Thursday, January 12, 2012

Portraits of Forgiveness (Part 2)

 I see three different types of hearts in the story of Luke 15 and I think it is instructive to look at each of them. As we do it is important for us to realize that while this is a beautiful picture of a lost sinner being restore back to God, this young man never stop being a son of his father. So these three a hearts that we observe could very well be the heart of a believer. Every Christian, at times need to have a repentant heart, a forgiving heart and not ever have an unforgiving heart. Let's look at each of these.

A Repentant Heart: The prodigal son demonstrated a repentant heart that was broken when he came to his senses and decided to return home to his father. The word "repentance" means "to change one's mind". It means to agree with God and make a "U-Turn" in our life back to Him. Repentance is a brokenness and change of life's direction marked by:
  • Hunger for Restoration. He longed for something more than what he had available to him in his sin. He longed to go home (Luke 15:16). When our hearts our not right with the Lord, for what ever reason the Spirit of God will work with in us convicting us of sin and provoke within us a hunger to be right with God and restored to anyone we might be at odds with. And we need both relationships right, vertically with our Father and horizontally with our brethren.
  • Humble Confession. He willingly acknowledge his selfishness violation of love, first toward God and then toward others (v 18-19). We are reminded in 1 John 1:9 of the need for Christians to keep short accounts of our sin with God, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." John goes on to challenge us to live constant with our position in the family of God. "He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness until now" and again " he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1 John 2:9, 11). If we hold something, anything, against another brother or sister it is like being in darkness, that gray cloud can become a dark cloud and then has the potential of becoming a black storm cloud in our Christian life! And that storm cloud can cause a turbulent storm in your own life and in the life of every one around you. James 5:16 exhorts us to "Confess our trespasses to one another, and pray for one another."
  • Plea for Mercy. He recognized that he deserved nothing and pleaded for mercy, to serve as a slave, without a demand for restoration to his previous position in the family (v21). This servant attitude is exactly what the Lord Jesus did as we read in Philippians 2:5-8. If my Lord and Savior could forgive those who nailed Him to the cross, if He could forgive me for all my sins, what right do I have to hold something against another believer in God's family?

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