Saturday, October 04, 2008

Forgiveness and Marriage (Newsletter Article)

Here is an expanded version of an earlier post I did on the application of Luke 17:4 to marriage for our church's newsletter:

“Familiarity breeds contempt.” We hear this phrase often. While I don’t believe familiarity in general breeds contempt, it certainly can in the context of relationships. We find it much easier to forgive people for whom we can make excuses, or from whom we can remove ourselves. If someone you seldom interact with, like a co-worker in a different department or the guy at the grocery store, does something to offend you, then you can simply move on. You’re not likely to see them again, you say to yourself. Or, you think better of them and assume they’re just be having a bad day. You’re willing to forgive them. It’s not really an issue. That kind of forgiveness is easy.

Marriages, and other close relationships, don’t have that luxury. It is much more difficult to forgive your spouse because you see the worst of them; and, you see it every day. As a result, justification of their actions becomes a lot harder to come by. We get tired of our spouses doing the same thing. So, we get angry a lot easier the next time the same thing happens. We find it more difficult to move on. We find it more difficult to forgive. This is why marriages need Luke 17:4, “If he sins against you seven times in the day and turns to you seven times, saying, "I repent," you must forgive him.”

Luke 17:4 quiets the mouth of excuse. There is never a reason not to forgive. There is never a reason in your marriage to harbor bitterness and anger. Jesus said, “we must forgive.” So, if we apply Luke 17:4 to our marriages I think we should start a new phrase, “Familiarity breeds gospel proclamation.” When you are left without the opportunity to escape a conflict or make excuses for a person, reconciliation only comes through true forgiveness. There are not other options.

So, we have a choice to make in our marriages. Will they be arenas of bitterness, bringing up the past, brooding, and revenge; or, will they be a glorious arena of forgiveness. How we treat our spouses when they offend us says something about what we believe about the gospel. Do we believe that through the cross Jesus forgives our sin, even the same one seventy times seven? Are we willing to forgive as we have been forgiven? Do we see our spouses as forgiven saints through the cross of Jesus Christ?

This creates harmony in relationships in two ways. First, the offended party is eager to forgive. Second, when the one who offended knows he/she will find forgiveness, repentance comes much quicker. Oh, what comfort and love would exists in a marriage where a spouse knows that they will be forgiven.

Let the gospel of Jesus Christ reign in your marriages and other close relationships. While familiarity has great potential to cause contempt, it also provides a canvas on which we can paint the glories of the gospel to a watching world.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sinner Envy is Sin

“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day” –Proverbs 23:17

Advertising agencies hate this verse. OK, not really. Most probably don’t know this verse exists. But, the reality is that their entire purpose in life, their business model, is to get you to envy sinners. They want you to covet what someone else has that you don’t. They use celebrities because they know that you want to be like them.
Now, I want to be careful here. I don’t mean to single out celebrities as sinners and pretend that I am not included in that universal group, save one, called sinners. There is, however, a lifestyle of waste and luxury that doesn’t bode well with sacrificing for the Kingdom of God. Of course, I am sure that I live more laviously than I ought and there are many more sacrifices that I need to make. Perhaps it’s because I’m too busy envying sinners instead of fearing God.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Forgiveness and Marriage

"If he sins against you seven times in the day and turns to you seven times, saying, "I repent," you must forgive him" (Luke 17:4)

Marriages need Luke 17:4. I need this verse in my marriage. I need my wife to be able to forgive me because I am a dreadfully sinful person; and, my wife needs to know that if she comes to me with repentance that I will be quick to forgive. I need both the humility to repent and the humility to forgive. Often pride prevents both.

If a husband and wife knew that each fully accepted that their sins as forgiven on the cross both repentance and forgiveness would come quickly. Let us put this verse into practice with our spouses. Forgiveness in marriage will breed repentance and paint a beautiful picture of the gospel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Be Careful What We Exalt

"For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15b).

What a powerful truth to meditate. Those things which we, in our sin, see as worthy of exaltation are hated by God. We must examine our hearts and ensure that we are not sharing in the exaltation of what is an abomination. We must ask ourselves if what we are participating in holds in high regard what God despises. Are we holding up with our finances those things that God would destroy?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Great God Who Saves

I was given Laura Story's new cd Great God Who Saves this past Sunday and have really been enjoying listening to it. It's been good to be reminded that my God is mighty to save.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Forever Hating

Let me begin this post by saying that I pray all will repent and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That being said, I often come upon the misconception that those who are condemned to Hell will wish they had repented and trusted in Jesus. The reality is that they will hate Jesus more than ever and continue to rebel against him.

In Revelation 16 we see this concept repeated three times. As the angels pour out their bowls of wrath on non-believing sinners, demonstrating the power and wrath of God, "they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory" (16:9). This is repeated in verse 11 and verse 21. They curse God for the infliction he brings upon them. They don't wish they had trusted in Him, they hate Him.

Apart from the gracious work of Christ on the cross and the awakening power of the Holy Spirit that opens blind eyes, we would forever be enemies of God. Forever.

Hell will not be full of screams of regret, but of hatred. Their eternal punishment will be just.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Do Not Labor for the Food That Perishes

"Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” -John 6:27

We are guilty of this on a daily basis. We are consumed with our temporal satisfaction and we work hard to get it. We schedule our days around our meals. We leave work in the middle of the day. We just stop what we are doing because of the hunger pangs of our stomach. We can’t stand the ache of not having food. Jesus says to us, “Love me like that.” You have a road trip planned and you know you have to get up early to get to where you’re going. It’s no struggle because your heart is full of the excitement of the day that awaits you. Jesus says to us, “Love me like that.” Maybe it’s Thursday night and your favorite TV show is coming on. You ensure that everything gets taken care of so you can sit down and watch the show. And, even if you don’t get the work done it can wait until later. Jesus is saying to us, “Love me like that.”

Scholars Question the Resurrection

Okay, I know there's nothing shocking about that title. This has been the case for 2000 years now, but today's New York Times brings it to the table once again. The story calls the resurrection into question because a tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew on it seems to indicate that there was a tradition that the Jewish Messiah would die and be raised from the dead in three days. So, some are concluding that this in fact proves the resurrection of Jesus to be fabricated because Jesus and his followers were just trying to "fit the mold" of what the Messiah was to be.

The problem, of course, is that this reasoning negates the resurrection regardless of whether there was such tradition or not. If the resurrection occurred and there was no written tradition for such in Judaism, then he cannot be the Jewish Messiah. Instead, they claim this concept was developed later and written back in by the disciples. Now, they say, it can be proven that the tradition pre-dated the cross, but that simply means Jesus was trying to be something he wasn't. Instead of modifying their conclusions, they keep them, because they are already convinced such a resurrection is not possible.

There are few clearer examples of forcing the evidence to justify one's conclusions. A natural conclusion would be that this concept came from the OT Scriptures, though possibly misguided at times and misdirected (ie the Messiah being someone named Simon as the article indicates). Jesus himself said that Jonah's three days in the whale was a sign. So, there is OT precedent for a concept of three days.

I pray God will open their blinded eyes.