Forgiveness

True Biblical forgiveness is perhaps one of the most difficult things to extend. This is particularly true when someone wrongs us multiple times, perhaps even in the same way. Can we forgive someone who has committed adultery against us? Can we forgive someone who continually speaks lies about us? Can we forgive someone who has abused us? Can we forgive someone whoForgivem we think does not deserve forgiveness?

Can we? Yes. Do we? Unfortunately not all the time, but we should.

Peter had a conversation with Christ regarding the issue of forgiveness in Matthew 18. In this discussion there is no particular offense stated, only the generic reference to being sinned against, so any human offense could be included. While there are no doubt many things that can be learned from this passage, I would like to point out a few that struck me this morning.

Forgiveness is limitless. While we may not verbalize it, we often have a limit on how many times we will forgive someone, especially for a repeated offense. But in reality, there should be no limit on how many times we forgive others. That is a difficult principle, but one to which we must yield our wills.

Forgiveness is compassionate. There is true compassion, true love, extended when we forgive someone else. It shows that we are willing to reconcile and build the relationship, as difficult as it may be.

Forgiveness is reciprocal. By this I mean that it reflects the very forgiveness which has been extended to us by God through Jesus Christ. God has forgiven us of our infinite debt; we ought to forgive others of their miniscule sin against us. Sin always hurts, and this does not minimize that hurt; yet in comparison with our sin against a holy and infinite God, other sins against us are not as grievous. Therefore we ought to forgive others based on God’s forgiveness of us.

Forgiveness is genuine. It comes from the heart. It does not bring up that offense to that person again, nor to ourselves, nor to anyone else. Heart-felt forgiveness does not hold grudges, or gossip about the offender.

Forgiveness is godly. Cultivating a heart of forgiveness is cultivating the heart of our Father in heaven. God is ready to forgive, which should be our heart as well.

People will sin against us because we live in a sinful world. Yet God’s children ought to forgive, as we have been forgiven in Christ. This is not always easy, but it is possible, if we only submit ourselves to the absolute truth of Scripture rather than to our fickle emotions and our sinful flesh.

Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Unbelief in Christianity

Matthew 13:58, “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

Could the sin of unbelief be a problem that plagues the American church today? I think so. In the context of this verse in Matthew 13, the people rejected the words of Christ as well as the works of Christ. And aren’t those the same two things that even God’s people will sometimes attack, though maybe not as blatantly or overtly as they did in Matthew 13? Let me focus on just one of those two aspects, though.unbelief

Christ’s words, and by extension, the words of the entire Scripture, are not to be doubted or ignored, but believed. Belief demands submission. If we Christians say we believe the Bible, then we must submit ourselves to what those Scriptures teach. We say we believe the Bible, but our beliefs are displayed through our actions. And when our actions go against the teachings of the Scripture, we reveal our lack of true belief in those Scriptures which we claim to believe so much. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “why do you call me Lord Lord and do not the things that I say?” The claim of belief without the actions of belief reveal a lack of belief. And because of this, Christ’s mighty works are not seen because of unbelief.

Christians must live out their claimed belief in Christ by submitting themselves to the teachings of the Scriptures. Reading the Bible alone does not meet that standard. Memorizing the Bible doesn’t even mean we have submitted ourselves to its truth. Every one of us as Christians, if we are going to claim full belief in the Scriptures, must yield the entirety of our minds, our hearts, and even our wills to the truth and teaching of Scriptures. Anything less than this reveals a lack of true belief.

Our belief in God’s truth is put to the test when we do not understand or cannot comprehend that truth? Our belief in God’s Word is not dependent upon our ability to comprehend God’s Word. There are many things that are hard to understand, but which we must believe nonetheless. Our belief in God’s truth is put to the test though we cannot physically see God. Yet Christ told Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed (John 20:29). Our belief in God’s truth is based on the source of this truth: God Himself. Therefore, whatever God says we must believe. And, subsequently, we must yield our wills to those same truths, no matter how difficult or counter-cultural they may be.

What could Christ do in His church today if His people truly believed? By God’s grace, let’s find out.

