1 John 1.9 - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Colossians 3.13 - "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
Acts 13.38 - "Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you."
We can all think of a time in which someone's actions or words were hurtful. Maybe you were overly condemned by your parents as a child. A spouse cheated on you or a work colleague went behind your back. Maybe even someone in the church has hurt you in one way or another. For any hurtful situation, forgiveness is a MUST, for if we as Christians do not practice it, we will pay a significant price for it later.
Matthew 6.14 says "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
I don't know about you, but I want my sins forgiven, especially by God. So one might ask, well what exactly is forgiveness? It is a decision to let go of resentment, hurts or thoughts of revenge. Well, what if the hurt is so bad; it will always be a part of me? Two words: Drive On! The hurt may always be with you, but in forgiveness, the pain is relieved.
However, forgiveness is not just good for the afterlife; it will help you now. The Mayo-Clinic, a leading institute on health and wellbeing says that "forgiveness leads to healthier relationships, lower blood pressure and greater spiritual and psychological wellbeing, as well as less anxiety, stress and hostility." An unforgiving spirit hurts us more than the ones that hurt us.
If you are having trouble with forgiveness, look to Jesus as your example. Being nailed to a cross, His blood was still warm and trickling off his beaten and battered body, yet He still says "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". Let us learn from Jesus' example. Putting behind us our past hurts makes us more influential in our Christian walk. Let us forgive!
Mark 9.38-41 "Teacher," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
Thinking on the United States of America and its founding, it was full of differences. Within the first few years there were the northern, middle and southern colonies. They all differed in religions, politics, economics, social issues and the way they dealt with them. But in the end, a great nation was born.
The Puritans founded the northern colonies of New England. Quakers quickly began to populate the middle colonies around 1700 and the Catholics were everywhere. Religion in the southern colonies was not practiced with enthusiasm. Their true faith lay in the tobacco plantations. Later, as the population grew, many Protestants began to outnumber the other small religious sects. But somehow these vastly different colonies came together and created the United States of America. And it was good!
Economically the country was growing quickly. The northern manufactures and the southern plantation owners were happy, wealthy and finally lived in a free country in which they could put their differences aside and succeed without fear of government or "church". But one day it happened! Such a major differences occurred that nothing but war itself could not settle it.
Less than a hundred years after America was founded, She found herself at war. Brother against brother, family against family, church against church. Simply because they had come upon differences they could not work out.
Today we see this happening in many churches and they are torn apart in the process. Let us learn from this, let us put our differences aside, let us forgive one another, love one another and live in unity and most of all let us be like-minded in Christ.
As Philippians 2.2-4 tells us "Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Within any church we have vast differences. Different upbringings, backgrounds, attitudes and mindsets. However, the one thing that is most important we all have in common...Christ. Let us work toward Him, not being selfish or vain, but in humility, let us love one another.
Nathan Greene is minister of Barlow Vincent Church of Christ. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.