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Summary: AS CHRISTIANS WE LIVE IN THE WORLD OF THE EXTRAORDINARY. AS TUTU’S DAUGHTER SAID, “WE ALL HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BE EXTRAORDINARY.” OUR CHALLENGE TODAY IS TO BE EXTRAORDINARY FORGIVERS. PART OF A SERIES ON THE LORD'S PRAYER.

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THE FREEDOM OF FORGIVENESS

MATTHEW 6:12-15

A LETTER WAS WRITTEN FROM A LADY TO HER EX-BOYFRIEND EXPRESSING HER UNHAPPINESS SINCE SHE BROKE OFF THEIR ENGAGEMENT. IT READ:

DEAREST JIMMY:

NO WORDS COULD EVER EXPRESS THE GREAT UNHAPPINESS I’VE FELT SINCE BREAKING OUR ENGAGEMENT. PLEASE SAY YOU’LL TAKE ME BACK. NO ONE COULD EVER TAKE YOUR PLACE IN MY HEART, SO PLEASE FORGIVE ME. I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU.!

YOURS FOREVER, JANET

P.S.: CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING THE 100 MILLION STATE LOTTERY.

SOMEONE PRAYING FOR FORGIVENESS ONCE SAID:

“FORGIVE ME MY NONSENSE, AS I ALSO FORGIVE THE NONSENSE OF THOSE WHO THINK THEY TALK SENSE.

BY NOW YOU PROBABLY REALIZED THAT I’M SPEAKING ON THE ISSUE OF FORGIVENESS TODAY. IT IS THE ONLY PETITION THAT JESUS ACTUALLY EXPOUNDS ON AS HE DOES IN VERSES 14 AND 15.

THIS IN FACT IS A VERY DIFFICULT PART OF THE PRAYER TO PRAY. IT SETS JESUS AS THE MODEL OF FORGIVENESS WE ARE TO COMPARE OURSELVES WITH AND THIS IS VERY DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN.

CONSIDER JESUS’ WORDS UPON THE CROSS AS THE STANDARD:

LUKE 23:34: 34 JESUS SAID, “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE SAY, I JUST CAN’T FORGIVE THIS GUY, HE’S GONE WAY TOO FAR.” WE THINK OF OUR FAMILIES, IF ONE OF THEM WERE HURT OR KILLED, THERE’S NO WAY I CAN FORGIVE THEM. I JUST CAN’T.

YET THIS IS JUST WHAT GOD DID FOR US ISN’T IT. WHEN JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS, HIS SACRIFICE WAS ACCEPTABLE AS A FULL PAYMENT OF OR SIN DEBT. IT WAS HIS LIFE FOR MINE AS THE SONG SAYS.

HAD WE BEEN THERE, WE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE ONES TO PUT JESUS ON THE CROSS. WE WOULD HAVE MOCKED HIM, THREW THINGS AT HIM, SPIT ON HIM, AND WE WOULD HAVE HEARD JESUS SAY “FATHER FORGIVE THEM.”

GOD THE FATHER HAD TO DEAL WITH A DYING SON, AND BECAUSE OF HIS DEATH, HE HAD TO FORGIVE, THE VERY PEOPLE WHO CAUSED HIS DEATH.

HOW’S THAT FOR A STANDARD!

WE WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT FORGIVENESS IS ONLY FOR THE PENITANT, AND NEED ONLY BE CONSIDERED IF ASKED FOR. THIS HOWEVER IS NOT WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS.

PSALM 103:10-14:

HE DOES NOT TREAT US AS OUR SINS DESERVE OR REPAY US ACCORDING TO OUR INIQUITIES. 11 FOR AS HIGH AS THE HEAVENS ARE ABOVE THE EARTH, SO GREAT IS HIS LOVE FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HIM; 12 AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST, SO FAR HAS HE REMOVED OUR TRANSGRESSIONS FROM US. 13 AS A FATHER HAS COMPASSION ON HIS CHILDREN, SO THE LORD HAS COMPASSION ON THOSE WHO FEAR HIM; 14 FOR HE KNOWS HOW WE ARE FORMED, HE REMEMBERS THAT WE ARE DUST

FORGIVENESS IS NOT ABOUT “RIGHT OR WRONG.” THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WRONGED BY SOMEONE, MAY NOT HAVE ANY GREAT SIGNIFICANCE ON THAT INDIVIDUAL. YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE AN APOLOGY, AND IF YOU SAY TO THEM THAT YOU WANT TO FORGIVE THEM FOR DOING YOU WRONG, THEY COULD JUST LAUGH AND SAY “SO WHAT”?

MOST PEOPLE CANNOT SEE THE PRISON THAT “UNFORGIVENESS” PUTS THEM IN. WE ALL KNOW ABOUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELD GRUDGES AGAINST OTHERS FOR YEARS AND NEVER ATTEMPTED TO FORGIVE THE OTHER PERSON. FAMILY MEMBERS GO TO THEIR GRAVES BEARING GRUDGES AGAINST EACH OTHER BECAUSE NO ONE HAD THE AUDACITY TO SAY “I FORGIVE YOU.”

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