May 15, 2021

Pastoral Nuggets: He Forgives

January 6-8, 2020 at 7:00 PM nightly, I will be preaching revival services at Hogansville First Baptist Church.

I mention this, not just to invite you to be with us, (and I do hope you will come; I would love to meet you!) but to tell you that unless the Lord changes my mind, the column I wrote last week, along with this column and the one I plan to write next week, will serve as precursors to the three sermons I plan to preach.

My overarching thought will be along the lines of: Three Characteristics of a Successful Christian in 2020.

As I write this article, I am 64-years-old, 6’5” tall, and weigh 200 and (none of your business) pounds.

Knowing this, would it surprise you if I told you that I can outrun the world’s fastest person in the 100-yard dash – and I can guarantee you that I can do it every time? Sure it would!

Naturally, there is one condition that I would have to insist be met for me to fulfil my brag. My opponent would have to have a 50lb weight strapped on one of his ankles, much like the old-time prisons affixed to the ankles of the prisoners working on the chain gang! Now, I’m sure you may find my illustration foolish.

You may be thinking: No world class runner would run his race with a 50lb ball and chain strapped to his ankle. And you’re right. Herein is my point. As Christians, we are engaged in the Race of Life. Why then do we attempt to run our race with “the weight of the sin of unforgiveness” strapped to our ankle?

So, as we enter 2020, as Christians, I think it would behoove us to examine our lives and shed ourselves of the weight of this sin that so easily hinders us.

I’m sure we all struggle with unforgiveness.  During my forty plus year pastoral journey, I’ve heard things like: “Pastor, you don’t know what they did to me!” … “I’ll forgive ‘em, but I won’t forget!” … “Pastor, you’ve heard of getting even?  I don’t get even; I get one up!” … “Pastor, they didn’t ask for my forgiveness!”

But hear the truth. Your decision to forgive is not based upon the offender asking. Forgiveness is your personal choice. No! It does not excuse what they did. No! It does not give them permission to do it again.

But what it does do is tell the perpetrator, and the whole world, that the Jesus living in you is bigger than what they did to you, that you will no longer be bound by the ball and chain of unforgiveness, and that you’ve made a conscious decision to rid yourself of the cancer of unforgiveness!

If you’ve ever flown commercially you know that there are strict regulations governing what you can take onboard an aircraft. I was poignantly reminded of this once when I attempted to take a bottle of Obsession for Men perfume onboard in my carryon luggage.

After politely arguing with the TSA agent, he told me very plainly that if I was going to board my plane and successfully make my flight, that my perfume wasn’t going onboard with me. I had to get rid of it before boarding. As we enter 2020, the ball and chain of unforgiveness is one of the most common weights that prevent us from being all we can be for Jesus. We must rid ourselves of it!

Years ago, evangelist Maze Jackson told about preaching revival in logging country. He told how he watched those loggers fell tress in areas so remote that the only way to get them to the sawmill was to float them down the river. He then told of how the river made a sharp narrow turn. He told how that if just one log got loose from the bundle and got wedged in that sharp narrow turn that it would prevent every log behind it from reaching its destination.

So it is with unforgiveness – it jams every blessing God is sending our way and prevents us from reaching our destination!

Finally, the Bible is crystal clear regarding unforgiveness.  Matthew 6:15(KJV) says, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Three characteristics of a successful Christian in 2020:  1) He fights. 2) He forgives. 3) Be sure to read next week’s column!

Brother Aaron  

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