Archive for love your enemy

Forgiveness 101

Posted in 01 : The Chief Cornerstone with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/09/2010 by timenolonger

I’m accustomed to discussing the strange and incredible, the weird and the wonderful… the lesser spoken of topics of the bible.

Basic subject matters, like forgiveness and its place in the life of believers, have been well covered by multitudes of Christians and are fairly self explanatory in the plain text of scripture. In spite of that… I’ve come to realize that the basic things aren’t always so… basic.

As much as forgiveness is one of the central themes of our faith, it has, like many other biblical subject matters, suffered from a great deal of misunderstanding.

No believer is ever likely to have adverse feelings about their own sins being forgiven by YHWH and their fellow believers. When we are on the receiving end of mercy… it’s rarely difficult to accept.

Where it becomes fraught with difficult emotion is when we must do the forgiving.

In spite of the clarity of scripture on the subject, who has not found themselves trying to weasel around the command to forgive others when the offense done to us seems so overwhelmingly wrong and hurtful… especially if the offender shows no remorse?

The reactionary internal resistance to the idea of forgiving a great wrong is so overpowering, that at once it can concoct a long list of justifications for refusal to do so.

The Justifications:

Magnitude of Offense: “Forgiveness is one thing… but who could forgive this?”

The most common counteraction to forgiving another is the sheer weight of the wrong that was done. Some wrongs that are done to us really are incredibly vile… others just feel that way. The emotional response between the two are not really very different… whether we have really suffered a major blow or the blow is simply perceived that way in relativity to a person’s own experiences, either can result in such a depth of hurt and resentment that forgiveness seems impossible.

Lack of Remorse: “They aren’t even sorry!”

We can all attest to the fact that it’s much easier to forgive a wrong when the wrongdoer is willing to apologize and admit that they are guilty of an offense. Many times that doesn’t happen… sometimes it does and yet it seems insincere. Whether right or wrong, if we perceive our offender to be without remorse for their actions it can make us feel justified in not forgiving where forgiveness has not been requested, or not been requested to our satisfaction.

Repeat Offender: “Shame me once… shame on you… shame me twice… shame on me.”

Sometimes we have those people in our lives that we try very hard to get along with… forgive them their faults on numerous occasions and yet they continue to disappoint us. There comes a point when we want to ask ourselves how long we’re willing to be a “door mat”. Patience becomes exhausted and we simply want to give up on the individual.

Semantics: “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.”

Unless an individual is suffering from some manner of genuine cognitive disorder, forgetting is not realistically an option. What we really mean when we contrive this justification is that we really don’t want to forgive even though we’re well aware of our duty to do so. This usually comes at a point of internal conflict between the conviction to do what is right and the emotional resistance against it.

What the Bible has to Say:

As mentioned earlier… the Bible is as clear as crystal on the matter of forgiveness… it is perhaps one of those rare biblical topics that are so basically defined in a point-blank way that little if any doctrinal debate has ever taken hold of it.

Even though there’s not much getting around the point, nor any wiggle room for interpretation, anyone who has had to do some forgiving they don’t want to do knows how quickly the recall of this subject can be suddenly omitted from one’s thoughts.

The power of the verses dealing with our forgiveness of others is such that it backs us right up against the wall of conviction immediately. There’s no room to turn around and run, no quarter given to fight back… and it’s incredibly uncomfortable to try. It’s also the very remedy we need when we start justifying a non forgiving attitude. We require that stinging discomfort of conscience in the face of a truth we don’t like.

Scripture has an answer to every justification we can come up with. When the struggle is with the magnitude of an offense… we need only to compare what has been done to ourselves to what we have each been responsible for that resulted in the crucifixion of our Savior.

Have any of us ever hurt like He did on the cross? Yet we are freely offered His forgiveness.

“Therefore, as chosen of Yahuwah, sacred and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another. If anyone has a complaint against another, even as the Anointed forgave you, so you also must do.”
– Colossians 3:12,13

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as Yahuwah in the Anointed forgave you.”
– Ephesians 4:32

And if there is a lack of remorse by our offenders…

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in the sky forgive your trespasses.”
– Mark 11:25,26

“Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you and from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”
– Luke 6: 28-31

“Then Yahushua said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
– Luke 23:34

And if we deal with a repeat offender….

“Then Keph came to Him and said, “Master, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Yahushua said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
– Matthew 18:21,22

“And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
– Luke 17:4

And if we are tempted to hold a grudge anyway…

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your celestial Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
– Matthew 6: 14,15

“Judge not and you shall not be judged. Condemn not and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
– Luke 6:37

Since there is no question that believers need to forgive… no matter what… the only question left is “How?”.

