Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

Whatever happened to forgiveness?

Recently I had a discussion with my brother about forgiveness. It began with his question, “Whatever happened to people forgiving one another instead of always being offended?”

The dictionary defines forgive as the ability to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake; to cease to feel resentment against. Within that definition is the word offense or the annoyance and resentment brought about by a perceived insult or disregard for one’s standards or principles. These definitions of forgiveness and offense make the question even more intriguing.

What happened that people can’t stop feeling anger or resentment toward others and so continue to embrace perceived insults for their standards or principles?

“Every scheme of the wicked in his arrogance [says], “There is no God, [so] it won’t be held against me” (Psalm 10:4).

The answer to that question is quite simple and somewhat complex. It begins with our culture’s loss of belief in God (Elohim) as a Sovereign King, loss of their identity as a human being created by Him, and loss of humility before this Sovereign King. Arrogance stands in direct opposition to Him and is the seed of fruit eaten in the garden.

“So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord. Perhaps you will yet be forgiven for holding such a thought in your heart” (Acts 8:22).

Years ago I read a book entitled, “Out on a Broken Limb” by Shirley McLaine. This woman has no fear of her Creator, but believes herself to be God. There was a little description of her standing on the shore of the ocean punching her fists in the air screaming at the top of her lungs, “I AM GOD!” over and over confirming her stance in the presence of the Almighty that She. Is. God. Yet, in the ears of the Creator of the Universe, her voice sounds like a mere ant standing on a minute grain of sand. He could barely hear her tiny high-pitched squeal and laughed at her arrogance. Such arrogance breeds offense and not forgiveness.

Yeshua taught in “The Lord’s Prayer:

“Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.”

Yet, arrogance never allows for personal wrongdoing. Arrogance judges others as the wrong doers and therefore responds with offense and unforgiveness. This arrogant attitude destroys personal relationships in families between parents and children, marriages, friendships, and even church fellowships. Forgiveness is an act of humility and as taught by Yeshua has a condition, “but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours” (Matthew 6:12, 15).

We live in a culture where a heavenly Father no longer exists in the world of His creation. So, who cares if He forgives us or not? We are ‘little gods’ and create Him in our image just like Shirley McClaine standing on the beach.

We should care because without forgiveness we will continue to live in a culture of offense that will escalate in strife, anger, bitterness, and ultimately murder while we wonder what is happening in the world.

“Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him. Indeed, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

Love. Social media is filled with memes about love. Love is constantly preached in our culture, but it is not a Biblical love that forbears, politely or patiently restraining an impulse to do something. It’s a Beatles kind of humanistic love that makes the individual the center of the universe. It is a deceptive love that promotes tolerance, but never forbears. This redefinition of love is not the authentic, unconditional love that each human soul truly seeks. In fact, it appears to be a type of love that actually promotes dissension and division between individuals and groups of people.

“Love covers a multitude of sins …” (1 Peter 4:8).

First Corinthians 13, the chapter in the Bible that actually defines authentic sacrificial love, says keeping a record of wrongs is not love and neither is being easily angered, rude or selfish. The greatest kindness we can give to one another is to bear with one another and not keep a record of the offenses, allowing the frustration and anger to build until there is an explosion which is what is growing daily in our godless culture.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted; and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

According to the definition of offense, it is ‘perceived’ and not necessarily something finite or real. It is something the minds of men and women embrace until it takes over their entire thought process and defines who they are. God did not create humanity to be defined by a political view or morality issue. He created us to be transformed into the image of Yeshua, the one who gave his life so that we could not only be forgiven our offenses, but have the ability to forgive others.

Offense, like forgiveness, is a choice and matter of the condition of one’s heart or having a kind, gentle, or sentimental nature. Again, tenderheartedness is not the norm in our godless culture because hearts have been hardened toward having a Creator. People now define themselves and their lives apart from Him.

“You bring frail mortals to the point of being crushed, then say, “People, repent!” (Psalm 90:3).

In Hebrew, the word ‘repent’ is teshuvah which means to make a 180 degree turn in your life and return back to God. According to the prophet Isaiah, the solution to sin, wickedness, and evil arrogant thoughts that bring offense, is a return to God. His ways include forgiveness (Isaiah 55:7)

The underlying message of repentance is missing in today’s spiritually diverse culture. Fear of being intolerant or unloving has made acknowledging sin and its consequences a judgmental action rather than truly loving. Yet, forgiveness is magnanimous when repentance is true.

As human beings we become easily offended by ideas and opinions that differ from ours, however, our Sovereign King is offended by sin, actions that are highly reprehensible to Him. These actions are outlined in the Bible that no one reads because we are living in a modern world and the words of our Creator have been deemed outdated. A relative recently said that obeying them would be like going back to the 1700s! Really? It would be like going back further than that, back 4000 years.

The world culture mocks God and pounds their fists in the air at those who don’t. They believe they are ‘little gods’ and raise their voices in arrogance against God sounding like that ant on a grain of sand. He laughs at every teeny weeny bold voice trying to redefine the world and His standards. Government can’t define right and wrong; governments come and go. Only God defines right and wrong, especially the worship of the god of self, the Lie from the Garden.

Only when post-modern individuals understand that self-worship is reprehensible to God will they understand the depth of the depravity of the human state. This state focuses on offensive ideas and opinions and not on the power of God to overcome, the power to forgive all offenses and be set free.

“Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). 

When godless people quote Yeshua’s words “Don’t judge and you won’t be judged,” they sound so knowledgeable about a God they don’t even know or care to know. These are the same people who judge those who read the Bible as being judgmental! If only they would open a Bible, they might see the rest of that verse, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Instead of focusing on forgiving, forbearing and being tenderhearted, these misinformed people focus on judging views they do not understand while pontificating Scriptures they know nothing about.

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered over …” (Romans 4:7).

Forgiveness is the willful act of covering over the sins and offenses of another. This is not the same as giving a thumbs-up to their sins and offenses. Sins against God will ultimately be judged by Him. This type of forgiveness is the ability to forgive the offense. With this kind of forgiveness, relationships will bring peace, joy, and hope into the relationship.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

While offense brings arguments, divisions, civil unrest, and broken relationships, forgiveness brings restoration and blessing. In Hebrew the word for ‘blessing’ is barak and means ‘to kneel down and show respect.’ This is the epitome of forgiveness – to kneel down in front of the one who has offended and show respect for that person’s as one created in the image of God. This is the greatest act of Biblical love: forgiveness. The world not only searches for it, but needs desperately to see emulated by those who have had their sins forgiven by God through Yeshua.

“Claiming to be wise, they have become fools! In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being …. In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking…. They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and vice; stuffed with jealousy, murder, quarreling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey their parents;  they are brainless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. They know well enough God’s righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; yet not only do they keep doing them, but they applaud others who do the same” (Romans 1:22-32).

“Whatever happened to people not forgiving and holding onto offenses? Simply. Without God, no one knows or understands forgiveness and therefore holds onto their personal perceived offenses. Without God, the world becomes filled with fools who have been deceived into believing that mere humans can make the world a kinder, better, more loving place. We can’t.

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