Want Forgiveness, Then Forgive

JESUS SPEAKING

          And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down and taught them.  And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they spoke, saying to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such a person should be stoned.  But what do you say?”  This they said testing him, that they might have something with which to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down and began writing on the ground with his finger, as though he did not hear.  So when they continued asking him, he stood up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”  And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman was standing in the midst.  When Jesus had stood up and saw no one but the woman, he said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8: 2 – 11.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          The Pharisees had likely heard Jesus teaching about the importance of grace and forgiveness.  In turn, they brought to him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  Under Old Testament (Mosaic) law, she was to be stoned to death.  The religious leaders had hoped he would show mercy and speak out against God’s commandments.  However, instead of condemning her, Jesus placed her fate squarely into the hands of her accusers (but not before reminding them of their own sins.)  To condemn her would be to invite God’s judgment upon themselves.  Therefore those who wished to continue receiving the Lord’s mercy had no choice but to be merciful.  One by one they threw down their stones until no one was left to condemn her.

           In the book of Ecclesiastes (Chapter 7: verse 21) we are given the reason why many struggle to show mercy.  Verse 21 reads, “Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.”  According to Solomon, forgetting our past and current sins will lead to anger and an inability to forgive.  The key to showing mercy therefore, is to be aware of our own shortcomings and to remember God’s forgiveness [Note:  There was a time when driving in traffic was rather frustrating for me.  Whenever someone would accidently cut me off, I would become angry and bitter.  One day however, I recall that someone swerved into my lane and I reacted quite differently.  I remember a feeling of peace and acceptance that I had never felt before.  The peace came from my mind; from a single thought; I recalled that I myself had many times unknowingly strayed into another lane.  I was guilty of accidentally cutting off other drivers.  Having remembered my own imperfection, I was able to accept and forgive others for being imperfect.]

          Whenever we feel bitterness, anger, and hatred toward others, it is likely that we have forgotten who we are.  We are sinners saved by grace; we are imperfect human beings; we also make mistakes.  When we remember rightly that we are inadequate and deficient, we will experience true humility.  How can we refuse to forgive others when God has forgiven us of our sins?

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire humility and seek after Your truth.  May we never forget that we are sinners saved by grace.  Remove any bitterness that rests within us, and replace it with love and understanding.  May we continually receive Your mercy, and may we in turn grant that same mercy to others.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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