For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

For me it’s not as hard to forgive a single event offense.  It happened once,  it’s bad, it’s done.  Granted this depends on the severity of the offense.  I’m sure right now in Sutherland Springs, TX or Las Vegas, NV that forgiveness is something that will be a journey.  But for me, the harder things to forgive are the ongoing offenses.  The ones where their is no repentance and the situation continues to be hurtful and harmful.  This could be a wife whose husband denegrates her and the children with his words on a regular basis, or the wife who uses her husband and belittles her husband on a regular basis.  Or anything for that matter.   Like an addiction to gambling, alcohol, shopping or video games.  I find ongoing sins much harder to forgive.

Currently I am in one of those situations.  And this wrong behavior does not just have devastating consequences for myself, but for someone I love.  I’ve been struggling with anger (just being real here).   In the last few days the Lord has been telling me that I’m becoming like a pickle that is being brined with bitterness and mirth and guile.

Brining in the Bad

Then there is this Scripture:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The truth of the matter is that I too have ongoing sins that hurt the Lord and others that I’m not aware about or don’t believe that need changed.  And God forgives those ongoing sins too.  It’s not that he doesn’t call me to repent, he does.  But holiness is a journey throughout life.  The Lord grows us into himself not all at once but over the years.  So if God can have grace for me, what about grace for others?

It’s that I see the devastation ahead and it bothers me.  A lot.  But do I not believe God can miraculous intervene, even when it seems there is no way?  Is not the Christian life a miraculous life built on faith?  And has not God performed for me some of the most extraordinary miracles in the last two years that I have ever seen?

So I’m entering into the process of surrender.  I’m still angry at this obstinance and stubbornness of one individual whose selfishness has such terrible consequences.  But if I continue to be angry, the pickle will only sour and be ruined.  But with surrender, there is room for God to work.

A Scary Sin

It’s interesting we spend so much time on talking about the unforgivable sin in Mk 3:28-30, but miss this obvious one.  A much more potent one.  So potent that one of my friends who obeys the Scripture more than anyone I know refuses to pray v. 12 in the Lord’s prayer (“forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”).   The reason is because he says, “I know how I forgive others and it’s scary to me that I’m praying God will forgive me based on my level of forgiveness to others.”  He is rightfully scared.

  1.  It’s the only part of the Lord’s prayer that Matthew expounds upon (Mt 6:12)
  2.  The Scripture is clear, forgive and forgiveness will flow to you.  Don’t forgive and the Lord won’t forgive you (Mt 6:14-15)
  3.  Lack of forgiveness can mean suffering torment (Mt 18:21-35)

The important thing to remember is that we serve a big God who is looking to love and forgive.  He delights to show mercy.  He just asks that we reciprocate that mercy.  It is a holy sobriety with which we must deal with offense.

Conclusion

Among the Tai people of Papua New Guinea, a small mountain tribe, there is a sin in their village that is the top sin of all.  The very worst that can ever be done.  Murder?  Nope.  Adultery?  Not at all.  Gossip?  Getting there.  It’s this:

Unforgiveness

And in the sin hierarchy that every nation prioritizes differently, this tribe is the one who I think that has it right.