To Follow Jesus
My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’
The text set for today’s reading and meditation:
Romans 8:28-39 (NIV-UK): “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“
These verses are fantastic – Romans 8:28 has been one of my favourites, ever since I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And, the very idea that we cannot be separated from the love of God, sounds almost too good to be true; but it is true and we can really live as conquerors in Christ’s love.
As Selwyn has said over the last few days – when we turn to God and genuinely (and He knows if we are) seek repentance for our terrible sins – the forgiveness we receive is absolute and eternal. That should be the end of the matter.
However, as Selwyn says in his conclusion, there are some people who experience the chains of shame, because they have no forgiven themselves. Don’t they trust the Word of God, some may ask? There are plenty of examples in Scripture where we are told that God has completely forgiven the sins of His people.
Here’s what Selwyn has to say about it: “When a sense of shame remains after having been forgiven by God one might begin to suspect the presence of pride.
What you may be saying to yourself at some deep level of your emotional life, is this: ‘How could I have ever done that? Me, of all people?’
Hear the pride? Self-hate and self-contempt is rooted in pride, so recognise what is going on and repent even of that. Now, just as you forgive others, forgive yourself. God has forgiven you.”
I agree with Selwyn, and I would add that if there is a difficulty with forgiving yourself, then it is highly likely that you also have difficulties in forgiving others – especially when it concerns deep personal hurts.
The following parable from Matthew 18:23-35; is, I think, one that is really not well understood – because there are some people who act as if it applies to other people and not themselves!
We hear the words of Jesus teaching us about forgiveness: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.
‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded. ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.” ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’”
Our sins against God are massive, well beyond our means to address; yet He offered His Son as a sacrifice to pay the full penalty, for all of us. You have heard this truth many times. So, why is it, that we can find it so hard to forgive others who have sinned against us – when the ‘debt’ is so small – compared to the debt we all owed God? Perhaps, Selwyn has the right answer – unrepentant pride?