Grace Contagious

Grace is contagious[1].

Highly contagious.

And even the most stubborn, hard-core hater can’t go to the local drugstore for a vaccine against it.  Even he, yes, he! . . Even she, yes, she! . . Even the ones you can’t even picture smiling or giving, even THEY can become infectious with the grace of Jesus Christ.

Find someone to give grace to today.

And don’t be surprised if it’s the person you DIDN‘T have in mind.

Oh, make no mistake, it will probably be someone who really annoys you–and not just a little bit!  Or someone who you struggle with hating.  Or someone you’ve had a long-term grudge against for 21 years.  God will give you the opportunity to spread His grace to people like that {and also the teenager who cuts you off in traffic and the man interrupting your dinner date with his loud cell phone conversation and the coworker who goes on and on about political beliefs that are opposite to you and . . you get the idea 😉 }.

Grace is contagious.

Spread it around.

Can’t do it?  No way?

None of us can.  Only Jesus can give you the quality of grace.  The world will look at it with wonder and confusion or even recoil and call it a disease.  But once you receive grace, you see that you are ‘infected’ not with a pathogen, but infused with benevolence meant to bless every single person in the world.

. . And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. (Luke 11:4a, HCSB)

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[1] I don’t know who first said this, common phrase on internet.

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So absorbed

Isn’t it true I should be so absorbed in what has been done for me that I don’t have time to deal with what others might have done to me?

Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ERV)

Published in: on April 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Christmas Countdown: Day 13

Dear Lord,

It’s Your gift, my only chance for Heaven, and yet the hardest thing for me to give others.

I pray for forgiveness.

I pray I will receive forgiveness from You, because without it, I have no access to Heaven.  Without forgiveness, the gate is forever shut.

And I pray I will give forgiveness to everyone who hurts me.  You make it clear that, once You gave forgiveness to the world through Jesus Christ, You expected the world to respond with forgiveness to each other.

There is no wound anyone could ever inflict on me that could compare to the wound I inflicted on You at the cross.

I pray for forgiveness.  Forgiveness for me, forgiveness that pours over my life to drench everyone in my path.  It’s not my forgiveness, Lord, You know it’s not.  It’s Your forgiveness, shared through me, only because You gave it to me in the first place.

I love You, Jesus.

And I pray for forgiveness.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. (Psalm 86:5, NLT)

He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. (1 Timothy 2:6, NLT)

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:7, NLT)

Worse off

The servant ends up worse off than before.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 

“I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.  For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves.  When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him.  Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt.

“At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’  Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.

“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii.  He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’

“At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’  But he wasn’t willing.  On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed.  When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened.

“Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave!  I forgave  you all that debt because you begged me.  Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’  And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers until he could pay everything that was owed.  So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35, HCSB)

I don’t want to end up worse off than before.

I want my forgiveness for others to be as real as the forgiveness I want to receive from God.

If I’m not planning on forgiving, I would be better off not asking for God’s forgiveness.  I would be better off than receiving God’s forgiveness through the death of Jesus Christ and then failing to forgive others.

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (Matthew 6:14-15, CEV)

Limiting forgiveness?

I remember reading one time in a self-help book that we don’t have to forgive what is not done to us.  In other words, if someone hurts my friend, that burden of forgiveness is not mine to forgive.  After all, it wasn’t done against me, it was done against my friend.

Well, that made since to me, but then, that means absolutely nothing.  What I should have asked back then was: Does this follow in line with God’s thinking, as He revealed Himself through His Word?

What about when David murdered God’s friend, Uriah?  Did God not have to forgive David because the sin was done towards Uriah?  What about when God forgave Manasseh, who burned his children alive in a fire?  Did God not have to forgive Manasseh because the sin was done towards the children and not to Him?

What about Peter?  Did God the Father not have to forgive Peter for what he did to Jesus when Peter denied he knew Jesus three times in His time of greatest need?

God affirms a bond to us when He says,

“‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 25:40b)

God does feel our pain.  And He does have to forgive us for the pain we cause others.

