Saturday, January 01, 2005
Resolve to Reckon, Resolve to Forgive
I have a theory. If you make New Years resolutions, you will break them. I have much evidence for this theory. You probably do too. But that's O.K. I still say, "Go ahead and make them." Don't make too many. My theory on too many is that you will not only break them, but will utterly forget them, and lose the whole point.
I would recommend these two New Years resolutions for the born again believer:
1. I resolve to reckon that I am dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).
That word "reckon" is sometimes translated "consider", but my favorite loose translation is "choose to believe". But the point is that if I see myself as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, I am likely to act, respond, walk, etc. in that light. If I don't "reckon" that truth, then the world, the flesh and the devil will conspire to feed me the lie that I'm alive to sin, and dead to God, in some way that will lead me to act, respond, walk, etc. in that lie. If I believe the truth, I will likely commune with Jesus more. It's profoundly satisfying to commune with Him when you know He doesn't hold a grudge. When you know that you are His Beloved.
But Terr-r-ry-y-y -- you perhaps whine :) -- I don't feel like I'm dead to sin and alive to God. Well, that's why you have to "choose to believe" this simple biblical truth. You do see it as a simple biblical truth, don't you? It would be hard to make it clearer. Write it on the frontlets of your mind, and reckon it, consider it, choose to believe it.
2. I resolve to forgive everybody for everything, right away, in my heart.
Hardly anything is more destructive to the Christian life than holding unforgiveness in the heart. Remember Jesus' story of the unforgiving man who was delivered over to the tormentors? If you don't forgive, you shall be tormented.
Forgiveness is not forgetting (a human impossibility). Forgiveness is not enjoying being wronged. Forgiveness is simply "not holding something against someone to the point of withholding love from them". Love is simply caring for someone, desiring the highest good for them, and acting accordingly. So if you forgive someone, you will continue to love them, desire their highest good, and act accordingly toward them.
"Common sense" comes into play here. For example, if someone robs you, you may not let them in your cash register, or even out of jail. If someone has been destructive toward you, and is not repentant, you may be unwise to be "buddies". Nor is Matthew 18 correction and ultimate church discipline done away with. And so on. But you still forgive them in your heart! You still don't withhold love from them.
By the way, forgiveness is really just an expression of grace, isn't it? We are to forgive "as Christ has forgiven [us]". With love, and compassion, and caring, and appropriate action --- not because they deserve it (they probably don't), but by grace.
"But I can't forgive him for that!" Ahh, and there's the rub. Indeed you can't, and I can't, except as we have the life and love of Christ living through us. Forgiveness, like love, is the fruit of the Spirit, so we must walk according to the Spirit, be being filled with the Spirit, abide in Him, commune with Jesus. But that's another resolution.