The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.
– Ps 111.10
Do you fear God? Or are you so engulfed with your own concept of love of God that you think He has no standards, expectations or judgment? Do you remember that He is the Almighty who spoke all things into existence, whose wrath is the establishment and creation of Hell, and whose judgment is that which sends people there? Or do you consider that since “God is love”, He cannot uphold righteousness but allows each one to do as he pleases (1 John 4.8)?
Scripture is extremely clear that we are to fear God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111.10). The beginning! The foundation! Until you fear God, you have no foundation of wisdom; you have no wisdom. Until you have looked eternity in the face and the weight of damnation as just reward for your sin, and shuddered, been utterly broken, felt terror at the reality, you have not fully embraced the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot understand Jesus as your Savior until you realize from what you need saving!
It is the grace of God that saves us from the wrath of God.
There are a few statements in Scripture that call me regularly to serious reflection. In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the disciples and many followers on a variety of topics. He laid the foundation for the new covenant (a relationship with Him) by teaching how one honors God by having a heart the loves God and is compelled by that love to uphold the Law of God. Obedience driven by love. During this passage, Jesus gave instructions on prayer and He taught them the Lord’s Prayer. Immediately following the prayer, He said:
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
– Matt 6.14-15
If that does not terrify you, you have nerves (or a heart) of steel. Why does Jesus say that? How can Jesus say that? God is love, right? And if God is love, He has to forgive me, right? Jesus also said, in the same sermon:
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”
– Matt 7.1-2
By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. The bitterness and grudge that you hold in your heart, the standard of loyalty, respect and love which you uphold is the same by which you will be judged.
These are hairy passages. Is God’s forgiveness of our sins contingent upon our forgiveness expressed to others? No, I believe it is not. But I do believe that the one who understands the depths at which he has been forgiven cannot help but joyfully and quickly forgive anyone for any injustice performed against him. Jesus here is clearly our example when He forgave those who murdered Him – while they were in the process and act of murdering Him (Luke 23.34). If you have a heart that holds grudges or that judges apart from the standards of God as expressed in Scripture, your heart is neither aware of the judgment you deserve nor the depth of the grace which you have been (or could be) shown.
“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
– Luke 7.47
He who has been forgiven little loves little. Holds grudges. Judges harshly, and that not in accord with Scripture. Therefore, he who holds grudges, who loves little and judges harshly is not forgiven by God. They have not [yet] been forgiven by God. Our hearts of mercy are the outpouring of the mercy shown to us. We cannot and will not forgive, love and push one another on to maturity according to Scripture unless we have been forgiven. And we necessarily must understand our just deserts (damnation) to embrace the weight of the grace which has been shown to us.
How much have you been forgiven?
By what standard do you judge?
Are you angry or holding any grudges?