God not only created us bonded to Him, but He also created us to bond with each other.  When we see someone hurt someone else, we, too, are hurt (I hope).  We should not witness evil and be unmoved.  Sin is not committed against one individual.  Sin is committed against God, and, as such, it affects all of His creation.

When someone sins against us, those of us who are Christ followers must forgive them.  But even when someone sins against someone we love, if we follow Christ, we must forgive them because they have done something against us—knowingly or unknowingly.  They have hurt us by hurting someone we love.  And we can forgive them for the pain they have caused us–but only through Jesus.

Forgiveness is a painful thing.  It hurts and, contrary to popular belief, it is not therapeutic.  That misses the whole point of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is about blessing the other person, not blessing myself.  It’s about blessing someone when they should be cursed; loving someone when they should be hated.

But why on earth would we do such a thing?  I know why I would.  For every one thing I could find to forgive, God has forgiven me ten billion more.  My life is utterly hopeless without God’s forgiveness, not just His forgiveness of what I have done against Him, but His forgiveness of what I have done against all I have sinned against.

Thinking this way, then, forgiving others of all they have done that causes me pain—whether it was done directly against me or done against me by hurting someone I love—is the only way for me to be.  It is the only way I can reflect, in a tiny and broken way, the love shown me by God.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15, NKJV)

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own people holy and dearly loved, with tender-heartedness, kindness, lowliness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another and readily forgiving each other, if any one has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13, Weymouth)

Intercession

And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them. (Hebrews 7:25, NLV)

And yet am I to go to Jesus and have the audacity to say that I cannot intercede for my fellow brothers and sisters in the human race, for what little bit they may do to harm me?

One of the most famous Bible characters from the Old Testament, King David, murdered a man to cover up his affair with the man’s wife.  When he was confronted with his sin, he made this statement:

Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight (Psalm 51:4, AKJV)

Ultimately, sin is between the person who committed it and God, not between the person who committed it and me.

But I can pray for God to open their heart so they will know to ask for forgiveness.

If you see another believer committing a sin that doesn’t lead to death, you should pray that God would give that person life. (1 John 5:16, GW)

We also need to have a heart of forgiveness towards lost people, who are not our brothers and sisters in spirit, but are our brothers and sisters in flesh.

Christ Jesus prayed this for the very people who crucified Him:

And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But they, dividing his garments, cast lots. (Luke 23:34, DR)

While Jesus is praying for the people, they are gambling to see who gets his clothes.  Jesus is stripped of His clothes, stripped of His flesh.

The perfect Son of God is praying that those who have made Him unrecognizable as a human (see Isaiah 52:14) will be covered in His sacrifice.

Surely I can pray for forgiveness for anyone who might do what little harm they can do to me.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. (1 Timothy 2:1, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

What I thought: God will forgive me even if I am not able to forgive others.

What I thought: God will forgive me even if I am not able to forgive others.

What I learned: God will not forgive me if I don’t forgive.

Only one thing is missing from this sign: "And never be forgiven."

But if you do not let men have forgiveness for their sins, you will not have forgiveness from your Father for your sins. (Jesus, Matthew 6:15, BBE)

When I ask God to forgive me, He pours His forgiveness on my life like a rain cloud, but if I hold an umbrella over people who have offended me, God withdraws His cloud of forgiveness from me.  (But what if I really am not able to forgive?  See blog, What I thought: I can forgive.)

And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers until he could pay everything that was owed.  So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 18:34-35, HCSB)

I think of this like giving a child a box of cookies bigger than she will possibly need, and then sending her off to play.  If that child wraps her arms around the box of cookies as soon as other children approaches and refuses to share or even hits children who try to get close, what is our response?  Take the cookies away and give them to the other children.  They were a gift to be shared but they are being treated as a right to be selfish.

How much more is God offended when He gives me a limitless gift and I refuse to share?

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Jesus, quoted in Mark 11:25, ESV)

Photo by Jcrakow, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/bionicfarmer/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.