Forgiveness – Unwilling to Forgive

Forgiveness – Unwilling to Forgive
“What if I don’t feel like doing the right thing?”
Relationships, Marriage
Conflict Resolution, Peace Maker
Feelings and Obedience, Commitment
Are you a hypocrite if your heart is not in it?

The relationship between feelings and obedience is the topic of today. There will be times, many times in fact, when we won’t feel like obeying God. In those situations, there will be a great tension between our feelings and our duty to obey Him.

The disciples of Jesus were caught in such a tension in Luke 17:3-10 when Jesus had just given them a difficult command to obey. There, Jesus gives them a command, but the disciples were hesitant and found themselves without the feelings and inspiration to do it. And so, they asked Jesus in verse 5 for an “increase of faith.” They wanted to obey His command, but they couldn’t find the inspiration to act on it.

Read Luke 17:3-10

To be honest, their request sounds reasonable to us, but Jesus does not grant it. Instead, he tells them a story of a farmer who had a servant working out in the field. With this parable, Jesus describes the common experience of working hard. In fact, this servant’s day does not seem to end as he works in the field or even after when he comes into the house and cooks the master’s food.

With this analogy, Jesus brings out a work ethic of working hard regardless of how one feels. The assumption is that the servant is tired and probably does not feel like doing the unending list of chores, but he does them anyway, simply because it’s his job to do so. With this illustration, Jesus concludes in verse 10 with a strong connecting phrase “so you also.”  And so, the application is made clear to the disciples:  they must also obey God’s commands regardless of how they feel, simply because it is their duty to obey.

This parable is intended to be a simple message, yet I have found in my ministry experience that even this simple concept is often misunderstood. I believe that this is largely due to our over-emphasis on inspiration or feelings as a pre-requisite to obedience.

It’s interesting how we talk of the dangers of hypocrisy if we obey God when the desire is not there.  We say, “you know, my heart is not there and if I do what God tells me and my heart is not there, then I would be a hypocrite.” Now, it is true that hypocrisy is a problem, but hypocrisy comes from a sinful heart with impure motives. Hypocrisy describes the Pharisee who prays standing up at the street corner. He’s not really praying; he just wants people to see him and give him credit. He has no concern for God; that’s hypocrisy.

But Luke 17 is NOT about hypocrisy. It’s about the disciples who really want to obey the command, but are seeking some inspiration to do it. And to this, Jesus is simply saying: Just obey! Like that multi-tasking servant, just go out there and do your job regardless of how you feel.

And this truth is already applied by us in many areas of our lives!

Isn’t this how it is in our everyday life? For example, we go to work whether we feel like it or not. When we wake up in the morning, most of us are not “inspired” to go to work. Some of you might be, but you’ll snap out of it!. Work is hard and you don’t always wake up wanting to do it. Now, what if you wake up and you are really tired and you really don’t feel like going to work? However, if you still go to work and work hard, does that make you a hypocrite? It does not. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite, it makes you committed to do your duty regardless of how you feel.

Isn’t this the example that Jesus left for us? Remember the sacrifice, the suffering, the fatigue, the hunger, and the distress of having to give up his life. Those negative feelings were so strong that he asked for that cup to be taken away from him. But still, he stayed focused and declared that not his will be done but the Father’s.

Consider Jesus today as the example of true obedience.

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3 Responses to “Forgiveness – Unwilling to Forgive

  • Hi there Pastor Tae!

    Thank you for highlighting this passage (that I forgot was even in the Bible), and showing us the meaning of the parable!

    In my experience, people have raised the excuse “I don’t feel like it” many times. Historically, we have counselled them to pray that God, by His Spirit, would give them a willingness to obey him.

    Just like David, who in Psalm 51, prayed: “…grant me a willing spirit to sustain me”.

    However, I now know that our counsel was lacking the second half…to obey regardless of feeling, out of desire to please God, and say no to our desires to please ourselves (by being lazy, or unmotivated).

    Great practical analogies from everyday life! We just had a baby daughter, and though we often do not want to change her poopy diapers…you get where we’re going.

    Hope to read more soon!

  • admin
    7 months ago

    Thank you for the great response. And I really appreciate the Psalm 51 reference. It provides a good balance, because we don’t want people to think that we are machines that operate with no feelings. Certainly, there is the work of God in our hearts. thank you so much. And blessings to your counseling ministry. I hope to hear more about it soon. Thanks=

  • No problem!

    Yeah you are right. God recreates the WHOLE person when he saves a man. The living God is the God of the living.

    What a great salvation we have in Him.

    Talk soon!

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