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We Cannot Forgive More Than We Have Been Forgiven

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” the Lord asked (Acts 9:4).  In Saul’s conversion, the Lord revealed to Saul the depths of his own depravity, which was eclipsed by the subsequent revelation of the infinite Grace of God.   Saul, now blind, realized the extent to which he had been spiritually blind.  Formerly, he held to the law of Moses. He did not understand the wonderful love and grace of God as demonstrated on the Cross of Jesus Christ. 

God blinded Paul to force him to realize that he was already blind.  God wants us all to learn this same lesson through Paul’s story.  Believers and unbelievers are both guilty of blasphemy.  Christians persecute the Lord by disobeying Him, daily contributing to the wrath against sin Jesus experienced on the cross.  Our disobedience literally hurts our Lord.  Unbelievers persecute Jesus by serving false gods.  Believers persecute Jesus by failing to obey Him.  This truth should guard believers against hypocrisy.
  
Jesus did not save believers because we are awesome (spoiler: we aren’t).  He saved Christians because He is awesome.  Christians are worthy because Jesus did the work to make us worthy: He sacrificed Himself for our sins after living a perfect life, and when He rose again He defeated death.  Our confidence should never lie in ourselves but in the One who made us, saved us, and sustains us.  He alone is the hope of the world.  He alone deserves praise, and He has guaranteed that nothing can separate those who know Him from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

Saul would later write, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (I Corinthians 13:1-3).”

When we remember God’s love, which is perfectly demonstrated on the cross, we forget about our kingdom.  We stop thinking about our selfish desires, which are the root of all conflict (James 4:1).  We put down our preferences, and we die to ourselves.  Naturally, we all want to promote our own kingdoms.  We want to be exalted and to praised, but the cross of Jesus will not allow it.  Jesus alone is King.  Jesus’ Kingdom is the true and better Kingdom.  No one deserves an invitation.  No one enters based on merit.  All who enter are dependent on the Perfect King of Kings whose grace is sufficient. 

Those who believe cannot forget God's initial revelation of our own spiritual blindness.  We cannot forget we have been forgiven and freed.  Our ambition should be to demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus Christ in every relationship and situation.  Our former depravity should give us humility.  We are not unlike those we seek to reach. No one needs the Gospel more than we do.  All humanity needs God’s grace more than food, air, water, health, or shelter.  The Gospel is the most fundamental human need. 

Brothers and sisters, we will never forgive more than we have forgiven, and we will never love as much as we are loved.  Jesus is good.  He is good all the time.  Let us remember the depths from which we have been saved, so we can demonstrate the humility of Christ described by Paul in Philippians 2:5-11:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

Lord, teach us your humility and love!

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