As we are approaching Pesach and the week of Unleavened Bread we are reminded of not only getting the leaven out of our houses but our hearts as well. In the Messianic movement Matthew 18:15-17 is often quoted as the standard for dealing with controversies between people. But there seems to be almost a glee sometimes in getting to the point of vs. 17 – maybe even skipping the protocol of vs. 15 and 16 in our rush to label the recalcitrant one a “heathen and a publican”. Sad to say, we have been a part of this mad dash to vs. 17 in the past, only realizing belatedly that by what measure we judge it will be measured back to us. We’ve all made mistakes, none of us are immune, but thank YHVH His mercy triumphs over judgment! If we took the time to read the entire 18th chapter maybe we wouldn’t rush so quickly to defend our view. (Here’s a word to meditate on – narcissism, its definition is: A pattern of traits and behaviors which signify infatuation and obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one’s gratification, dominance and ambition.)
As the chapter goes on Yashua tells a parable of a King that forgave a servant of a great debt then the same, now forgiven servant, doesn’t pass the compassion on but puts in debtor’s prison a fellow servant who owed him much less than what he had been forgiven. When the King finds out about the forgiven servant’s cruelty to his fellow servant, he severely chastises him and then puts him in prison until his great debt is paid. The conclusion to this story:
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.
We all have been forgiven much by our Heavenly Abba. His compassion is great towards us. Yashua said, a new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. Let’s put this “new” commandment in relationship to Matthew 28:15-17; and if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. If our brother sins do we then go to him in condemnation? And if he doesn’t listen to us do we then reject him and throw him out of our midst? Let us think hard about these words of Yashua:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
1Peter 4:7-8: The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be clear-minded and self-controlled, so that you can pray. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. And from Matthew 24:10-13: And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.
Yashua said in response to the question, “how many times shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Till seven times?”
Yashua said, the classic phrase we all know so well, but practice so poorly, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”
We’ve recently been the recipient of vs. 17 without benefit of vs. 15 and 16. Ecclesiastes 11:1 seems to apply both positively and negatively; “Cast your bread upon the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” What goes around does indeed come back around and usually in greater measure for we’ve been further condemned with these verses from Titus 3:10-11; “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and sinning being self-condemned.”
The persons leveling these accusations at us are even spreading tales about our unwillingness to respond to them as they think we should respond.
So what do we do?
We forgive? Yes – according to the direct command of Yashua up to seventy times seven.
Let’s look at the number seven. It is an interesting number, it means perfection or completeness. So taking this into account I forgive until the work of forgiveness is perfected or complete in me. In other words until there is no leaven (sin) doing its fomenting action in me. If I say I forgive you and hold a grudge or resentment or anger or malice or hatred or jealousy or vengefulness or revenge against my brother I have not forgiven as Yashua said to forgive – until the work of forgiveness is complete in us – no leaven.
We are given this opportunity of Pesach / Unleavened Bread to forgive our brother with the same level of compassion the King forgave His servant – totally and completely. Will YHVH be honored in our midst if we go to this feast with leaven in our hearts? Read the haftarah portion of Isaiah 43:22 – 44:23 and let it speak to you about the kind of people YHVH wants to serve Him. And remember what happened to the forgiven servant who did not practice forgiveness, “and the King, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.” Is holding onto leaven worth it?
I confess that I often struggle with the complete, perfected work of forgiveness, especially when “friends” falsely accuse you. It is difficult to turn the other cheek and not harbor bitterness and resentment toward them in your heart. But whatever momentary pleasure might be derived from this bit of self-pity will only lead to devastation, for as scripture says, a little lump will leaven the whole loaf. Soon your life will be consumed with leaven’s evil rewards for it is true that hasatan comes to do three things – to steal, kill and destroy and he is just waiting for any opportunity to wreak his havoc in you. If your life is in shambles check for leaven and then get it out for today is the day of Salvation!
Let us all come to the Pesach table free of leaven and truly celebrate the redemption provided us by The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world!