By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
There is a distinct difference between “fruits of repentance” and “forgiveness”. The confusion appears to be the result of not understanding who will benefit from each. Many people believe forgiving someone is a benefit to the person who is forgiven. That mindset will help explain why people believe a person needs to do “something” before they can be forgiven. Some will say that “something“ can be as small as an apology, while others may feel a remorseful person should attempt to nullify each wrong they committed against the person.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV): For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
It is clear in scripture we should immediately forgive others of any wrong we have endured. We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to apologize to us before we forgive them. The reason is also clear; an unforgiving soul is not a soul that is in fellowship with God. Our issue must be resolved for us to partake in the Lord’s Table (Matthew 5:24) and for us to pray to our Father. Some will go days, weeks, months, or even years before they forgive another; but we should not go a moment without the ability to communicate with God.
Mark 11:25 (NKJV): And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Fruits of repentance are something that happens over time and are separate from our ability to forgive others. The outpouring of love will prick the person who needs to be forgiven to change their life for the better. It is no different than our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus had already forgiven us when He came to the world as a human being and died in our place. We showed no fruits of repentance to encourage Jesus Christ to die for the remission of our sins.
Romans 5:8 (NIV): But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Similar to the people who actually placed Jesus on the cross, we put Jesus on the cross with our sins. Also comparable is the way Christ forgave the people who crucified him without them apologizing or showing sorrow for their actions. It is true that we need to be baptized for the remission of sins to be saved; but does the consequence of our action/inaction reflect on whether God forgave us? Consider someone guilty of murder being required to serve a mandatory sentence of 20 years. There is nothing that the victim’s family can do to shorten the criminal’s sentence; but they can still forgive them of all consequences they can control. They can pray for the person and write encouraging messages to them. They can feel sorrow (instead of joy) for the person who is about to lose their freedom. Sin separates us from God and the wages of sin are death, so the mandatory sentence is the mandatory sentence. That is why we must put to death our old body in the watery grave of baptism - so we can live again with our new body in Christ. But the fact that we have an outlet only proves God has already forgiven you.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
We are going to find ourselves in situations where we believe we are submitting to someone who knows less than us. This is not easy by any means and that is part of the reason we are expected to esteem others higher than ourselves on a regular basis. There are no caveats, carve outs or exclusions; we are to esteem everyone who is not us, greater than ourselves.
Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV): Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
This is one of the greatest traits of children. To their benefit, children spend their childhood life submitting to another’s oversight. If they participate in sports, they have coaches; if they attend a school, they have teachers; they also have parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
1 Peter 5:5 (NIV): In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
The reason Christ finds it important for us to esteem others over and beyond ourselves… is because they are. If we remain humble and open to learning, everyone will be able to teach us something. For example, we can learn about the beauty of the Old Testament from Jews, the importance of sharing the word of God from Jehovah Witnesses, and the value of tradition from Catholics. We can learn humility from children, repentance from a new born Christian, and the wisdom of the Bible from an Elder. When we look at anyone and esteem them lesser than ourselves, we must be careful to remember we have all fallen. Jehovah’s esteem for us is so great that He sent His only begotten son to die for us while we were still sinners. Jesus Christ esteemed us so extensively that He lived the lowly life of a human and was tortured and crucified for our sins. So how can we not look at believers and unbelievers greater than ourselves? Is it possible for us to believe the differences between us and another person are greater than the differences between us and God?
Deuteronomy 32:4 (NKJV): He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.
Love and humility is the recipe for us to cherish and honor others above ourselves. If we are missing either, the task will be too difficult to accomplish.
Romans 12:10 (NIV): Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
In life, we do not have much of a say when it comes to results.
Through effort we can increase our probability of success, but we
ultimately do not have any way to guarantee the result that we want.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 (NIV): I have seen something else under the sun: The
race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food
come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
A content person may research the education and experience needed for a particular job, they may attend the highest rated program, and they may even be willing to move to a particular city. These actions only increase the likelihood they obtain that job, but content people are okay with whatever the results are. Content people understand that complaining about things not going their way, even if they believe they “deserve it”, is an insult to God.
Exodus 16:8 (ESV): And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
A content person’s faith is so massive; they are willing to trust in God through all hardships. They have an unshakeable resolve to endure whatever life throws their way for the faith.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV): For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
A content person understands their intellect, skills, and opportunity to succeed are all signs of God’s favor in their life.
James 1:17 (NKJV): Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
If we were given an infinite number of chances to plan our life, we would fail every time. We would always want to change something because we are continually learning. God’s plan is the best plan because God’s wisdom is infinite. God does not have a beginning or an end; He was always there and will always be.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As Christians, we understand the cost of sin to be death. As people who live in the world, we understand that all sin is not seen as equal. The world will say that nobody is perfect to justify the complacent response to sins that “everyone” commits. One of the more downplayed sins of the day is the sin of gossiping. When asked which is worse: gossiping or murder; gossiping or adultery; gossiping or stealing – the answer rolls off the tongue in each case. Gossiping can be seen as a small thing, but in actuality its consequences are just as great. Instead of which is worse, what if the question were...
Which sin will erode trust among peers?
Proverbs 11:13 (ESV): Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
Which sin could make your religion worthless?
James 1:26 (ESV): If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
Which sin does God consider wasting time?
II Thessalonians 3:11-12(ESV): For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Which sin will ruin friendships?
Proverbs 16:28 (ESV): A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Gossiping is saying something that we should not be saying (1 Timothy 5:13). We often find gossiping comes when we believe someone mistreated us, or someone is getting away with something. We feel compelled to take matters into our own hands, but the Bible says vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19). We have to trust Him when He says all things done in darkness will come to light (Luke 8:17). We do not get a license to sin because we believe someone mistreated us. We do not have the ability to categorize sins as small or large. We are commanded not to let corrupting talk come out of our mouth and there is no exception for, “unless you have a good reason”. If you encounter a problem, you have to speak with that person first; if that doesn’t work add a witness; and if that doesn’t work, bring it to the congregation (Matthew 18:15-17). Too often we start by speaking to the masses instead of the individual. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.