Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Forgive and release: Luke 6:37

Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NIV) Forgiveness is something many of us struggle with. It is harder to forgive, and it is harder to keep forgiving. We often hear people say that we must “forgive and forget.” However, while it is true that God both forgives and forgets, when it comes to us forgiving, scripturally, forgetting plays only a minor role if any role at all. What is interesting in this scripture is that the word translated here as “forgive” is a Greek word that means to “release.” The key aspect of our forgiveness is the releasing of the offending party from any debt they may owe us due to their offense against us. Paul, writing of love, puts it this way, “it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor 13:5) While we may not be able to forget the offense, we can release the one who offended us from the condemnation and judgment of the offense. True forgiveness happens, not when we forgive, but when we forgive and release.

This scripture causes me to ask myself, “Is there anything I am holding against anyone else?” If so, it is only in forgiving and releasing that I myself will be forgiven and released by God.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

All this has been given to me: Luke 4:6

After Jesus was baptized, he was led into the desert where he fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights. During that time, the Devil tempted him. In one of his temptations, the Devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the nations of the Earth. He said to Jesus, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6) What is interesting in this verse is the Greek word translated here as “has been handed over.” This verb means “to hand over” and can be used both positively and negatively. For example, Paul uses a play on this word when he writes to the Corinthians, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered [handed over] to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed [handed over] took bread.” (1 Cor 11:23) Here we find this same Greek word used both positively, in handing over this teaching to the Corinthians, and negatively, in Jesus being handed over to the Jews.

With this understanding of this Greek word, we must ask ourselves, “Who was it who handed over, or betrayed, the kingdoms of this world into the hands of the Devil?” One might suggest that it was the Lord who handed them over as part of his judgment against us due to our sins. However, I believe that it was not the Lord who handed them over to the Devil, but rather, it was us. By our own sinfulness, our insistence on following our own way, and by rejecting the morality of God, we have abdicated our place in this world and have handed over our lives and our nations to the Devil. We are the ones who have betrayed our calling and authority to the Devil, and now we are reaping the fruit of his lordship over us and our nations. If I am correct in my understanding of this scripture, then it is incumbent on us to reclaim what we have formerly handed over to the Devil, and we do this by returning to the Lord and his commandments. God said, if “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14) It is only by returning to the Lord that we can reclaim that which we have lost to the Devil.

Understanding this scripture in this way causes me to ask myself, “What have I handed over to the Devil, and how can I get it back?” It may not be something as large as a nation, but what I have given away I can reclaim by confessing my sin and returning to the Lord.