The Greatest Example Of Forgiveness

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But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:15

Lesson of Forgiveness

Sometimes the lesson of forgiveness can only be obtained through being the recipient of someone not being willing to forgive you. If we have been hurt in our past by someone we can be those who will not forgive others who hurt us.

When we do not release others we end up not releasing ourselves. Even physical ailments can be a result of this pent up hurt and unforgiveness that manifests itself in bitterness, envy, resentment and even anger. For a Christian to hold onto any grudge or anger towards someone in the body of Christ affects not just themselves but others are defiled by their sin. It is not only a sin to not forgive but as we do this we enter into the strategy of satan because the demonic world is a world of unforgiveness. Not offering forgiveness is to not offer the love of Christ to another believer.

We have received unmerited grace and forgiveness but then we say to someone “I will not forgive you,” we are doing what is opposite than Christ. When we do not forgive we show that we do not love Jesus because if we love him we will obey his commands. And his command is to forgive all.

Jesus Suffered On the Cross

Jesus on the cross suffered for your sins and he forgave you, he offered you this forgiveness and when we accept it, we become Christians. Jesus the Son of God on the cross was mocked, ridiculed and given a sponge with vinegar that some argue was used for cleaning in the washroom of Romans. If anyone had the right to be unforgiving, vengeful, angry and seek justice it would have been Jesus. But what is the reaction, he says “Forgive them.”

He says to God the Father please do not hold these things against those who have hurt me so much. Please not only that please put their punishment on me so that they can be set free. We can share in the heart of Jesus that through our pains and hurts we can be able to help set others free through bearing the hurt with the love of Jesus Christ. Does this excuse sin? No, but it does allow healing and help for those who sin and we become more like the character of God towards others. In the light of sins against Jesus Christ, the sins others do to us are very little.

The teaching of Jesus even goes further that if we do not release and forgive others, God will not forgive our sins or hold some of them against us. Lord, help me to forgive and fully release others as we all stand by your grace. Amen.

Sola Scriptura and Church Traditions

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Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? – Matthew 15:3

Church Tradition

Traditions! Some hate them and some love them, what when we come to the New Testament scriptures and the Church what are we to do with them? Are they good, bad or neutral? The Scripture passage shared above is one of the first bible verses we think right away on the position of our Lord on human religious traditions. It seems on the outset that all traditions are against the commands of God and therefore we have to disregard them. But let us take a closer look this passage and others. The pharisees were coming to Jesus stating that his disciples were breaking their traditions, “the tradition of the elders” (Mark 7:3). The pharisees believed they were keeping the passed on traditions of moses and elders in hand washing. But what they missed was the inner reality of why the hand washing was done. God was desiring inward purity and they lost the inner meaning and simply focused on the outward.

 

The Pharisees Traditions Wrong?

Jesus did not say that all the traditions of the pharisees were wrong, he actually at one point told his disciples to keep the pharisees ways but not to follow the actual example of the pharisees as they did “not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:3). We know that Jesus did put great emphasis on the Word of God, he quoted it against satan (Luke 4:4), quoted it to the pharisees (Matthew 21:13), He spoke it to the crowds (Matthew 11:10). Our Lord actually quoted the Scriptures all throughout his ministry and life, including his death on the cross possibly reciting the entirety of Psalm 22.

Yet it is interesting to note that Jesus went to the The Feast of Dedication (John 10:22–23) which was not a biblical feast but one through tradition of the Jewish people. Jesus though putting great emphasis on the Word of God did not leave us a Bible upon his death. But rather he left a Church, leaders who would perpetuate and share His kingdom. It seems our Lord’s importance was on the Church he was establishing and not a canon of Scripture. Of course the Scriptures are of great importance but the emphasis seemed to be on “living epistles” (2 Corinthians 3:2) who would be walking Bibles sharing the message of God.

 

Inner Spiritual Reality of Traditions

Traditions do not need to be in opposition to the word of God. Traditions are things that are passed on that give us signifigance and meaning to a spiritual reality. But when the symbol becomes only just that, then we lose the reason for doing the practice and then it becomes a dead tradition and can even oppose the words of God in the end. In many cases the Scripture themselves state traditions early believers kept (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6). The Apostle Paul encouraged believers to: “hold fast to the teachings (traditions) we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Matthew Poole a minister in the reformation said,

“The apostle delivered many things to the primitive church only by word of mouth, which have since that time been imparted to succeeding churches, to the observation of which Christians are as much obliged as to the written word.”

 

Godly Traditions, Memorials for Us

Clearly from the New Testament writings we see godly traditions that were passed on and that the next generation of leaders held to. These traditions are there so we can not forget what God did in the generation past just as the 12 stones were a memorial to Israel (Joshua 4:6-7). But when we forget the reason for the memorial that is when everything becomes lost. For any godly tradition of the Church if we cannot find the inner spiritual reason for it or if it does not originate in the apostolic first generations of the Church it should probably be held lightly or disregarded.

We must never hold such a tradition higher then the Word of God, they are simply symbols and memorials pointing to the spiritual realities the very Scriptures speak of. Perhaps these thoughts will help you next time you hear the word Church tradition.