Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.  

I want to take the time to discuss about forgivingness and all it entails, the power behind it and just how much can we as people can forgive.   On a daily basis we can forgive others who wronged us over various matters, as when they take their anger out on us, when they lie to us, they damage of property, steal from us, or even assault us.  It comes easy to forgive when the person who wronged us steps up and apologizes, admitting their offense and tries to make amends.  It also comes easy to forgive our loved ones, closest friends, neighbors or even strangers or you know the person we are forgiving is naturally a good person.  However, what about forgiving over extreme offenses that tests your will to forgive.  Such as when a spouse betrays you through adultery or harms you through physical or emotional abuse or just walks out on you.  When a parent who is suppose to protect you, harms you or abandons you when growing up.  Someone you trusted betrays you in the worst ways imaginable from harming or even molesting your child, to committing a heinous violation on you(rape, brutal assault, robbing, kidnapping ).  Maybe someone murdered or raped a loved one in your family tried to murder you committing unspeakable acts upon you or a relative, closest friend etc could anybody possible forgive in these circumstances? 

Also, do we have to forgive such offenses right or away, is that what God commands?  There are some who will use Matthew 6:14-15 as a tool to guilt others into forgiving anyone who has wronged you no matter what the offense or else God won’t welcome us into his kingdom in heaven when we die.  Because of this, many have felt the pressures of forgiving no matter how serious or horrible the offense and the guilt if they don’t or least not right away or entirely.  Many people struggle with forgiving feeling is a way for salvation and God to bless them.  The fact remains there are several verses in the bible that says we must forgive.  Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”.  Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”.  Luke 17:3-4 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 

However, I don’t believe it is essential to enter heaven in the eternal afterlife, in which if we don’t forgive all the people who have ever wronged us throughout our entire life by the time we die, God will condemn us to hell.  Besides, as I stated in a previous post, once we receive Jesus Christ, all are sins are forgiving and we don’t need perform certain tasks to earn his blessings but just our faith.  However, I do believe forgiveness as a whole is necessary in order to follow Christ and be a glory to him.  In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus was teaching his followers about praying and how to ask the Lord to forgive them for their sins as they forgive others for the sins the commit upon them.  He was making it a point that is quite hypocritical to plead for God’s forgiveness for their sins when they can’t forgive other’s sins and he was right.  Sometimes we tend to expect to be forgiven either by God when we sin or by others when we wrong them, but as soon other people wrong us, we have a hard to time returning the gesture even if offenses committed are the same ones we committed to them.  For example, when someone betrays their spouse through adultery or a friend by stabbing them in the back, then they apologize and beg forgiveness, but the shoe becomes on the other foot, and that person is on the receiving end of that same betrayal, he/she has a harder time forgiving because it now happened to them.  

In this way, we become hypocrites, since how can we beg others or the Lord to forgiven our sins or offenses and then can’t bestow others the same forgiveness we desire.  Forgiveness is not always an easy task, it can become harder depending on how serious the offense.  We are imperfect human beings so it’s natural when we are betrayed or horribly wronged we feel react in anger, rage, hostility and the need to lash out and even hurt them the way they hurt us although the bible speaks against seeking vengeance, it is still an natural impulse to do we still should strive to retrain from this.  Also sometimes we reasons we don’t forgive is because of a selfish desire lord it over the person who wronged us all the misdeeds the committed against us punish them and to play the victim feeding on their guilt.  Others confuse forgiveness as excusing the wrongs and letting the offender off the hook therefore forgiveness is seen as a weakness.  Forgiveness does require letting go of the anger, and the need to punish and hold a grudge against others but does not mean excusing or condoning the offense but no longer holding others actions over them and it takes a lot of strength and strong will power to do. Still, forgiveness is not something we can demand or force others to do, or force ourselves to do like is a simple chore.  Depending on how extreme the offense is, sometimes forgiveness may take time for person to do in which they need to heal from the pain and anguish they are feeling first before they can let themselves forgive an offense.  It may take months for some it may event take years to completely forgive someone but is possible to forgive even the most unforgivable act.  

