Father, forgive them!
Lk.23:34, ‘Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”And they divided His garments and cast lots.’
Christianity stands on this cornerstone of forgiveness. Had Jesus not prayed this prayer on the cross, the story would be different. It’s amazing that the only reason we have to say for the great hope of entering into the gates of heaven is ‘I am forgiven’. As we ponder on this prayer of our Lord, let’s learn from Him. He prayed this prayer almost after He suffered all that He had to. He had a mind to pray even at the most painful moments of His life. Forgiveness is a token of love. He dared to love at the most hated & deserted moments of His life. Surely He acted against the natural feeling of flesh which retaliates at every hurt. Forgiveness is a deliberate effort or action. For Jesus, forgiveness was a spontaneous flow from His heart. He was quick to forgive. It is His nature to forgive. Col.1:19, ‘9 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, ……”. The fullness of love in Christ overflowed as forgiveness.
Apostle Paul always gave emphasis on growing in love of Christ in all his prayers and epistles. Phil.1:9-11, ‘And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’ Approval means acceptance or that which is considered right. In order to approve the excellent things of life, it’s essential to abound in love and there is nothing more excellent than ‘forgiveness’.
A mature Christian is not the one who has innumerable gifts of the Spirit of God, neither is it based on the time passed since being born again. Had it been so, Corinth church would have been the most mature church, for it was endowed with all gifts of the Spirit of God. Yet Apostle Paul wrote to them in 1 Cor.3:1, ‘ And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.’ Jesus displayed the perfectness and maturity of love & spirituality through this prayer for forgiveness. This was a place where He was not preaching nor doing great miracles. He was not walking on waters nor calming the storms. But this was a place where He was bound & He was beaten. His flesh was torn apart to the extent that even the bones were seen. He was clothed with His own blood so much so that His beauty had turned to ugliness. Yet, the prayer for the forgiveness of the entire mankind became the greatest sermon ever preached and the cross became the greatest pulpit ever used.
It’s pathetic to see our churches and fellowship loosing this excellent ground of unconditional love and forgiveness. The devil has succeeded to drag the world right into the church, to the extent that it does not have a boundary of sanctification any more. We are unable to forgive the person sitting next to us. For years, we have been pondering about the hurtful words they have spoken to us. Ministries are no more a selfless service for they have been displaced by self-centered professionalism, marked with envy, bitterness and unforgiveness, unable to rejoice over the fruitfulness of other ministries. Masks of love have become so common that one fears to share one’s burden in church the most, fearing gossips, abandonments and misunderstandings. In fact, we see more of bound lives within the church.
But let’s realize that just like a piece of sweet which attracts ants from all over, unforgiveness attracts powers of darkness and demons from all over. It attracts envy, selfishness, anger, bitterness, evil communication etc. James 3:14-17, ‘But if you have bitter envy and [h]self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.’ Unable to forgive a person is a great bondage which deprives a life from receiving the promise of eternal life. Such lives store poison in their hearts which knowingly and unknowingly are leading them to death and destruction. And in the process, they make things tough for all who live around them. Let’s not see it as a casual thing. Let’s realize that a person bound with unforgiveness is like a person bit by a venomous serpent, who in turn tries hard to bite and inject venom of revenge and malice into every life they come across.
Jn.8:31-32,‘Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”’Jesus said, ‘I am the truth, the way and the life.’ The only way to loosen oneself from such self tied bondages is to meditate and apply His word i.e.. the truth into our lives. Let’s go through seven ‘truths’ which can set a person free from the bondage of unforgiveness.
- Confession : 1 Jn.1:9, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Justification is a powerful tool of evil one while confession is a powerful weapon of a God’s child. Confession hands over one into the hands of the Lord. Though it gives us a feeling of loosing the war on the grounds of ego and self-esteem, we are victorious when we openly confess our sins to our Lord. That’s how King David overcame the great fall of the sin of adultery, while King Saul lost the faith life through self justification. Let’s confess the sin of unforgiveness to our Lord.
- Praying for the person who hurt you: 6:27-28, ‘But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’ When we pray regularly for those who hurt us, the evil feelings of jealousy, bitterness anger etc is pushed out of our heart and instead, it gets filled up with love of God for the concerned person. Though it’s a tough task, but once we make up our mind to obey the Word, we receive His strength to do His will.
