Wednesday, June 22, 2016

P1 The freeing benefits of forgiveness - Freedom to put down offenses

Philemon 1:8-9 "Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus."

In today's post I wanted to deal with the refreshing benefits that come when we forgive in the manner the Lord forgave us in Jesus Christ. The source of these benefits will derive from Philemon 1:10-25. After Paul makes the appeal to Philemon to forgive his former slave Onesimus in Philemon 1:8-9, we note the following freeing benefits of forgiveness:

1. Freedom to put down offenses. Philemon 1:10-14
When we operate in unforgiveness, it is due to us at some point doing what the Bible refers to as "taking up an offense". To "take up and offense" means to respond in bitterness and anger rather than in forgiveness. Jesus warns of taking up offenses in Luke 17:1-5 "He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” 

Stumbling blocks or offense can prevent otherwise good, godly people from being effective in their Christian walk. When we harbor unforgiveness, we find ourselves incapable of receiving any further spiritual insights from God. In Mark 6:3, we find the people in Jesus' home town of Nazareth being "offended because of Him", perceiving a line having been crossed, and thus ultimately rejecting His ministry.  

In Philemon, the Apostle Paul points out that in receiving Onesimus, Philemon would operate in freedom. Forgiveness is after all rooted in the human will freely exercising itself in release from retention of bitterness. This is why Paul writes for example in Ephesians 4:31-32 to "put away from ourselves" things such as anger, malice and the like and instead "take up forgiveness". This fits in line with our definition of forgiveness - namely to "let go". So we find that when we forgive, we can put down the offenses and stumbling blocks that imprison us in bitterness of heart. 

Tomorrow we will look at a second benefit of forgiveness.

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