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Forgiveness Is An Attitude

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XToday’s Bible reading: Exodus 5:22-23, 6, 7 Matthew 18:21-35, 19:1-12; Psalms 23:1-6; Proverbs 5:22-23

Moses protests to God today after the Israelites blame him (Moses) for the extra labor imposed on them by Pharaoh. It seems that Moses is already getting frustrated and impatient with God. God has His own timeline. Although we may think that He doesn’t act soon enough, He is never late. As we read through Exodus we’ll see that God is using the entire experience to speak to the hearts of Pharaoh, the Israelites, and Moses.  When you are waiting on God do you become impatient? I sometimes do. I can tell you that there are a couple of things that I have been praying about for a while (one for over 20 years) and there have been times when I’ve felt that God is never going to answer these prayers. But I also know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Its easy to lose sight of that truth and start to whine or become impatient as Moses did. 

God reminds Moses of the promise He made to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and states that He is “well aware” of His covenant with them (Exodus 6:5 NLT). God doesn’t forget. He always remembers. Notice too that God’s comment seems to imply that Abraham, Issac, and Jacob are still alive. We are eternally living creatures. Our bodies may die. But we don’t.

I really like Exodus 6:6.-8. In this passage God says “I will” 7 times. God can’t be anymore emphatic than that. When He declares that He will do something it is as good as done. The only part that remains is the timing. We can only wait on God. Waiting builds character… at least it should considering we have no reason to doubt what we are waiting for since it is based on a promise from God.

Notice that Moses goes and tells the Israelites what God had said (“I will”…) but they were “too discouraged to listen”. That didn’t take long! I understand that their brutal treatment had become worse after Moses spoke with Pharaoh, but they were willing to give up too quickly. They didn’t have enough faith. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever seen your situation deteriorate so much without anything getting better that you become so discouraged you don’t want to listen to God? Just remember that God “will” do what He says.

When I read these passages today about the fluctuations in the moods of Moses and the Israelites I thought about how hard it is to lead people. We all want change for the better but we don’t want to have to go through anything painful to get it. We don’t want to work for it. We just want it to happen. But life doesn’t work that way. Throughout these passages God is so patient with everyone. He knows what we are. He knows how we think. His goal is to bring us to a better place in spite of ourselves. If only we (that includes me) would just drop our fears and trust Him we could get there a whole lot sooner than we normally do.

Moses performs a couple of miracles in front of Pharaoh in Exodus 7. But Pharaoh’s sorcerers were able to duplicate these feats likely with the help of Satan. Remember, Satan is under God’s control. He can’t do anything that God doesn’t let him do. God was apparently using Satan here to make it more difficult for Pharaoh to believe. Why would He do that? I think it is because God will give us what we want. If we want to put our trust in something other than God, He will let us to show us how empty and foolish it is. Sometimes we have to learn by experience not matter how many times we have been told.

Exodus 7:23 shows us just how indifferent and arrogant Pharaoh was. He “put the whole thing out of his mind” (NLT). God made no impression on Pharaoh. Sadly I see this same attitude with some many people I know.

Forgiveness is the main theme of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 today. Jesus tells Peter that essentially he should be willing to forgive someone an unlimited number of times. Jesus then tells a parable about a man who was forgiven of his entire debt but who would not forgive another person in the same way. Those of us who are born-again have had 100% of our sins forgiven. This is a priceless gift. So we should be willing to forgive others 100% of the time. Its not the number of times that we should forgive – it is the percentage of times that we should forgive. We’ve been completely forgiven. Hence, we should completely forgive.

A couple of weeks ago I received a tweet of a Martin Luther King quote:

Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.

I thought about that quote for a day or two and finally the Holy Spirit spoke to me telling me that I need to, right then and there, forgive everyone who was going to hurt me in the future. What a great idea! I can tell you that it has only been a couple of weeks but having an attitude of forgiveness has already worked wonders for me. Will you try it? Just decide today to let go of all the pain that you have yet to go through so when the pain does come an unforgiving heart won’t bring you down because of it. If you declare victory over pain now, it will be so much easier to deal with in the future.

Jesus validates the “Scriptures” in Matthew 19:4. The “Scriptures” back then were what we call the Old Testament today. Jesus quotes from them to explain marriage and divorce. If Jesus believes the Old Testament is credible and is God’s authoritative word, then it is good enough all of us.

Psalm 23 is probably the most famous Psalm in the Bible. It is told from the point of view of a sheep. Notice the calming words used in this Psalm: rest, peaceful, protect, comfort. If we ever want to understand how God views us and how He is taking care of us, just think of how a shepherd treats his sheep. The shepherd doesn’t harm them or trouble them. He lets them be, but all the while making sure they are safe and taken care of. That is how God wants to deal with us. He isn’t out to harm us. He is out to give us rest from all the empty things were are striving for and against. I once read an excellent book on this Psalm called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. I highly recommend it.

Our passage in Proverbs continues declaring the dangers of adultery and lust. Sexual sins will hold a man captive. Sex can be an addiction. Sexual sin, like any other sin, is just a lack of self-control that will separate one from God causing death (spiritual death). We need to understand the dangers of sexual sin. Although tempting and seemingly offering pleasure, the real danger is that sexual sin can become an addiction that keeps someone from ever knowing God or which draws a believer away from God.

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