need to put things right with people and help me forgive and forgive again.  I thank You that I may come to the foot of the cross. In Jesus Name. AMEN

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