Humility in Parenting

Too many parents are hungry for power over their children. You see this in public places, where parhumility-copyents try to lord their authority over their children in ways that bribe them or threaten them into submission. There is no display of love, no thought of cultivating a relationship, and certainly no humility. Those kinds of parents raise angry children who will grow up to be angry and rebellious teenagers and eventually distant adults who want little or nothing to do with their parents – unless, of course, the grace of God intervenes and rescues those people from their sins in salvation.

Parenting is not a matter of always being right. It is a matter of being biblical, godly, and humble. While the biblical authority structure must be adhered to, the godly parent will remain humble in his position of authority, whether he is right or wrong in any situation.

It is our job as parents to shepherd the hearts of our children towards Christ-likeness. This implies a shepherd/sheep relationship, understanding that our task as shepherds is a daunting one that requires outside help. We must seek to mimic our Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is “meek and lowly of heart.” He is the chief authority, and yet displays amazing humility in His authority. This is our model as parents.

In John 13, when the Lord washed the disciples’ feet, there were certain things John says to preface that beautiful scene. Christ knew, for instance, that Judas was merely minutes away from leaving to betray Him, and yet Christ washed his feet. Think about the humility in that action. The feet which would soon run to betray Him were washed by the humble hands of Christ. Apply this to parenting. Our children may do cruel things against us, but are we willing to remain humble before them, and serve them in humility, even as our Lord served his betrayer?

Christ also knew His position of great authority. Think about it. Christ was the only one in that group of thirteen who deserved to be served, and yet He was the only one who was willing to serve the others by washing their feet. The Master served the disciples in humility. As parents, it can be easy for us to use our authority as a means of escaping certain tasks that we don’t like to do and make our children do them. Or we refuse to do certain things because we are above those tasks. Those responses do not communicate humility like our Savior.

Christ loved those disciples to the very end. His love was demonstrated to them in humble service. We as parents say we love our children, but are we willing to serve them in various ways? Don’t get me wrong. This does not do away with the parent/child distinction and authority structure. However, can we do favors for our children, get something they forgot in the house, or help them perform tasks around the house, all with a humble heart?

Godly parenting is humble parenting, recognizing that we are not the supreme authority of our home. Christ must be the head of our home. We are all under His authority, and must function according to His standards, through the power of the Holy Spirit and His grace. In humility, Christ willingly went to the cross for us. In humility we, as parents, must exemplify Christ before our children. We must humbly pray for God to save them, sanctify them, and make them humble servants of Christ.

Humility in Marriage

Marriage is a call to die to self and live for another. No marriage is honoring to the Lord which seeks to simply live for self. Pride in marriage is never viewed as a virtue, but as a vice. In fact, it is a vice that will squeezeGUWG-Humility the joy and the life out of a marriage and cause it to crumble and fall apart.

Humility in marriage is an essential quality required of both husband and wife. If a husband is to love his wife like Christ loved the church, then he must be willing to humbly give himself for his bride, and truly love her. This kind of love is self sacrificial for the benefit of his wife, with no thought of himself. A husband who loves his wife with the kind of love required in Ephesians 5 does so without any thought of getting anything in return. He loves and he gives simply for the joy of pleasing and providing for his wife. A Christian husband ought not enter into marriage, nor learn to function within a marriage with the mindset that he deserves anything. The only thing a husband deserves is hell; anything better than that is grace. He doesn’t deserve the wife he has, the children he has, the job he has, or the “free time”  that he may have. A husband does not deserve time out with the guys, or his own “man cave,” or the ability to purchase anything he wants without discussing things with his wife. A husband is never commended for being domineering, dictatorial, demanding, demeaning, defiant, or destructive towards his wife. Such behavior is contrary to everything God requires in marriage. It is a sinful offense to a loving and holy God; it is also a sinful offense against his wife. Repentance must be exhibited both towards God and his wife, and restoration of those relationships must be cultivated in humility. Marriage is a call to die to self, and a husband must die to self and live for the glory of the Lord by loving his wife in humility.