- Willful act of love: Romans 12:20, ‘Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Such acts of love crucifies one’s flesh which has the natural tendency of not responding to the needs of the ones who hurt us.
- Realization of God’s holiness: 6:12, ‘And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.’ One of the main points in the prayer which our Lord taught His disciples was about forgiveness. God will forgive us just as we forgive others. If we cannot forgive others, neither can our Lord forgive us. This is a truth, whether one believes it or not. This depicts the holiness of God. None can see the Lord without holiness. Let’s fear Him and uproot every fence built around our hearts that stop us from forgiving others.
- Erase the records of wrongs: 1 Cor.13:4-5,‘It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.;…..’ Let’s inscribe these words portraying the true love of Christ in our hearts so that they rule our thoughts and emotions at every step. Not keeping record of wrong or in other words forgetting the wrongs done to us might be impossible. But what is meant here is that even when we remember once a while, we should not feel the hurt or the pain. Only the love of Christ absorbs or uproots the pain of hurts. A child might hurt his or her mother knowingly or unknowingly. But a mother will never have its records in her heart because of the deep and unconditional love for the child. 43:25, ‘ “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.’
- Be quick to forgive: 5:25, ‘Agree with your adversary quickly,while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.’ Forgiving is good but forgiving quickly is powerful. Most of us struggle to forgive, but Jesus never struggled to forgive. He forgave quickly and easily. Just as a pot of sweet water emits only sweet water, when beaten, hit hard or even crushed to pieces, a Spirit filled person bears fruit of long suffering or forgiveness spontaneously without any struggle. That’s why the Word instructs us to ‘be filled with His Spirit’ (Eph.5:18). In other words, moments of hurts are allowed by God to make us see what comes out of us during such times.
- Forgiveness is a daily process : 1 Cor.15:31, 1 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.’ Here ‘I’ is our self will or nature of flesh. The nature of flesh is such that the person whom we forgave yesterday might be unforgiven by us today. Hence, it’s essential to mortify the ‘I’ everyday with the power of the Word of God. Moreover, we can never escape hurts and persecutions as long as we live in this world for the Lord Himself has allowed it (Jn.15:19) . But let’s start every day with a prayer, “O Lord, I commit myself to forgive every one who might hurt me today’. Such prayers and commitments build a strong wall around our heart which resists every dart of unforgiveness, anger, bitterness and envy, thus protected from the demonic powers.
A heart that forgives easily is a healthy heart. Such lives enjoy the peace and joy of God in abundance. And only such lives enter the gates of heaven. We live in a world where hurts, offences, envy etc are growing day by day, both within and outside the church boundaries. But let’s keep our hearts immersed in His unconditional love. Jn.13:34-35, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”’ And true love is ability to forgive. Are we His disciples? Does anyone see forgiveness in us? Or are we struggling with unforgiveness deep down within our hearts? Jesus paid the price to set us free from all bondages of sin. Let’s align our hearts on the tracks of ‘the truth’ and free ourselves from all the claims of the evil one over our lives. May we be lives reflecting Christ at every step of our lives.
God bless us all
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A message to those on a high call
This is a night where God is gonna speak personally to us all! Gideon was called as a judge in a time where Israel was going through a tense period of suffering! Israel was impoverished! Even though they knew that God was with them and that they were God’s people, things just weren’t going that well!
The Lord always brings us all together for a purpose so that He can convey a message to us! The Lord sent a prophet to Israel as a solution! It is not that you’re too perfect or too worthy that God should come and help you: God is still able and He is going to do something mighty!
Even if you haven’t been living the holiest of lives, He still loves you! Before God sets or gives you a victory, he sends a messenger to you!
If your mind is not settled, you’ll not walk or experience what he wants for you; that’s why He wants to have your mind ready to receive. Always remember that the battle belongs to the Lord.
Message from The Word – The High Call of Gideon – Pastor Blessen Cherian – 19th July 2019
There are times when life is overwhelming, when all we have is questions. In those moments, hope can feel far away. The great thing about prayer is that it shifts our perspective toward the One who stands ready to listen. No matter what you’re facing, we’d love to pray with you!