Tears threaten to moisten my eyes. A heavy tug at my heart tries to weigh me down. Memories of my mother and my younger brother flood my mind…. My gaze focused on the photo posted on Facebook… He was a stranger… someone I hadn’t ever met or even heard of… and sadly would never meet either. Today(when writing this) I was seeing the photo of this young guy who had battled with blood cancer for years and finally succumbed to it. I thought of his family and his cousin whom I did know. It was hard not to feel the pang of pain they would be experiencing at this moment. They may have been ‘prepared’ for this moment…. but can one ever be really prepared?
An untimely death people would say… but as a believer I don’t think any death is ‘untimely’ as “there is a time for everything….. a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). As expected and common as deaths are, they should lead us to reflect on our lives, on our priorities.
- What would you do if today was your last day on earth?
- What would you do if today was the last day for any of those around you – whether dear to your heart or not?
Often we are so caught up with the rat race of the world establishing earthly securities. Are our lifestyles restricting us or even prohibiting us from obeying the two greatest commandments? The fact that these commandments are even named that way should make us realise (although we do often take them for granted) that ultimately our priority on earth should be nothing but this! Isn’t that what Jesus tells us, “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all this (our needs) will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Think about a loved one you lost. What is your greatest regret? Was it that you didn’t have time to spend quality time with the person or perhaps didn’t express your love maybe in words or in actions or perhaps that you took the person for granted as if that person would live forever! I know when my mother died at 57, I realised that all my plans for my life had been built on the fact that she would be around all the time – that she would help them with my children’s education (when I get around to having them obviously) just the way she ensured a solid foundation in our lives, that I could learn the recipes to her scrumptious dishes later and even going on a shopping trip to India with her etc. No, none of these materialised as I didn’t think that day was going to be the last day with her.
The biggest challenge we believers have is to get rid of bitterness and un-forgiveness. The hurt may have been caused by the other party but forgiving them is expected from us. It is not an option. In fact Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). He knows that people will sin against us….. Let’s face it… don’t we sin against others around us? Naturally! We are all human beings – with our human weaknesses. When we forgive others, God will forgive us.
The caution that should make our mind boggle follows!
“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15).
Read those words again!! God will not forgive us if we can’t forgive others of their sins. Having said that we do have a FATHER in heaven who helps us forgive through His grace. He doesn’t leave us all alone and tell us to “just do it”! No, no, no…. He isn’t the one who created the NIKE slogan! Jesus has left with us a counsellor to guide us and lead us… His Holy Spirit! Yet God doesn’t expect us to forgive immediately as it is a process… to deal with the hurts and release them from our systems. It can’t be rushed. That however doesn’t give the license to take your merry own time and procrastinate over this either.
Mind you forgiveness is NOT about being a door mat and allowing someone to trample all over you and abuse you. Forgiveness is about being able to not harbour any negative emotions towards that person. When you are freed from un-forgiveness, you will be able to pray BLESSINGS over their lives. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings anyone can receive!!
The vessel of God will experience God’s love in its own life and will allow that love to flow through too.
By the grace of God, restrained relationships can heal. If we are a part of the Body of Christ, it cannot but heal….. Forgiveness will lead to encouraging the other members of the Body of Christ to live out the roles that God has delegated to them. Un-forgiveness (of perhaps being shamed) leads to suppressing the gifts of another and thus cripples the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom minded person cannot remain for long with un-forgiveness towards another.
Forgiving one another as God has forgiven us is important for our individual health (not only spiritual but also emotional and physical as they are inter-twined) as well as for the health of the Body of Christ. As with our physical bodies, when one part is affected, ALL parts are affected and this is the Kingdom of God we are talking about…
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
As far as it depends on you, you should live at peace with everyone… If the other isn’t obeying this, God will deal with them… and sadly not forgive them their sins until they do! The Bible also tells us to stay away from those who have a form of godliness yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). Jesus tells us to treat our brothers (fellow believers) who have sinned against us, like a pagan or tax collector (as someone who doesn’t know God) if they refuse to accept their faults despite taking the measures as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20).
Let deaths of young people around us serve as reminders to live each day to the fullest such that God will be glorified as we endeavour to LOVE God with our all and to LOVE our neighbours as ourselves.
- What do you need to do at this moment to set your life straight?
- Who do you need to talk to right now?
And if you have a longing to accept Jesus as your personal Saviour – that you believe that He is THE way, the truth and the life… that your sins will be forgiven through His blood shed on the cross, and that you can now have an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father through this – well… don’t procrastinate…
Do it now, before it’s too late!