The same principles are true for wives. While wives are specifically told to submit to and respect their husbands, these are to be exhibited in humility. No husband who honors the Lord will demand those qualities of his wife; and no wife who honors the Lord will neglect those qualities in her own life. Humility in marriage is a two-lane highway, where both husband and wife need to be clothed with humility. A wife ought not enter into marriage, nor learn to function within a marriage with a mindset that she deserves anything either. The only thing a wife deserves is hell; anything better than that is grace. A wife does not deserve time out with the girls, or her own dream home, or a wardrobe that is “hip” or trendy. A wife must be humble before her husband, just as she is before the Lord. This does not mean she cannot voice concerns, or share perspectives, or give input to decisions. In fact, any husband in his right mind will welcome and invite all of those things (and much more) from his wife, knowing that God has given his wife to him for a reason. Humility in a wife does not mean being a doormat or a punching bag or a sex toy. Humility in a wife means that she functions in the way God has designed her to function, with grace, dignity, chastity, shame-facedness, and respect.

Humility is a necessary quality if any marriage is going to be honoring to the Lord. A marriage that is not clothed with humility will be a marriage that is ripped apart by pride. When each spouse functions with humility, God will always give grace to be the kind of spouse that they should be, and to have the kind of home that gives Him glory.

The Chief Virtue

“If pride is the greatest and essential sin, then humility is the supreme virtue; and if huhumilitymility was the distinguishing feature of the Master, then it must characterize the disciple, for ‘the servant is not greater than his lord’ (John 13:16).” – Oswald Sanders, The Incomparable Christ, 109.

Humility is a virtue that everyone Christian knows is important to possess, but not everyone is willing to cultivate. Pride is an inherent quality in every one of us and therefore comes easy for us. We inherited pride from Adam. We have learned well how to feed our pride, how to garner friendships which stroke our pride, and how to remove or bypass those things which attack our pride.

Pride is what leads us into sin; humility is what leads us to Christ.

Pride is what stymies the work of grace in our lives; humility is the conduit of grace.

Pride is what keeps us from being effective for Christ; humility is necessary for effective service.

Pride tells us “it is your choice; do what you want;” humility says “what do you want me to do, Lord?”

Pride deceives people into thinking they are great; humility is an essential quality of greatness.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is “lowly of heart” (Matthew 11:29), and calls all of his followers to humble themselves as well. This humility recognizes our place in this world and in this universe. We are not God, nor are we little gods. We have no personal rights, but have responsibilities before God, our Master. We die to self, and live unto Christ.

Humility must be cultivated even when we are confronted with our sinful choices, when we are confronted with dangerous and/or unwise decisions, when we are challenged to think Biblically rather than emotionally, and when demands are placed upon us that we do not like nor want to do.

Humility does not speak every word that comes into our minds; humility thinks about whether or not those words are filled with grace, humility, and Christ-like love. Humility is not silent, but neither is it brazen, brash, or rude.

For the Christian, humility is the chief virtue. It is what characterized our Lord’s life and it should be the life pursuit of every one of his followers as well. It is time for God’s people to get serious about humility, the chief of the Christian virtues.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phlippians 2:5).

I must be in my Father’s house

I find it interesting that the first recorded words of our Lord Jesus Christ, spoken to his parents, had to do with the necessity of his being in his “Father’s house,” the temple. This was the place of worship, the place of theological discussion, and the place of great spiritual significance. It should have bhbceen the first place Mary and Joseph looked to find their son.

As New Testament believers, we are individually the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19) and collectively as a church body we are also called the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). But there is a correlation between the Old Testament Temple, and the New Testament church. We gather for corporate worship as a church; we engage in theological discussions through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word; we grow in our spiritual maturity through the means of the church.

What better place to be on the Lord’s Day than with God’s people? What better way to spend our time on the Lord’s Day than engaged in spiritual pursuits? What better entity to revolve our lives around than the visible representation of Christ’s body, the church?

The church is meant to elevate God’s people above the fray of the world, through proper worship of God. This, in turn, will fuel our daily living for the glory of God.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “The more the Church has accommodated her message to suit the palate of the people the greater has been the decline in attendance in places of worship” (Murray, Lloyd-Jones, Messenger of Grace, 13).

Being in church on the Lord’s Day is the place to hear God’s message, to minister to and with God’s people, to grow in our understanding of God’s grace, and to ascribe God’s glory to Him.

Where will you be on the Lord’s Day? May we say with Christ, “I must be in my Father’s house.”