"For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14,15)
"Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1,2)
The most familiar passage in the entire Bible is the Lord's Prayer, found in His famous Sermon On The Mount. Even many non-Christians can recite it.
But have we considered the two verses following that passage, and have we linked those verses with the first two verses of Chapter Seven? This is heavy Scripture, mandates from God. He doesn't take into consideration our feelings, or our emotions, or whether we may be justified in our attitude. He simply states that we are to forgive, and we are not to judge, unless we're prepared to suffer the consequences.
Jesus didn't say there was no place for controversy or disagreement within His body. We are living stones who don't fit snugly together without experiencing a bit of friction. But He expects us to respond to His gospel with repentance, forgiveness, healing and restoration. He commissioned us to disciple nations and, since we are forced to function within this time capsule He has created, we can't afford to waste precious time judging or refusing to forgive.
To be forgiven, we must forgive. This means we hold no anger. We don't seek revenge, nor do we rebuke anyone for the wrong he has done to us. We don't rejoice in his misfortune. Instead, we are ready to help him. And if he repents and requests a renewal of friendship, we receive him, with no restriction.
Unless we conform to Jesus' directive for forgiveness, we disqualify ourselves to receive His forgiveness. When we show mercy to our brothers and sisters, we find mercy from God. God is a forgiving God, but it is presumptuous for us to treat lightly a subject Jesus clearly stresses. This is obviously a serious charge; one which apparently carries no options. (See Matthew 18:21-35)
God looks at us through the blood of His Son. We are to make Jesus Lord, not just our Savior. A sure way for God to see who is on the throne of our heart, is our willingness to forgive. The nature of Christ is to forgive. If He rules our heart, we automatically forgive. The nature of flesh is unforgiveness. If we still rule our heart, it is obvious to the Father. We may say we have made Jesus our Lord, but God looks at our heart. Forgiveness from God must come through His Son, there is no other way.
As to the matter of judging, Jesus says, "Don't." When we judge, we assume a position of authority. This makes it impossible to fulfill the directive to be subject to one another (Ephesians 5:21). A judge always sits higher than the one he judges. When he renders judgment, he looks down upon the accused. Likewise, when we judge others, we judge from a higher plane. That is self-exaltation, an expression of pride.
Often, we judge from a position of jealousy. Also, we must not judge the hearts of others, nor their intentions; God, alone, has the right to judge man's heart; we must not place ourselves upon His throne. Neither can we judge a man's eternal state, nor declare him to be a hypocrite; that is also beyond our limit.
If we judge others, we can expect to be judged in like manner. No mercy is shown to those who show no mercy. The worst of this is that we are judged by God, and in the same measure. What becomes of us if God is as severe in judging us as we are in judging others? (2 Corinthians 5:10)
From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. (James 3:10)
Both the problem and the answer rests in the tongue. The tongue is a mighty instrument. Neuro-surgeons discovered that the speech center in the brain has total dominion over all other nerves; therefore, what comes out of our mouths, has a direct effect upon our bodily functions. When we speak forth negatives about others, our nervous systems react in a negative way. This automatic judging mechanism is implemented into our physical systems by God.
The knowledge that our words play havoc with our health is reason enough to stop putting out a lot of negatives, whether judging or unforgiving. But the eternal reason is that unforgiveness and judging are not acceptable to God; therefore, they don't belong in the character of a disciple. If we love God, we keep His commandments, and our Lord clearly stated His position on the subject of judging and unforgiveness!
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Who is really on the throne of my heart?