Yet some well-meaning Christians will use bible verses to pressure or guilt someone forgiving or else God will reject them.  I’ve read articles in which pastors and parishioners alike insists forgiveness is demanded by God and some insist we should forgive right away or we as Christians are not welcomed in the kingdom of heaven, or we are hard-hearted people.  I don’t agree these types of methods to which many people will put pressure on themselves out of guilt and shame to forgive in order to be “good Christian person” fearing they God will reject or that they are hypocrites who are dishonoring the Lord.  The problem is forgiveness doesn’t come from their hearts in these situations, instead it is out of fear not pleasing God and not being true believer.  I believe even as followers of Christ, we are still only human and should be allowed with all the human emotions that are reasonable.  Sometimes it is best to let others or let ourselves feel anger, hurt, betrayal, rage whenever we a terrible wrong as been committed against us rather than repress them.  

However, in time as we get these feelings out of our system, we should strive to heal rather than hold a grudge indefinitely that poisons our hearts.  Also, we should show mercy, patience and understanding to others who show such anger when they have been done a terrible offense and not yet ready to let that anger go rather than patronizingly tell them to just forgive the offense and move on, especially if we can’t possibly comprehend what they are going through or experience the same offense ourselves.  We should also show patience to ourselves if we can’t forgive right away, our angry feelings are normal and justified at the moment may pass in time through healing relying on God’s help.  Many has been said about forgiving those who apologize and repent and deserve our forgiveness but what about those who don’t repent, are not remorseful and seem undeserving.   I recall watching a program on the Investigative Discovery channel about a Christian man who murdered his wife, although he claimed she shot her by accident it was later learned he was having affair with another woman during their courtship and continued it after their marriage. He may have only married his wife because of the pressures from his family rather than out of love and may have murdered her in order to be with is mistress.  I read on forum from other Christians discussing the events saying how they forgive him because he deserves forgiveness even judging others who don’t. 

 Although, I think it was admirably that they forgive this man’s sins, I couldn’t help wonder why they actually felt he deserved forgiveness or why they believed it was their place to forgive since they didn’t know him and he crimes wasn’t against them or their loved ones.  Thinking about this again I started to wonder whether is forgiving always about whether the person is deserving of it.  What can make forgiveness so amazing sometimes is when it is giving to people who don’t deserve it.  I have read cases of people forgiving people who raped them, murdered or accidentally killed their loved ones, burglarized their homes, been abused by a family member or spouse, not because they deserved it but to let get of their pain and bitterness which would enable them to move on.  Also, sometimes they actually feel pity for the offenders who suffered horrible pain and tragedy in their own lives that led them to take the direction their lives that caused them to commit such heinous acts. The bottom line is its okay to sometimes forgive the undeserving and unrepentant and to feel sympathy for their sad and sinful lives and even pray for them.  That’s not an easy task to do and I personally wouldn’t condemn anyone who couldn’t do that or not for a long time and it is the trulest amazing power of forgiveness. 

Jesus himself begged God to forgive those who rebuked them when he was on the cross and God blessed and forgave our sins even though it wasn’t deserved but was his amazing gift to us.  Last point about forgiveness is that it isn’t the same as forgetting.  Just because you chose to forgive an offense doesn’t mean you just forget the offense nor does it mean there isn’t any consequences for the offender.  For example if a person damages someone’s property, he/she may forgive the offense but still hold that person accountable to pay for the damages.  If someone commits a crime against another, the victim may forgive the offender but still hold him/her accountable under the law and expect fair justice. Another point is forgiving someone doesn’t mean we just trust the offender again.  A trust can be broken when there is betrayal like when a spouse commits adultery or family member steals from another or there is constant dishonesty.  However, trust can be regained but it has to be earned in time through repentance, healing and actions while turning to God for strength.  

Through our trust in the Lord, the power of forgiveness can be possible even for the most unforgivable sins and showing the ability to show mercy on others even on the undeserving can liberate us from pain and bitterness and takes true strength in ways we didn’t know possible.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Does Embracing God Prevent Bad Experiences For Believers?

Ephesians 6:8 “Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.”

I started this post, because I’ve been thinking a lot about whether embracing God and obeying his laws guarantees you are rewarded with good things and nothing bad can happen to you.  I’ve questioned this a lot even after a year ago finding a comment on a facebook page by a Christian woman who posted that her husband is leaving her filing for divorce despite the fact she forgave him when he cheated on her and was emotionally abusive, but decided to except the divorce.  However, one commenter who disagreed with her decision responded that if she obeyed God’s laws he would reward her.  I’m assuming she was suggesting that if she stayed faithful to God and follow his will, he will reward her by restoring her marriage, but what if that didn’t happen?  I find myself coming back and forth whether obeying God’s commands promises the believer under his protection and blessed with only the good out of life. 