Forgiveness can at times seem virtually impossible. The very sight or mention of someone who has done great personal offense can elicit extreme feelings of repulsion and anger and pain. How does one fight through such intense feelings to get to a place where forgiveness is possible? They don’t…

The command to forgive is a command to make a decision and act on it… it is not a command to tame our own wild emotions until we feel only good things towards our offenders.

The forgiveness that we enjoy from our Creator is not defined by His abstract warm feelings towards us… we would never benefit from that in a practical way.

We benefit through His act of redeeming us according to that forgiveness, and through the blessings He imparts on us as forgiven individuals.

In the same manner our good feelings towards our offenders… even if they are possible… are useless to them in any practical way. Our act of forgiveness must extend the same open hand of generosity that we receive from our Creator.

We have a duty to treat them with the same respect we want to be treated with, the same charity we want to receive, and the same concern for their well being that we would like extended to us.

It may seem strange or insincere to take those benevolent actions without “feeling it”… but in their proper place, feelings will conform to fit our obedience to YHWH… if the act of obedience is never carried out, our feelings will surely never prompt us to it.

Who Benefits by Forgiveness?

It is often argued by Christians that the act of forgiveness benefits the one forgiving most by way of releasing anger, resentment and hostility… an “unburdening” effect and that is presented as the motivation for believers to forgive.

If you’ve ever tried to live by that philosophy, though, you’ll find it very disappointing. You will not magically shed your emotions of anger and resentment as you one day make some internal statement to yourself like “I forgive this person.”.

Nor is an act of forgiveness ever done genuinely which is done simply to benefit self. Our forgiveness obtained through Messiah benefits Us… and our forgiveness of others should benefit Them.

We benefit in forgiving by doing what is obedient to YHWH, which is always beneficial, not because we have relieved ourselves of stressful emotion. Once we obey… then YHWH is able to begin to heal those stressful emotions so long as we continue in obedience.

Should it all go back to the way it was?

One of the trickiest issues in forgiveness is knowing whether or not to reinstate an offender to their previous position in one’s life. If an act of forgiving involves demonstrated good will toward the offender, does that automatically mean they should be offered the same trust they once might have freely been given?

Forgiveness does not equate with trust, and the decision to return someone who has wronged us to a former trusted position can depend greatly on what position they held in our lives, and what the manner of their wrong was.

A parent should naturally forgive their child of disobedience when they sneak out of the house and take the car for a spin… but they should not automatically trust that child to be left with the car keys after that action.

An unfaithful spouse should be forgiven of their crimes and yet that does not mean the faithful spouse is obligated to continue in a marriage that has been compromised.

An employee who gets drunk on the job should be forgiven of their bad decision by their boss… and yet that employer is within his rights to not trust his worker to continue in his employment.

What should be considered in a decision to return someone to a former position of trust is a consideration of what is practical versus what is purely emotional (e.g. Am I denying that trust out of spite, or because there is a serious matter at stake if the person is not trustworthy in the future?)… as well as consideration of a repentant attitude… a sincerely repentant person is less likely to repeat their offense if reinstated to a position of trust.

A Second Chance…

We’ve all been given a second chance… for that matter a third and fourth… etc. When one who has wronged us genuinely seeks a second chance to prove their trustworthiness to us, we should all consider how many chances we have been afforded by our heavenly Father.

We’ve all been grateful for those second chances, and so in an effort to do for others what we would want for ourselves, those requests should be honored if at all possible in a practical sense. This might take time and be extended to the individual one small step of trust at a time… but trust can be rebuilt.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

– Matthew 5:7

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Remembering the Golden Rule in Desperate Times

Posted in 01 : The Chief Cornerstone with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/26/2010 by timenolonger

We have desperate times ahead. I don’t normally like to make sure statements on the future… but barring divine intervention… I don’t see any possible way that this nation will avoid some severely desperate times soon.

In the next 12 months we might witness a complete breakdown of society in the US… we might well see martial law, the detention of millions of innocent civilians, explosions, fire, toxic rain and famine.

These are the sorts of conditions we’ve seen depicted in entertainment which disintegrate into a dog-eat-dog societal mentality.

Every man for himself… we can easily imagine the worst mankind has to offer being brought out of their natures in times of fear and need.

This is precisely the reaction to adversity our enemy would enjoy witnessing in the hapless population of the “land of the Free and the home of the Brave”.

The enemy doesn’t want to see people moved in the spirit of YHWH to fearlessly reach out to their fellow humanity and do for one another what each individual wants done for himself.

FEMA HERE : Colorized LIFE Image

It’s time to put fear away, people of Yahushua.

This might seem like a strange challenge to make on the heels of a statement about how disastrous a future we face, but truly it isn’t.

