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 to people that they can’t stop feeling anger or resentment toward others and continue to embrace perceived insults for one’s 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 though somewhat complex and 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 who has no fear of her Creator, but believes herself God. There was a little description of her standing on the shore of a great 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 only 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 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).

Herein lies what I view as the problem. We live in a culture where a heavenly Father no longer exists in the minds and hearts 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 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’s not a Biblical love that forbears, politely or patiently restraining an impulse to do something. It’s a Beatles kind of love that is humanistic making the individual the center of the universe. It is a deceptive love that speaks tolerance, but never forbears. This redefinition of love is not the authentic, unconditional love that each person’s 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. Yet, the greatest kindness we can give to one another is to bear with one another and not keep a record of the offenses, allowing them to build until they explode which is what we are seeing 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 that the minds of men embrace to the point that it takes over their entire thought process until it defines who they are. We were not created to be defined by a political view or morality issues; we were created 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 tender heart or having a kind, gentle, or sentimental nature. Again, tenderheartedness is not the norm in our godless culture because our hearts have become hard toward our Creator and we define ourselves and our 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 and His ways which includes forgiveness (Isaiah 55:7) As mortal 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 wants to read because we are such modern people and the words of our Creator have been deemed as outdated. Obeying them would be like going back to the 1700s. Really, it would be like going back further than that, back 4000 years. 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.

When post-modern individuals care about the actions that are reprehensible to God can they understand the depth of their weakened human state that focuses on offensive ideas and opinions and not the power of God’s forgiveness. We live in a culture that mocks God and pounds their fists in the air at those who do put their faith in Him. They still cannot see they are not ‘little gods’ and those voices raised in arrogance against God and His people still sound like a mere ant standing on a grain of sand. He laughs at every teeny weeny voice trying to be so bold as to redefine His world and His standards. It doesn’t matter what the government defines as right or wrong by law; governments come and go. It only matters what God defines as right and wrong whether it’s abortion, fornication, adultery, stealing, lying and the worship of the false god of self because His laws are eternal. Only through humility will anyone understand the depth of God’s love for humanity’s pointless arrogance against Him and be able to forgive others rather than hold onto an offended, judgmental attitude based on ideas and political concepts that will pass away when we do.

“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). 

I find it almost laughable when godless people quote Yeshua’s words “Don’t judge and you won’t be judged” so they sound knowledgeable about a God they don’t want to accept or deny exists. These are the same folks who judge and condemn those who read the Bible as being judgmental! If only they would take one second and open a Bible, they would see the rest of that verse, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” There is less judgment in the Bible than lovingkindness, mercy, grace and forgiveness. Instead of focusing on forgiving, forbearing and being tenderhearted, these misinformed people focus on judging and condemning others’ views they do not understand while pontificating Scriptures they know nothing about. It’s unfortunate that most of these people base their knowledge of the Bible on the behavior of many who claim to be Bible believers, but deny the reality of God’s commandments in their own lives.

“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 for sins against God are established until the world to come and will ultimately be judged by Him. This type of forgiveness is the ability to overlook the offense and accept the individual in the state in which they live and think. When there is this type of forgiveness, relationships are established that may bring peace, joy, and hope into an individual’s heart.

“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 you showing respect for that person’s humanity as one created in the image of God. This is the greatest act of Biblical love, forbearance, tenderheartedness and forgiveness that the world not only is searching for, but needs desperately to see emulated by those who have had their sins forgiven by God through Yeshua and know the power and blessing of that forgiveness.

“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).

Back to the original question: “Whatever happened to people not forgiving and holding onto offenses? Simply. Without God, no one knows or understands the concept of forgiveness and therefore holds onto their personal perceived offenses. Without God, we are nothing but bumbling fools who have been deceived into believing that we, mere humans, can make the world a kinder, better, more loving place. And, we can’t.

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