Friday, April 28, 2023

God's Providence Session 20 - Big Enough to Forgive

The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is studying God's providence or divine providence in the lives of David and Joseph and how we can apply His providence in their lives to our lives today.

The providence of God or divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. Divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe. He is in control of the physical world. He is in control of the affairs of nations. He is in control of human destiny. He is in control of human successes and failures. He protects His people.

In Session 19 we talk about the need to have friends when we are riding out the storm. Here in Session 20 we talk about the ability of a "person after God's own heart", give unconditional forgiveness even when someone seriously offends you when you are at your lowest point. We look at how David did it and how we can apply his experience to ourselves.

For our study we will be using Great Lives: David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, by Charles R. Swindoll, and The Hand of God by Alistair Begg. To study along with us you can purchase the books by clicking the Links here or the images after the notes.

The providence of God or divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. Divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole, He is in control of the physical world, He is in control of the affairs of nations, He’s in control of human destiny, He’s in control of human successes and failures, He protects His people.  Through divine providence God accomplishes His will.

Two weeks ago, we talked about David riding out the storm caused by the consequences of his own actions as a man full o passion but not in control of his family.  Last week we talked about one of those consequences when his second son led a rebellion that forced David to leave Jerusalem.  This was another storm and in riding this one out he needed, and God sent others to encourage and help him. He sent some friends. 

Many of us have been taught that when we have Jesus, we don’t need anybody else.  That is a big lie of the enemy.  He wants you to try and battle life all by yourself.  Well God didn’t think we could do it on our own, as human beings, so in His wisdom he made us to need other people.  It started in the very beginning.

First, friends are not optional; they’re essential. There is no substitute for a friend—someone to care, to listen, to feel, to comfort, and, yes, occasionally, to reprove. True friends do that best.

Second, friends are not automatic; they must be cultivated. The Bible says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Prov. 18:24, KJV). Samuel Johnson wrote: “One should keep his friendship in a constant repair.”

Third, friends are not neutral; they impact our lives. If your friends lead good lives, they encourage you to become a better person. If your friends lead disreputable lives, they lead you down the same path—or worse. Scripture says, “Be not deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).

Fourth, friendships come in varying degrees, some of whom play more significant roles in our life than others. We have many acquaintances, some casual friends, several close friends, and a fewintimate friends.

Acquaintances are people with whom we have spasmodic contact and superficial interaction.

Casual friends are people with whom we have more contact, with whom we have common interests, and with whom we may have more specific conversations. Every once in awhile we will even seek the opinion of a person who is a casual friend, although there is still a safe distance between us.

Close friends are those people with whom we share similar life goals and with whom we discuss the hard questions. We do projects together, exercise together, socialize together, and sometimes even vacation together.

The most important level of friendship is intimate friends.  They are those few people with whom we have regular contact and a deep commitment. We are not only open and vulnerable with these people, but we also anxiously await their counsel. Intimate friends are just as free to criticize and to correct as they are to embrace and encourage, because trust and mutual understanding has been established between them.

All of us need at least one person with whom we can be open and honest; all of us need at least one person who offers us the shelter of support and encouragement and, yes, even hard truths and confrontation. 

Jesus is that intimate friend.

Being Big Enough to Forgive

Sometimes when we are going through the storm it’s an opportunity for others to really get on us to make us really feel insecure, or belittled, or guilty.  It often comes from someone that has been affected by something that we did when we were riding high.  Maybe we stepped on somebody while we were climbing the letter of success.  Now the chickens have come home to roost, or we are suffering because of something someone else did.

This happened to David when he was at an incredibly low point in his life.  His son had “run him out of town.”  We talked about that last week.  That’s in 2 Samuel 15.

What we are going to learn from David is that we can forgive under any circumstances even when someone trys to ridicule or rub our faces in the dirt when we are down.  Remember even though David has done some terrible things God still said that he was a man after His own heart. Which meant he had some qualities that God considered essential. 

Acts 13:22 NIV After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

One of those qualities is a forgiving spirit. This attribute also happens to be one of the most difficult to acquire. In fact, instead of fully forgiving someone, most folks opt for one of three different responses.

 Instead of complete forgiveness, we offer conditional forgiveness. “I will forgive you IF. . . ” or, “I will forgive you AS SOON AS. . . ”; 

The second kind of forgiveness is partial forgiveness. “I forgive you, but don’t expect me to forget.” Or “I forgive you, but just get out of my life.” Or “I’ll forgive you until that happens again.” 

The third response is delayed forgiveness. “I’ll forgive you, but just give me some time. Someday, sometime I’llfollow through, I’ll forgive you.” This is a common reaction of someone who has beendeeply hurt . . . and has nursed that hurt over the years.

And sometimes we refuse to forgive which is completely out of the will of God in fact God says if we won’t forgive then He won’t. 

Matthew 6:14‭-‬15 NIV For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

I need to talk about that a little in order to clear up some confusion.

Jesus is not teaching that our eternal destiny is based on our forgiving other people; however, it does teach that our relationship with God will be damaged if we refuse to pardon those who have offended us.