It’s not news that death follows a mortal life, or that we have been told that there will be a severe trial of refinement and division in the earth as the last days descend, but this was only ever a temporary world anyway.

What do we look for if not the Kingdom of our Savior, and what do we prepare for if not eternity?

So when things begin to shake your world… when the place you once recognized as a safe nation in which to live becomes a wild and ravenous landscape of tribulation, understand that you have a Creator capable of guiding your steps, capable of counting the sparrows who fall, and capable of taking care of you, and if you are someone who is mature in your walk with Him and you are able to lay aside fear, be then an agent of His mercy.

Disaster Aftermath Poverty : Colorized LIFE Image

If you find yourself with “just enough food” in a time of want, don’t fail to remember that your Savior filled the bellies of thousands with a few loaves of bread and a few fish.

If you find yourself with “just enough water”… remember that He told us in the end He will say to His redeemed “you saw me thirsty and gave me a drink… inasmuch as you gave it to one of these least of my brethren, you gave it to me.”

If you find yourself blessed with shelter that others lack, don’t forget to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

“And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”

– Matthew 5:41,42

These words of our savior, we all know them… if we are committed to Him, we try to live them, but it is in the heat of adversity in which the real metal of the resolve to do right is tested.

Understand that we will all be faced with opportunities to lay aside our own needs in order to serve others, and in those times it is easy to let fear be the pilot that drives you… you might tell yourself you have responsibility to children, to wives, to parents… and you do, but who are all those who are your family?

“Then one said to Him, “Look! Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”

But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”

And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!

For whoever does the will of My Father in the sky is My brother and sister and mother.””

– Matthew 12:47-50

If we, indeed, are set to see the evacuation of millions of people along the Gulf Coast… how will you reach out to those who will be bereft of a home, or maybe even unable to find transportation out of the effected areas?

We can all sit back and watch it happe,n and point fingers at the evil men who brought tyranny and martial law to their homes, who relocated them to facilities which are no better than prisons, who murder and rape and torture without conscience – and feel good that we don’t number among one of those tools of the NWO agenda… but what good is that?

If you are a resident in the Gulf Coast area with the means and the will to spare yourself the trouble before it comes, I hope you will consider giving shelter and aid and transportation to someone who has no means to do these things for themselves.

Likewise, I hope that all believers across the country who live in areas which are (so far) safe from harm, will extend themselves to give shelter and aid to those who might flee the area.

Help Others

It could be you someday in a desperate situation with seemingly no where to go and no one to turn to, and then you will find yourself at the mercy of those who have what you do not.

Many might be inclined to feel it’s crazy to put what is their own at risk to strangers, but I am inclined to trust that if one does what is right in His eyes, nothing can ultimately go wrong.

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading?”

So he answered and said, “You shall love Yahuwah your ‘Eloah with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly. Do this and you will live.”

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Yahushua, “And who is my neighbor?”

Then Yahushua answered and said, “A certain man went down from Yeruwshalaim to Yericho and fell among thieves who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Now by chance a certain temple official came down that road and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.

Likewise a Lewiy when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Shomerowniy as he journeyed came where he was.

And when he saw him, he had compassion.

So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

On the next day when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Yahushua said to him, “Go and do likewise.””

– Luke 10:25-37

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”.

– Matthew 7:12

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Two Sons

Posted in 01 : The Chief Cornerstone with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/22/2010 by timenolonger

Yahushua sat down to dinner with sinners and tax collectors.

The self-righteous of the day protested, but of course we know He came for just such a thing, to offer up a way of healing and a way of reconciliation – not for those who felt they ‘had it all together’, but for those who were, and knew they were, the worst of the lot and in need of some remedy.

Some stood ready to execute the full penalty of the Law on a woman who had been immersed in sexual sin… but Yahushua reminded those willing to dole out justice without mercy that they too had sins, and instead of stoning her, He offered her hope of forgiveness.

Ninevah would have been consumed in the wrath of YHWH. but for their repentance and His mercy, which greatly displeased Jonah, the messenger of their doom.

Repeatedly we see the demonstration of meaning in the words “I will have mercy and not sacrifice”. Repeatedly He shows that it is His mission to restore the un-restorable, to heal the hopelessly broken and to even turn back the irreversible sting of death, usually to the indignation and confounding of individuals who see themselves as much more worthy of His notice.

Unfortunately people do not often think the way He thinks or value what He values, and oftentimes it is believers who become the least willing to sit with the tax collectors or pardon the adulteress, or rejoice over the repentance of those who have been guilty of great wrongs.

What I read of His ability to have love for His creation is really something that goes beyond almost all comprehension. He says, of all things… to love your enemies.

That’s not easy to do, let’s not fool ourselves… it is one thing to say “i love everyone”, but it’s a completely different concept put into action. Not just an idea or a feeling, ‘loving an enemy’ means actively participating in good will towards them… praying for them, earnestly desiring their salvation and well being.

