Kill The Opposition

Kill the Opposition            03/26/2014

Knowing that I might not be to full steam after my surgery and realizing the new Joshua Generation month on “godliness” would be starting, I chose an article by one of our former preachers, Neil Richey to introduce the month. I will make some application comments at the end.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend.” Have you taken out your opposition with kindness lately? Or, have you stooped to the level of the one making your life miserable by treating him or her just as they have been treating you? E.H. Chapin had it right when he said, “Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.” The Bible tells us, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6:14-15).

Forgiveness is one of the more difficult practical elements of Christianity. It’s almost natural to want to hold on to hard feelings, and not let go of the hurt that one has caused you. But in this passage, Jesus warns us against such a spirit of malice. He reminds us that if we want to experience forgiveness, we must likewise learn to forgive. It’s not an easy matter, so here’s something that might help to put it into perspective:

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Rm. 5:7-9).

As difficult as it may be to forgive one who sins against you, and as easy as it may be to hold a grudge, try killing your opposition with kindness. Who knows, your enemy may just become your friend.  Neil

You might ask, what does this have to do with godliness. The primary meaning of the Biblical word godliness is “to have reverence or respect” for things that are holy. When we forgive we show reverence for the choice and wisdom of Christ and the Father in their desire to forgive us. When we refuse forgiveness we are saying that we are a better judge than Christ, that the people he thought worth dying for are not worthy of our forgiveness. Every time we are sinned against and have the choice to forgive, let us bow in reverence once again at the foot of the cross thankful for the forgiveness of our own dark sins. Then we may be more willing to forgive our fellow man.

Joseph Forgives

Good morning. Our memory verse this week is Mark 11:25. Remember to forgive in order to be forgiven. One of the great stories of forgiveness is found in the Old Testament and very worthy of our consideration. Some people believe that the New Testament is a law of love and the Old Testament was a law of works. God does not make that distinction. It was a mistaken idea that some of the Jews began to believe about the old law. But there are certain principles of God that have always been part of his will. Love was first an O.T. law. God’s law of love was always part of his laws (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). And we are given an outstanding example of forgiveness during the time of the patriarchs in the story of the relationship between Joseph and his brothers. As we touch on the facts of this story, please ask yourself how you would have reacted had you been treated this way by your family. Our text is Genesis 44 although I highly recommend that you read once again this entire event beginning with chapter 37. Joseph was hated by his brothers. They had no doubt shown that hatred in shunning him and being mean to him for years. On this occasion, at 17 years of age, Jacob sent Joseph to some far off fields to see how his brothers were doing in keeping the flocks. They attacked Joseph and plotted to kill him. Think how that would shock to learn you own brothers hated you enough to kill you. Reuben prevented the killing, but the brothers still sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph, in a godly way, endures slavery, false accusation and imprisonment. During the years of his slavery, imprisonment and estrangement from his father, Joseph had very much time to nurse a grudge against his older brothers, but he did not. What would you have done? With God’s help, he rises to great power in Egypt. Now, his brothers need something from him – food. He recognizes them immediately, but they do not know him. It becomes obvious in the text that Joseph has long since forgiven his brothers. He desired to be reunited with them, his father and younger brother. He loved them. A grudge against them or any of his oppressors in Egypt seemed to never be an issue. Joseph does all that he can to help his family and bring about a reunion with them.

I cannot answer for you. Nothing this drastic has ever happened to me. It has for some: consider the holocaust, Vietnam, other wars, divorces with lost parental rights, etc. When we look around us and see how many families are estranged from one another, we realize the great character of forgiveness Joseph had. None of us, I suspect, who are reading this have be so shamefully mistreated. We cannot imagine such hatred against us. Truly, love and forgiveness can help us through a lot of mistreatment. Let’s be like Joseph.

The Prodigal’s Family

Good morning. Our memory verse this week is Ephesians 4:32. In Luke 15:11-32 we have a contrast of the attitudes that cause forgiveness and those that keep us from forgiving. The parable of the prodigal son provides a platform for us to examine ourselves as to whose character we are most like. When the prodigal son “came to himself,” he decided to return to his father. Notice some lessons about forgiveness from this parable.

The father was obviously desirous of his son’s return. The offense committed was against the father, not the older brother. Nevertheless, our Bibles give us the picture that the father anxiously awaited the son’s return. When you have been sinned against, do you anxiously desire the repentance of the sinner? Or, do you, perhaps, wish to stay angry a little longer. Some are as offended by an apology as by a sin. They want to nurse the hurt, anger and bitterness and almost feel robbed when they are called upon to give it up. It is almost like they say in their mind, “How dare they think that an apology can change the hurt and trouble they have caused me?” Of course, it cannot. Forgiveness means we accept the cost of the sin against ourselves without exacting payment of the sinner.

The older brother had undoubtedly nursed his anger after his younger brother left. During the absence of his brother, he continued to dwell on the offense (maybe not openly) even though it was not against him. With the return of the brother, his anger comes to the forefront when the younger son is accorded his old status and position with rejoicing. Quite possibly, there was some part of him that wanted the return of his brother, but jealousy and self-appreciation brought his anger to the front.

The father wanted to celebrate the return of the young man. His brother did not even want to see or greet the returned prodigal. Have you ever been in the position of not wanting to see or speak with a brother who has sinned against you? Have you ever seen a brother or sister welcomed back while you withheld your welcome?

The father welcomed the son back unconditionally. He did not follow the request of the son to make him a servant, but gave him the family ring and a robe showing his sonship fully restored. It is impossible to treat someone we have not forgiven in our heart with our full trust and confidence. As humans, it is hard when we have forgiven them. But the father did not put the son on trial or probation. He accepted him. Don’t you love to be accepted?

The older brother seems to have thought that he deserved more than his prodigal sibling. He begrudged what his brother was now receiving. It is a spirit very much like some of the laborers in the vineyard in Mt. 20:10-12. They thought they deserved better treatment. We forget that no matter what good we may have done, we constantly also need forgiveness. Shall we complain of others whom the grace of God has changed and saved as we also have been blessed?

Forgive to be forgiven