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I have been thinking about the importance of forgiveness lately. I have been teaching a series on the Lord’s Prayer at New Creation, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico, every Monday afternoon. This last Monday we focused on the phrase, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Perhaps the most important part of the prayer since Jesus repeats the admonition, or petition, after he gives the prayer in Matthew 6:14.

There are many verses in the New Testament that are about God forgiving sins. If we confess our sins, God forgives us (1 John 1:9). We are forgiven through Jesus’ blood and the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians1:7). Repent of your wickedness that you may be forgiven (Acts 8:22). Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). But Jesus doesn’t focus on any of these aspects of forgiveness.

The thing most important to Jesus when it comes to being forgiven of our sins, debts, offenses and transgressions, is that we forgive others who have sinned against us or offended us (Mt.6:12).

Jesus tells a parable about this concept in Matthew 18:21-35. The parable of the unmerciful servant.

-Jesus tells us to forgive 77 times; never stop forgiving!

-In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said that we should pray that God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus says this parable is one aspect of the kingdom that we should practice.

-Jesus said a man owed ten thousand bags of gold, which is like a billion dollars.

-The master in this parable took pity on the servant and canceled the debt (27)

-The man who was forgiven the debt went to a fellow servant and demanded that he pay him a 100 silver coins, which is like is like $500. He couldn’t pay and was thrown into debtors prison. (28)

-The master found out and said to the servant, “You are a wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on fellow servant just as I had on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.

-In conclusion, Jesus tells his disciples that is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

That seems pretty strict and severe, but Jesus makes it plain in the Lord’s prayer that we will not be forgiven unless we forgive, and in the parable of the unmerciful servant that we will be handed over to be tortured unless we forgive.

I have an idea – Let’s forgive!

The Bible talks a lot about the importance of being blameless. Especially Psalms and Proverbs:

LORD, who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless. (Psalm 15:1-2)

The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s, care, and their inheritance will endure forever. (Psalm 37:18)

Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation. (Psalm 50:23)

No good thing does the LORD withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalm 84:11)

The LORD holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless. (Proverbs 2:7)

The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless, but is the ruin of those who do evil. (Proverbs 10:29)

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness. (Proverbs 11:5)

Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse. (Proverbs 28:6)

The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit. (Proverbs 28:18)

It seems there are a lot of benefits to living a blameless life. Good things like living on God’s holy mountain, being under the LORD’s care, salvation, protection and straight paths.

Two questions. What does it mean to be blameless and How can we be blameless?

One dictionary defines blameless as innocent of wrongdoing. Evidently, to be blameless we must never do anything wrong. It seems like an impossible dream. Never offend anyone. Never hurt anyone. Never take revenge. The list could be a long one.

How can we ever hope to accomplish blamelessness?

According to Paul in Philippians 2:14-15, the answer is to stop grumbling or arguing. He writes, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”

That doesn’t sound so hard. I thought there would be a list of do’s and don’ts a mile long that I would have to obey to be blameless. But it is just two things that seem to be everything – Do Everything Without Grumbling or Arguing. And not only will we be blameless, but we get purity thrown in as well.

It is probably a little more difficult than it sounds. As fallen, broken humans, bent toward sin, I think that our default mode in life is to start off being negative about most things, especially when things do not go our way, or we are not treated the way we think we deserve to be treated. That negativity leads to grumbling, which is generally a kind of low key, inner discomfort that, if not nipped in the bud, grows into complaining, and then bitterness and anger.

So how do we nip the negativity and grumbling in the bud and stop it before it gets out of control?

I read some positive thinking books about 35 years ago, and two phrases come to mind – Stop your stinking thinking and turn that frown upside down. At first blush those two ideas seem really simplistic when we are dealing with major downers in our life. But I think that is what Paul would have us do, in a manner of speaking. In chapter four of Philippians, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (vs. 4) We must make the choice to rejoice.

What a contrast. In chapter two he is basically saying NEVER grumble or argue. In chapter four he says ALWAYS rejoice. So when we feel the negativity bug begin to bite into our thought process, we should get out the pesticide of Rejoicing in the Lord and find something to be thankful for. And if we can somehow manage to do that, we end up blameless and pure. And we get all the benefits from God that go with it.

I think, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do it. God loves us and wants us to be happy; full of joy. By replacing grumbling and arguing with praising and adoring, we can become blameless and pure. And happy.

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