Pastor David’s Devotional
April 24, 2021
“Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.”
This passage of scripture comes from Jesus “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew chapters 5-7. Jesus sermon gives us glimpses into life in the Kingdom of God. As Christians, we are called to Kingdom living, but it is not easy: “The gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.” This week, my devotionals will focus on qualities of Kingdom living that Jesus talks about in the “Sermon on the Mount.” These qualities of Christian living are not easy, but they are important! And, to the extent that we are faithful in living in these ways, how we live becomes our testimony to life in the Kingdom. We begin with forgiveness.
In Matthew 6: 9-13 Jesus teaches us what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” In verse 12, Jesus teaches us to pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Of course, there is much more to the prayer than simply asking for forgiveness! But, even though there is much more to the prayer than forgiveness, the only verse he expounds upon after the prayer is verse 12. He felt a need to explain verse 12, and I suspect he explained it because forgiving others is not always easy; remember the road is difficult.
In verse 14 Jesus explains verse 12 (forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us) by saying “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.” This sounds like God’s forgiveness is offered conditionally—in order to be forgiven by God, we must forgive others first. And, if Jesus were talking about the ways of the world, that might be exactly what it means—you have to earn forgiveness. But, Jesus is not talking about the ways of the world, he is talking about Kingdom living. And, Kingdom living is different from worldly living. The Kingdom of God is a place of forgiveness. Forgiveness is sort of like the air that we breathe in the Kingdom; it is always available and offered freely. We are forgiven. Period.
So, why did Jesus say that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us? I can remember years ago stopping at “Four Corners” on a trip Geri and I were talking to Colorado. We did the tourist thing—you know, putting one hand in Arizona and one hand in New Mexico, while putting one foot in Utah and one foot in Colorado. You get the picture. It wasn’t particularly difficult to do, but I only stayed in that position long enough for Geri to take a picture. And, I couldn’t have stayed in that position too long. It would have been only a matter of time before my arms or back or legs gave out.
Picture trying to live with one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the world. The two aren’t that close to each other, so picture having to stretch, almost like doing the splits. Obviously, there is only so long you can stay in that position before something gives. And, when something gives, you will have to decide where you will stand. Do you take your stand in the Kingdom or in the world? In Matthew 6:14, Jesus is letting us know what it means to take a stand in the Kingdom. When he says that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us, he is saying that we can’t have Kingdom benefits without Kingdom responsibility, we can’t live with one foot in the Kingdom and one foot in the world. At some point we have to decide where we will stand. And, if we choose to stand in the Kingdom, we are choosing the way of forgiveness, both receiving forgiveness and offering forgiveness. Jesus is inviting us to take our stand in the Kingdom, to take a stand with our God who forgives. Kingdom living is a life of forgiving others who have sinned against us. Of course, that is not easy. That is why Jesus said “the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it. “ It is not easy. But, the good news is that we have help. In Kingdom living, God provides grace sufficient for every need. We have help. Thank you God!
God bless you, and stay well.