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January 15, 2020

All human being have an inate nature to seek revenge for injury whether physical or emotional.  We will respond immediately and without giving thought to any harm our reactions may produce.  In addition we all have things about which we are sensitive and are too quick to take offense. Unless there is some mechanism by which these natural impulses can be curbed, men could not live together.  Most certainly, Christians cannot do the work of the kingdom while harboring grievances.  Jesus instructed his disciples they must have a forgiving spirit.  
Peter asked how many times a person should be forgiven.  Jesus gave a reply that must have shocked Peter.  Under the religious law of the Jews it was eye for eye and tooth for tooth.  Jesus said we must not respond in the manner in which we have been hurt,  but to turn the other cheek. (Matt 5:39)   He also said one must forgive any number of times. (Matt 18:21-22) 
Jesus gave instructions for resolving differences.  An effort must be made to reconcile conflict one on one. (Matt 5:23-24)  The apostle Paul taught that this effort was to be done immediately - before the sun goes down, (Eph 4:28)  Unresolved conflict makes it impossible to work together in harmony in God's kingdom.  Furthermore, and this is vital, it prevents our prayers being heard. (Psalm 66:18) 
How can one have this forging spirit?  Love, godly love!  A forgiving spirit is an expression of godly love, (I Cor 13:4-7)  An old proverd says that faults are thick where love is thin.  Jesus taught that we are to forgive because we are forgiven. (Eph 4:31-32))
Forgiveness for our sins was provided before the world was spoke into being. (Matt 25:34, Romans 5:8)  This forgiveness is available to all mankind.  To gain the benefits of God's forgiveness one must believe. Confess, repent and ask. (Romans 10:9-10)  Power is available to drive our appliances, but they must be plugged in.  Likewise, forgiveness is available for our sins, but we must meets God's terms to obtain it.
Christians are required to have a forgiving spirit.  We are not to hold a grudge, but put the matter behind us, remembering how Jesus has forgiven us.   If we realize that another has been hurt by our words or deeds, we must go to that person and make amends.  Sometimes this not easy, but the joy and peace this action brings is worth humbling ourselves in this manner.  Our pride may keep us from seeking peace with our fellow man. Ask God to give you the insight to see your own faults and the grace to admit them. 
In the model prayer Jesus said, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, "  Ask yourself, do you want  Jesus to forgive you in the way you forgive others? 
Eldridge Cloessner
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church