Jesus is teaching disciples how to pray and in doing so outlines how we are restored into intimacy with God whenever we have displeased Him. In fact, Jesus instructs us to build into our prayers a request for God to forgive us in the same way that we have forgiven others who have harmed us (Matthew 6:12). If there are those we have not forgiven when we ourselves pray for forgiveness, then practically speaking we are asking God not to restore a right relationship with us after we sin. To emphasize the importance of restoring broken relationships with our brothers and sisters, Jesus states that asking for God’s forgiveness for one’s own sins, all the while withholding forgiveness from someone else, is not only bizarre but hypocritical. We cannot possibly walk with God in true fellowship if we refuse to forgive others.

an unforgiving spirit is a serious sin and should be confessed to God. If we have unforgiveness in our hearts against someone else, then we are acting in a way that is not pleasing to God, making our prayers and a proper living relationship with Him difficult. God will not hear our prayers unless we also show ourselves ready to grant forgiveness.

We should forgive others because God, through Christ, has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). It is wrong for someone who has truly experienced God’s forgiveness to refuse to grant forgiveness to others.

Most of us would rather sit on a judgment seat than a mercy seat. If somebody “did us wrong,” we’d rather watch him squirm in misery than smile in relief.

Yet forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s also about us. When we are unforgiving, it has a dramatic, downward effect on our own life. First, there is an offense. And if there isn’t forgiveness after the offense, then resentment begins to build.

And if there isn’t forgiveness following that resentment, then hatred comes to take its place. Sustained hatred leads to grudges. And the grudges settle into revenge. “I’m just biding my time. And when I have my chance, I’ll get back.”

So, let’s look at David as our example of someone granting complete unconditional forgiveness.

It happens when he is leaving Jerusalem after Absolem kicks him out of town and one of Saul’s relatives sees him on the run and now’s his chance to get back at David for taking the kingdom from the tradition of the monarchy staying in the same family.  Remember there was a civil war after Saul was killed and David’s side one.  David ruled in Hebron over Judah and one of Saul’s sons, Ish-Boseth ruled the other tribes.  Read 2 Samuel 2-4.

So, David is on the run and here comes Saul’s relative, Shimei, out of nowhere.

2 Samuel 16:5‭-‬8 NIV As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”

It’s like he’s saying na na na na na!!

And just like we have David has a friend probably a good friend who doesn’t like to see someone kick  him when we’re down and while encouraging that may not be the thing to do at the time.  David had a friend say let me go take care of this guy who’s mocking you and David say nope don’t do that let God take care of it.  

2 Samuel 16:9‭-‬10 NIV Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my Lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’ ”

That’s the same thing that he said when he was encouraged to kill Saul when he had the chance.

Same guy with the advice both times.

1 Samuel 26:7‭-‬11 NIV So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him. Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

Instead of fighting back, David says, “The Lord's in it.” He never got offended. He never took it personally.  Same thing with us we take too many things personally.

So the rebellion has been delt with.  Absolom is dead and it’s safe for David and his people to come back to Jerusalem

Opps  for Shimei and for our detractors.  God has delivered us He has been with us and we have survived the storm are now victorious.

1 Corinthians 15:56‭-‬58 NIV The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Here comes Shimei with his tail between his legs begging forgiveness because he knows that David could have him killed for disiing him when he was at a low point.  

2 Samuel 19:15‭-‬20 NIV Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan. Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king and said to him, “May my Lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my Lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my Lord the king.”

Even though we may not like Shimei, let's not overlook what he did.  He owned up to his mistake and asked for forgiveness.  We need to do the same.  That’s really what we did when we asked Jesus to forgive and save us.  We were really saying that we know what we have done and we can’t fix it so please forgive us.

Even before David can reply, here comes Abishai again let me handle this guy.

2 Samuel 19:21 NIV Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the Lord’s anointed.”

David says not today.

How could David forgive Shimei and how can we forgive.

First of all, he kept his vertical focus clear. “God, You and I can handle this. 

Second, David was very much aware of his own failure. The humbled forgiven make good forgivers. We have talked about some of David's failures. 

He knew the heartache of having done wrong. . . the cleansing feeling—the relief, the sense of burden lifted—that follows repentance and forgiveness. The proud have a hard time forgiving. Those who have never recognized their own failures have a tough time tolerating, understanding, and forgiving the failure of others.

Things that help us to Forgive 

First, we must cultivate a thicker layer of skin, a buffer to take those jolts that come our way.

Second, we can try to understand where the offender is coming from. This takes a lot of grace, but, again, God is good at grace. Putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes often helps us objectify their reaction. Our Savior did that even while hanging on the cross. He looked at His accusers and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). In that one statement, we realize how our Lord viewed His enemies.  

Third, we should recall times in our own life when we needed forgiveness and then apply the same emotion. All of us, at one time or another, have done or said something dumb or extreme or offensive and have needed someone’s forgiveness.

Fourth, we need to verbalize our forgiveness. Say it, don’t just think it. Spoken words of forgiveness and graciousness are marvelously therapeutic to the offender, no matter how small or great the offense. Saying our feelings removes all doubt.

Cultivating a forgiving spirit is a very real problem that every one of us wrestles with. We need a heart of full forgiveness and grace in our family relationships, in our work and school relationships, certainly in our church relationships. We need to put feet to the hope that is within us.

Story about John D. Rockefeller, the man who built the great Standard Oil empire. Not surprisingly, Rockefeller was a man who demanded high performance from his company executives. Then, one day, one of those executives made a two-million-dollar mistake. Here was his response 

"I’ve discovered that in the past he has made us many more times the amount he lost for us today by his one mistake. His good points far outweigh this one human error. So I think we ought to forgive him, don’t you?” Like David, we need a soft heart and thick skin, we need vertical focus. . . and we need an awareness of our own failures and our own need for forgiveness.

Bible Study Audio

No comments:

Post a Comment