How easy is it to visit murderers on death row and try to bring them, not just a sermon, but an obvious display of compassion and concern? Now imagine trying to visit one in prison who had murdered your own child and show them compassion and concern.

We must be careful where we begin to justify withholding mercy, because as long as this age endures, He has set no limitations upon the degree of evil He is willing to forgive… or the degree of sinner He is willing to love.

What degree of sinner would be justified in His sight if there was a limit?

He is the standard of perfection for which we are to strive… we won’t be perfect in this age of the reign of sin, but all the same, we have no excuse for not making it our goal.

If our enemies are to be loved by us, and His enemies are loved by Him, being the standard of that perfect mercy…there must be no fallen being which is not included in that command, up to and including Satan.

If it comes as a horrific shock to hear that any believer should have “love” for the devil – then that shock comes from a place of having heard the attitude set forth throughout churches and by pastors of justified malice towards, at least, That enemy… being the most wicked enemy anyone has.

The attitude of malice towards that greatest of enemies is not present in scripture.

We are certainly warned to not invite him into our lives… to not model ourselves after him, to not take part in his temptations or fall under his control – but we are never commanded to despise him. Even Michael knew better than to use venomous words against him.

I do not predict that the Devil will ever repent… but that is a complete guess on my part based on the best evidence I have, and I don’t have all the evidence there is to have.

I do know that He created an angel, who later became Satan, and if He cares for sparrows, He has certainly cared for him. Even Satan is worth my hopes that he should find repentance, however small that possibility is.

As for fallen angels in general, I hold to a belief of the possibility of their repentance that does not go down well with most believers.

I’ve come up against a multitude of arguments persuading against it, and yet have never encountered an argument from a scriptural source which could utterly negate the possibility.

At best, there is the opinion that it’s just not even discussed in scripture, and while that’s true in the sense of a direct address of the subject… I’ve at least found better evidence of it addressed in parable and theme than any similar evidence to the contrary.

A really interesting section of Luke draws my attention on the matter… well known as the parable of the prodigal son:

“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against the sky and before you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”‘

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against the sky and in your sight and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you. I never transgressed your commandment at any time and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'”
– Luke 15:11-32

We might be inclined to think of the younger and older sons in terms of chronology of origin, perhaps putting angels in the place of the older sibling… but this is a parable concerning a right standing relationship to the Father – and there’s no sense speculating that holy angels are irritable towards humanity’s repentance, as obviously it states that there is great rejoicing by them when one sinner repents.

Other than holy angels, all other beings are in need of reconciliation to obtain a right standing with Him, and that reconciliation was no doubt offered first and foremost to mankind.

Who could have been said to have taken a long journey into a “foreign country”, carrying with them the inheritance of the Father which fell to them and squandering it on sinful living?

Fallen angels have done this, and maybe it most starkly resembles the circumstances surrounding the Watchers’ rebellion. Now far removed from their native habitation, fallen angels exist as degraded, filthy and desperate sinners… figuratively wallowing in the pig pen, and spiritually starving for lack of the relationship to their Father in which they were created to thrive.

If one should “come to their senses” and repent, it is not difficult to see how the expectation of their best hope might be to return to their Father, not with the status of a son, but a hired servant.

The older sibling can then be likened to mankind… for whom the promise of a Savior has been established since the first man fell.

The repentance of a fallen angel would work on a different dynamic than a human… it would be comparable to the faith of the Canaanite woman who begged Yahushua to free her daughter from demonic possession:

“And behold, a woman of Kena’an came from that region and cried out to Him saying, “Have mercy on me, O Master, Son of Dawiyd! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Yisra’el.”

Then she came and worshiped Him saying “Master, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Master, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Yahushua answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
– Matthew 15: 22-28

Indeed… the food of the table belongs to the children, yet the dogs are not denied the crumbs.

Mercy

Only taking into account the reception that the prospect of angelic redemption receives in the Christian community, I am starkly reminded of that older sibling’s smug dismissal of the idea that this “unworthy” brother of his should, not only be welcomed back to the household, but welcomed back with great relief and much rejoicing by his Father.

Unfortunately, just like that older son, many allow their status as redeemed to be a point of personal pride to them. It is hard within the sin nature to divorce oneself from that urge of ego to take credit for one’s own salvation – the very same problem which begets believers who lean towards a “salvation by works” error.

If then, knowing the truth… that not one of us are worthy of the mercy He shows us, that there is nothing anyone could have done for themselves or for Him by their own power to acquire redemption… how differently ought we to regard the lost – of any persuasion – knowing that if not for His grace, we ourselves would be no better off?

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