“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
1 John 5:3-5
Faith. Our faith in Jesus Christ overcomes the world, and this is lived out in our obedience to His commands. It overcomes the world’s influence on us, the temptation to turn from the Lord.
Contemplating this, the concept of future grace comes to mind. A concept spoken of frequently by John Piper, and one that I think is vital for me in this moment. Future grace, which is guaranteed for me, because I am Christ’s and His Spirit dwells in me, giving me everything I need the moment I need it.
My current battle is forgiveness. Because I know I must forgive. Forgiveness is not optional for those who follow Christ. It is commanded. And how can we deny it to others when we ourselves have been forgiven so much, and at so great a cost – to the point of costing the life of the Holy Son of God? Our sin, my sin, against a Holy God is grave indeed, and He freely chose to forgive and love and draw me to Himself while I was still blinded and determined to reject Him and His ways.
Yes, I am forgiven much.
Yet I feel such resistance.
I desire the peace, the life, the freedom of forgiving and releasing everything to the Lord. But inside, I resist. Not only because the offender sees no wrongdoing, but also because it has been ongoing. Continued future offenses are likely unless the Lord chooses to change the heart.
This is new territory for me, honestly. This area referenced by Peter as he asked Jesus how many times we are to forgive. Offering 7 as a supposed generous number. Yet Jesus gave a number far beyond that, a number no one would likely be able to track. Because there is no limit. We are to forgive. No matter how many times offenses happen. As Christ’s, we forgive. Because God’s forgiveness toward us does not have a limit. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross covers them all. If we have trusted in and surrendered to Christ to save us, His sacrifice took every punishment. The justice due for our sin was laid on Him, because that’s where our sins – each one – were nailed.
Knowing this unlimited and continued forgiveness shown to me, how can I withhold it from another? Regardless of the other’s perception of things. I am not responsible for their view or obedience; I am responsible for mine.
Coming back to the topic of faith in future grace. Because there will still be moments in which the thought of long-term forgiveness is daunting. I can quickly get caught up in looking ahead, wondering what will happen in the future. Wondering how I will handle it. Thinking of future hurt, future struggle. Weariness and frustration and a sense of injustice easily rise.
But that “future” (only imagined at this point) isn’t where I am.
I am here, in this moment.
And in this moment, I must forgive, knowing my God not only has forgiven me, but He also sees me here and gives grace for this need.
And in the next moment, whatever it holds, God will give grace for that need as well.
Future occurrences, if they happen, will be met with future grace already planned by my wonderful, powerful God of hope, light, and peace.
Future grace will uphold me. Future grace will fill me. It will be perfectly measured out, because my God is faithful and, more importantly, He will be glorified in me.
Future grace guaranteeing the glory of God in and through my life, because that is what He does.
When we choose forgiveness, or obedience in any form, we are declaring that we believe God’s future grace will carry and sustain and satisfy and empower. Because it is His grace that enables us to obey as we determine to do so.
Choose obedience to Him. It is life and peace and freedom to your very soul. That is why the God who is love commands what He does. Walking in obedience, in light, frees us to experience the fullness of His infinite joy in a heart that is tender and softened, and to bask in the life-giving, breathtaking view of His majesty seen through eyes opened by His Spirit and no longer clouded by the darkness of sin.