I read several cases of Christians claiming how they prayed to God, obeyed his will and he healed their diseases or any handicaps, restored their marriages, protected them from tragedy by it death or other injuries.  Many will turn to the verses such as Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”.  Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known”.  But what about those who obey God’s words, pray and read the bible everyday, attend church regularly and yet receive many sufferings including, illness, loss, tragedy, divorce and even death.  In fact, many bad things occur to those who follow Christ over the past centuries and still occur today.  I have read stories of Christian aid workers being killed abroad in Middle Eastern and African countries or Christians in these countries be persecuted for their religious beliefs. Even in Western countries, there are accounts of scandals in the church involving sexual abuse, murder sometimes involving church leaders. The bible even mentions plenty of righteous people suffering and being oppressed while the wicked prosper with riches and privileges.  In the book of Job, Job was righteous man who was blessed by God, who then decided to test his devotion by allowing the Devil to cause him suffering, losing his wealth, his home, his children and his health to deteriorate. The martyrs mentioned in the bible who were crucified including some of Jesus twelve apostles such as Simon Peter, Phillip and James, as well as Saint Stephen, the first martyr, Mark the Evangelist and Saint Paul.  

Throughout the ancient early centuries and the later centuries there is a history of saints and heroes/heroines who were martyred for their faith and of course Jesus himself was unjustly persecuted and later crucified on the cross. The fact remains, many people who spend their lives doing righteous and honorable deeds experience suffering, persecution and even killed because of it, while those who commit wicket and selfish acts may go unpunished for their misdeeds and may being benefit from it through riches and other privileges.  Although I don’t believe God wants good people to suffer, the reality is that life is not always fair or easy and the Lord is aware of that. He allows people to have free will to turn against him and give into Satan’s will by oppressing or committing heinous acts on others, deserting their spouses and families break the law or harm themselves with irresponsible and destructive actions like addiction, smoking tobacco too much, neglecting their health until it’s too late. Or sometimes suffering such as illness or diseases happen to good righteous people just because these things are reality in our fallen world where such things exists. God doesn’t cause illnesses or any suffering to teach anyone a lesson but allows them to happen for whatever reason whether to test or challenge us although I myself can’t really come up to any simple answers to this.  Now I want go back to the old question regarding embracing God and obeying his will and how this doesn’t always rewards us from never experiencing any pain and suffering.  

Despite the myth that God will always reward us with his protection from anything negative in our lives this just isn’t true or realistic and would be foolish to always think that way.  I think the real rewards are that God will never leave us throughout any suffering or turmoil in our lives.  He will be there for us through it all and if we turn to him he can help us overcome any battles in our lives whether it is the lost of spouse or relative, a divorce, losing your job, your wealth or home, becoming penniless, terminal or non-terminal illness, being a victim of brutal crime or your life is in physical danger at the moment.  As we reach out to him, he stands by us and gives us the strength to overcome any obstacles, to heal from any physical or emotional pain.  Also he doesn’t allow our hearts to be hardened or give up hope, that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we can find peace and happiness throughout all the strife even if that means sometimes healing our sufferings and give us peace is through death.  Also at other times, by allowing suffering in our lives, God can strengthen us in ways that we never experience, which could lead us use our strengths that will benefit us or others in the future as we gain new perspectives.  Of course, sometimes it is possible that God will bless us by curing any illnesses, restoring our abilities from any handicap, save us from any financial ruin and bring us luck any other ways.  Sometimes the Lord does allow miracles to happen in one’s life, however why he allows it for some and not others know one can explain.  

Rather than over analyze my he allows bad, pain and suffering into our lives, he should just be aware that in this fallen world  these things will occur and sometimes we don’t get the outcomes that we want no matter how many times we beg and pray to the Lord.  However, we should be aware of the fact that the biggest reward God can give us by having our own personal relationship with him as he becomes our strength and our guide or our rock in a time of need who will never abandon us as long was we have faith in him.