Last Day of Lessons on Forgiveness
5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
The pure in heart are people who have no guile; they are innocent and do not carry with them intrigue and manipulative desires to control other people. Now imagine the opposite, those people who are always scheming. They are always on the lookout for someone to take advantage of; they are conspiratorial and manipulating and must always carry of the burden of possibly being found out for what they really are. I wonder if they sleep well at night.
5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Peacemakers are pretty obvious, and so are their opposites. They are ultra-confrontational, looking for trouble, discord and controversy. They care nothing for other people, for they are only interested in having their way in all situations. They can never be wrong, they can’t admit a mistake and they can’t even relax without abusing someone. They make enemies where ever they go, and must always be looking over their shoulder; what a life!
5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In order to be persecuted for righteousness, one must be righteous, and also possess the courage to do what is right even if it isn’t popular. On the other side of the coin, we have those who neither do what is right nor possess the courage to stand up for it. These live in fear, tossed to and fro with the winds of popular opinion, going along with the crowd and hoping they don’t have any problems. They must worry quite a lot, for they know they do wrong, but what would others think if they didn’t go along?
5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The one persecuted for Christ is a follower of Jesus who has a bright future, and a present that is full of His power and grace, but what of his oppressors? They have no hope, they do serious wrong and await their doom. They are so filled with foreboding that they must silence the Truth, killing and injuring as they go, only increasing their guilt.
Let’s stop to think: Of the nine “blessed” people mentioned here, which one is the one that refuses to forgive others who wrong them? Of the nine not blessed ones, which would be the kind of person who forgives freely? Let’s face it, it’s hard to conceive of people that Jesus would call meek, poor in spirit, peacemakers and righteous as being people who would refuse to forgive, don’t you think?
With that in mind, which group of people carry the emotional baggage around with them through their lives? Which group sleeps at night? Which group has the higher stress levels and which has the lower? Finally, which group has the joy of life and the eternal rewards to go with it, and which has no joy and is destined for destruction?
Could it be that God expects us to love and forgive one another because that is better for our own health and peace of mind? Is it possible, even likely, that God has given these commands because He knows that the only one who will be punished or hurt by our unforgiveness is the person holding the grudge?
How do you suppose that carrying the burden of unforgiveness will help to grow and mature your relationship with Jesus Christ?
OK, these things are all obvious, and I’m sure I haven’t told you much of anything that you didn’t know already, so maybe now is the time to simply commit ourselves to forgiving those who have wronged us in the past, to go before our Lord in prayer and ask his forgiveness and for His help in taking away our rage, anger and guilt from the past. Maybe we also need to remind ourselves that when these old emotional patterns try to come back that we will repeat that they are over, done and gone and return to Jesus’ feet in prayer. Yes, maybe it’s time to really live like the new creation that we are in Christ!