Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

08/22/2018

Harold Akridge

 

I Forgive You

 

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act,

it is a constant attitude.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

  Jesus used parables as teaching aides. The word parable literally means, “comes alongside, or compares” to something else. Jesus used parables to reveal the truth to those who wanted to know it and conceal the truth from those who were indifferent. “Jesus did not say anything to the disciples without using a parable”(Mark 4:34), “The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them’”(Matt. 13:10-11).

 

  The parable known as the prodigal son is the third part of one large parable. Beginning in Luke 15:3, Then Jesus told them this parable,” the lost sheep, the lost coin and the message from the prodigal son are all part of one parable. Jesus is speaking directly to, “…the tax collectors and the sinners who came to listen to him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’” (15:1,2 NASB). Can you hear and feel the tension as Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes speak to each other? Jesus is speaking a message of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. The Pharisees, scribes and tax collectors are deaf and blind.  In their black and white world, it’s either clean or unclean, they don’t understand the true meaning of forgiveness.  They only see Jesus eating with sinners.

 

  Our challenge as Christians is to remove our blinders and identify with the prodigal son, the father, and the older son, and not the Pharisees and scribes. Jesus is using each man as a teaching aid “to come along side, to compare” with the total message of our Heavenly Father’s unconditional love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. Visualizing and feeling the warm embrace of the father with his lost son is key to understanding what our Heavenly Father’s total, unconditional love and forgiveness looks and feels like. Jesus says, "the father saw him (the prodigal) and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” His father placed the best robe on him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, he killed the fatted calf and had a feast to celebrate(Verse 20-24). The father also gives the older son the same genuine love in one simple statement, “My son,’ you are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Verse 31). 

 

  In John 8:32 Jesus speaks, “The truth will set you free.” To totally forgive others as our Father in heaven forgives us we must first want the truth, have faith in the truth, and obey Jesus’ teachings which is the truth. Through our faith and obedience in Jesus we must give complete forgiveness to those who sin against us. In James 2:17 …faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” The action of our faith in Jesus is seen through our love, forgiveness, mercy and grace to those who need it, not deserve it. The word "forgive" simply means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt, to let go. Forgiveness is a “constant attitude.” The apostle Paul gives us comfort in how to forgive. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13). Total forgiveness can be very difficult for some people to even consider. Just thinking or saying the words “I forgive you” can be impossible. Some of us can’t demonstrate forgiveness as the father in the parable with his lost son. Jesus’ example is to have a “constant attitude” toward forgiveness.

 

  What would you do? Would you forgive the prodigal son? Who are you in this story? Are you the prodigal, the father, or the older son? Are you a rebellious son or daughter, lost and far from God? Are you a lost sinner seeking salvation and the Father’s love? Are you standing to the side, watching and wondering how the Father could ever forgive you? Are you standing to the side, not willing to forgive someone?

 

—Harold Akridge

Bella Vista church of Christ