F-Bomb (Forgiveness) by Patrik Emmert, Guest Contributor
Anyone throw you under the bus at work recently? Anyone intentionally hurt your feelings lately? Has anyone yelled at you, called you names on Facebook, or cut you off on the interstate? If you live in America chances are you can answer yes to at least one of these questions or possibly something worse has happened to you. Most of us in America have a tendency to hold a grudge when things like this and much worse are done to us. We think that we are justified in holding on to these hurts. We may think it is our God given right. We sometimes say silently to ourselves things like "I'll show them" or "I'll never forget what that person did to me" or "I'm not gonna let that happen to me again". Sometimes even as Christ followers we do this. The world teaches us that it's ok to hold a grudge great or small, forever remembering what wrongs have been done against us, responding in utter distrust and contempt for the offender. We are taught to guard our hearts from ever being hurt like that again. These "sins" committed against us are sadly and unfortunately a part of life. God knew this from the beginning and warns us...

Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
But what does it really mean to forgive a sin done against you? Some would say "I forgave them" but as the days and years play out the signs of an underlying grudge still rise to the top. So let's dive in much deeper. Here is an even more convicting parable for the American grudge holder...

Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV)
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,' he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,' he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

But alas... some still hold on to their perceived right to bear a grudge simply renaming it to a sneaker kind of grudge and not even calling it a grudge at all. They are simply looking and grasping for that elusive biblically grudgable loophole. They typically claim "I'll forgive that person but I don't have to trust them. After all, that's what Jesus did". Really... That kind of stipulatory forgiveness actually isn't truly forgiveness at all. They maintain their self presumed justified ability to not truly forgive and completely let go of the offense by standing on this verse...

John 2:24 (NIV)
24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.

Had careful research been done, the 'grudgee' would find that Christ did this out of a judgement of mankind. Not the kind of ministering judgement called for by true Christ followers as described in Matthew 7, but a holy judgement of the hearts of mankind; something only God can do. Jesus' action here to not entrust himself to the men around Him at the time is only recorded once in all of scripture and is referencing a large group of people. What it is NOT is biblically permitted begrudging and distrust against one person.

The argument that The Bible tells us to forgive but not to forget is yet another tactic used to defend an American grudge holders' justification. Fortunately the burden of proof for this one falls on those claiming it. I would even argue that the Bible supports the opposite. Paul talks in Romans about Gods new "covenant" and Jesus also referenced this passage himself...

Jeremiah 31:34 (NIV)
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

And also...

Psalms 103:12 (NIV)
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Not done yet..

Micah 7:19 (NIV)19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

And if you still need more...

Isaiah 43:25 (NIV)25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

I just can't imagine our Heavenly Father saying "I forgive you but I'm not going to trust you!" It just doesn't match up with His character.

So with terms like "unless you forgive your brother from your heart” and "remembers your sins no more" it is safe to say that God wants us to truly, fully, honestly, and absolutely forgive those who sin against us from our core remembering the sin no more.

And last but defiantly not least the final nail in the grudge holders' coffin is this argument "but they keep doing the same thing over and over!"

Let's not forget the previous passage...

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.

That's 490.... I can gladly say I have never been sinned against that many times in one day by the same person.

God calls all who claim to follow His Son to a completely different standard than we see in movies, television, and society. Jesus had every reason to hold a grudge against any one of us and still does. As we continue to screw up daily He has even more reason to distrust. But does He...? NO! He forgives. Did you catch that.. I'll say it again. He forgives! The kind of forgiveness that let's the offense go completely and never remembers it! That's what God wants from us. That's what God commands from us.

Or we don't get it from Him...

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