Summary: Many times, the one thing that paralyzes us is the unwillingness to seek forgiveness or the bitter spirit that won’t grant it to someone else.
We are a funny group of people. We are sue happy. We sue for everything from a hot cup of coffee to hurt feelings. Forgiveness has become a lost art. Now everything is about revenge, getting even, making someone pay. Sadly enough, it’s drifted from the secular world into churches today. When we should be loving, we are often bitter. As we continue in our journey through the scriptures, I think that we will find the awesome power of forgiveness in today’s text.
In Genesis 32 we find Jacob preparing to meet his brother Esau. And how scared Jacob had to be! He had tricked his brother Esau and deceived him. He had received birthrights that rightfully belonged to Esau. When htis happened, he fled! He went far away (with a little help from his mother to his uncle’s house. He fled because he was afraid Esau would kill him. He just knew at that time that if Esau found him, he was done for!
Now many years had passed and Jacob was returning home at the Lord’s urging. You know what he had to have been thinking about, right? I am sure that he did not have a relaxing trip. I am sure that all along he kept thinking "What is Esau going to do? Will he kill me?" Ia am sure with each step that he took, there was more and more anxiety.
And put yourself in Esau’s shoes. How would you have reacted? We would all love to say that we would have let bygones be bygones. But you know what? We don’t really do that a whole lot. We hold grudges. We don’t talk to each other. There are people within the church (even one as close knit as ours) who don’t talk or communicate because of something that happened years ago and they can’t even remember what it was! Think about it. Even if we were in Jacob’s shoes, we would have feared the worst because we know what we would do if we were Esau.
Many of us live in fear in our daily lives because of our past sins. Many of us have been frozen by our past sins against someone or even more so, a past sin someone has committed against us.
Think about it! How many of us do not move on in our Christian walk because we can’t forgive ourselves for something we’ve done.
Or how many of us can’t let go of some wrong that someone has done to us?
In our text, Jacob is preparing for the worse. He divided the people in two groups so that if Esau attacked one group the other group could escape.
How often do we imagine the worse? We give God no credit for the fact that He can heal those wounds and can fix the problem.
We move on to Genesis 33 where Jacob sees 400 men and puts his plan into immediate action. He knew it! He and his family were going to be destroyed. How dare God lead him into such a terrible situation!Ever feel that way? God is asking you to do something that you don’t want to do. How dare Him? Who does He think He is, God?
But then look what happens! Jacob finds that Esau had forgiven him and the brothers have shared fellowship together.
Esau did what most of us would not do. Instead, Esau did what God does. The only time in Scripture you can find God getting in a hurry is in the story of the prodigal son. In that story the prodigal son, (which represents us) squandered all of his inheritance and when he came back home, he came back just as Jacob did. He came back with the hopes that he could be a servant, but what happened was he was met with “open arms” by the father, (which represents God). And that is what Esau did. He put the past behind him because he had missed his brother. He was ready to welcome him home.
Isn’t it awesome that this is exactly how God is? He doesn’t hold the past against us. He runs to meet us and then welcomes us home. What is keeping you from being the servant tha you should be? What is it you are afraid that God won’t forgive. Trust me, He will. He loves you and just like Esau was with Jacob, God longs to welcome you back.
And the we are to remember that we are to be like Him and be forgiving of others.
Consider Matthew 6:14-15.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
You see, to forgive someone in a way that honors our Savior is to not only forgive but to forget. Stop and consider salvation. When we accept Jesus and what the Lord has one for us, He gives us a clean slate. That’s what we are supposed to do when it comes to forgiving others. We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us and be done with it.