“…let him be to you as a Gentiles and a Tax collector.” Matthew 18:17
I walked out of church this Sunday with a skip in my step all because of this verse.
This year has been a battle of forgiveness; learning to forgive myself and others.
Myself, well I found that slightly easier. I was able to write down all the things I needed to forgive myself for and learn to deal with the mistakes head on. I could forgive my flaws because I knew I could fix them and I suppose came to understand God’s forgiveness for me.
Forgiving others; that is another story.
This has been a year of ups and downs as many of you know and within it there has been a lot of relationships hurt and broken. I knew I needed to forgive them and well I was trying, quite a lot. However, something was missing. I was able to forgive them outwardly; I could be civil, have conversations and act like it had all blown over. Inside my thoughts were different. I would remind myself of how I had felt hurt by them and get frustrated at why they didn’t seem to face the music of their own actions.
Really, I was acting forgiveness without actually forgiving.
On Sunday, as the speaker came to his final point he read the verse “…let him be to you as a Gentiles and a Tax collector.” (Matt 18:17). A friend and I turned to each other with raised eyebrows as she said HARSH. To be honest, hearing this at first I had a slight smirk – I thought “knew it, I have the right to feel this way – I can treat them as “gentiles” and “tax collectors”.” The problem, I was thinking of the way the communities treated these people not the way Jesus treats them.
As the speaker continued he brought us to the stories of Jesus’s actions towards these people:
- Healing the daughter of a Canaanite (Matthew 15:21-28)
- Heals the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10; Matthew 8: 5-13)
- He called a Tax Collector to be his disciple (Matthew 9: 9-12)
- He asked Zacchaeus (the chief Tax Collector) if he could stay at his house. (Luke 19:1-10)
So what is the common factor in all this stories?!
HE SHOWED THEM LOVE.
I realised, I was missing love. If someone asked me had I forgiven them, easy – the answer was yes. If they asked me whether I loved them. Ha, well that is where the hesitation came. But on realising Jesus showed them love it was a light bulb moment for me and in this same moment I felt I could finally answer the question Yes I did love them. Why? Because I grasped the understanding of Jesus’s love from this one verse. I was now able to say with confidence that I really did love them and know that I didn’t feel the resentfulness or hurt. I was finally able to know that if they came to me with any problem, just general chat or to be friends I could be there without wanting to go through everything that happened. It had all truly passed all because of love.
Later I came to Colossians 3:13-15.
“…forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”
Which summed up forgiving perfectly.
This sounds like one of those cheesy mems/good quotes but you know what?! It’s true.
We need to forgive with love so we are at peace.
As christian we want to reflect Jesus right? So let’s forgive as God has forgiven.