Tag Archives: forgiveness

Let It Go, Monkey | Bible Gleanings – April 24-25, 2021

Let It Go, Monkey

Monkeys may be smart but they are also selfish. That’s what African poachers have observed as they’ve lured and captured hundreds of unsuspecting primates in order to smuggle and sell them illegally. According to one wildlife conservation organization, about three-thousand chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans are unlawfully seized or killed every year. And from Cameroon to Zimbabwe, these criminal hunters have discovered one fail proof method for snatching a monkey: taking advantage of the monkey’s greed.

Colorful and appealing items like bananas are placed inside the cages that poachers litter across monkey-populous rainforests and grasslands. Of course, this entices the monkeys, but they have become smart enough over time to know better than to enter the cages. Instead, they try to steal the bait from the outside. They reach inside through the bars, tighten their grip, and try everything from chewing to screaming in an attempt to seize the enticing object. However, trappers hiding nearby are well aware that their gnawing and squealing leads only to their capture, as the bait object is intentionally too large to pass through. The monkey is then hopelessly trapped by his refusal to let go. He remains enslaved as long as he has a death grip on the bait. If the monkey would learn to let go, he could avoid captivity and happily roam the jungle.

Unfortunately, it is our sinner-tendency to act like a monkey when it comes to forgiving others of their trespasses against us. Although Jesus directs us to forgive those who have wronged us (Matt. 6:14-15), our natural impulse is to clamp down on their offenses. We think to ourselves, “Until I feel you have repaid me for the wrong you’ve done, I will never let this go!” The worst part about it is we actually become sin’s monkey when we refuse to forgive. If you are withholding forgiveness from a wrongdoer in your life, you are the one in captivity. As long as you have a relentless grip on someone’s offense or debt, you will remain captured by the prison of unforgiveness. And what God wants you to do, for your own benefit, is let go. 

You might be thinking, “But I can’t forgive—I just can’t.” Can I tell you something surprising? You are absolutely right. The first step in forgiving someone is recognizing that you can’t do it on your own. Unforgiveness is part of your nature as sin’s monkey—forgiveness is contrary to it.

Therefore, what you need in order to forgive is something divine: the grace of God. It’s no surprise, then, that when Paul wrote to Philemon about forgiving his wrongdoer, Onesimus, he prayed first that God would grant him the grace to forgive: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 3).

Forgiveness is not something to monkey around with. If you don’t let go by God’s grace, unforgiveness will never let you go.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Cleaning the Old Battlefield | Bible Gleanings – April 17-18, 2021

Cleaning the Old Battlefield

It had become a war zone all over again. Acres of once-luscious pine forests had turned to ash. Four hundred homes were obliterated or rendered uninhabitable by the scorching blaze. Peals of crackling thunder echoed through the country as landmines detonated. Bullets popped back and forth for hours on end. A dense cloud of sulfuric smoke loomed over the land. And as always, people ultimately paid the price—a significant number were injured, some went missing, and worst of all, seven people died. 

This was no ordinary war, however, since the bearer of blame was an act of nature. This war zone was created by a wildfire. According to the New York Times, a wildfire burned out of control in Ukraine last October, and as it burned through green hills and dry woodland, remnants of an old conflict reignited. Because of the heat, thousands of lost bullets, unexploded artillery shells, and anti-tank mines erupted. The fires of war rekindled because the fragments of an old war were never properly removed. The rump and remains of past battles that were forgotten and neglected eventually reignited and started another kind of war.

And the same thing will happen to us when we fail to clean up old battlefields of our past by forgiving those who have trespassed against us. You’ve had bullets of harsh words and hurtful comments fired at you before, haven’t you? I’ll bet a few grenades of slander and malice have been tossed towards your trench a time or two. If you’re like me, then you’ve also had landmines of betrayal scattered on your path by those you thought you could trust. We all have an old battlefield with someone that we need to clear up—and the way you do is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not forgetting the battle ever happened and it’s not pretending as though it didn’t. Forgiveness is looking at someone who has wronged you and saying, “What you did was wrong—these bullets and landmines are yours—but I am clearing it up. I am not holding this against you. I am absolving you of what you’ve done. And I’m cleaning up this old battlefield so it doesn’t reignite in the future.”

The Lord Jesus commands you to do this. He stated that you should forgive your trespassers every time you pray (Matt. 6:15; Mark 11:25). He even said that you should forgive someone four-hundred and ninety times if you have to (Matt. 18:21-22). But here’s the hard truth: if you refuse to forgive a person, the remnants of your past conflict will eventually rekindle. The longer you withhold forgiveness, the more you will end up hurting yourself. Forgiveness is certainly hard but unforgiveness is even harder in the long haul. By the grace of God, do the right thing and clean up the old battlefield. You’ll be glad you did.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Forgiven but Unforgiving | Bible Gleanings – April 10-11, 2021

Forgiven but Unforgiving

“My lord, please, I don’t have any money. Is there another way?” he begged, as he prostrated himself before the king. The poverty-stricken man was penniless and poor. Bankrupt and beggarly, he owned only the shabby and moth-eaten clothes on his back. He had run out of money and could not outrun justice, for the king of his country had come to collect a debt. “Then you leave me no choice,” thundered the king. “Guards—seize the man, his family, and his possessions—prison shall be his home until payment is made.”

Sapped of strength at this awful verdict, the man dropped to the ground, hugged the king’s feet, and implored him while tears rushed down his dusty cheeks. “O, noble king, this mammoth debt is mine to pay, down to the last penny. But my pockets are depleted. I beg you for mercy.” The sight of his misfortune and suffering made the king’s heart quiver with compassion. “Then it is done—I shall have pity on you, my servant. The entire debt is forgiven,” the king assured. The man, overcome with joy, sprouted from the dirt and kissed his family, overwhelmed by the mercy that had been shown to him.

The following morning, a familiar fellow passed by his home and he rushed out to stop him. “I know you, and you owe me money! Pay up right now!” Then said the fellow, “Alas! Sir, I am meager and moneyless. Please, have patience and when I am able, I will pay every cent of this small debt.” But the man shook the passerby and even began to choke him. “If you can’t pay me, then you will pay in prison,” he said, and he ordered the authorities to put him away.

The townspeople chattered about this damnable hypocrisy until it reached the king. Infuriated with the man’s double-dealing, he sent for him to be brought before the throne. “What have you done?” he roared. “I forgave you because you pleaded with me, and you showed no mercy to your neighbor who owed only a little? Be gone and live the rest of your days in chains!”

I wish this story were an original, but this is actually a parable Jesus told in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). Obviously, I have added details for emphasis, but the point is clear: because the man was forgiven a gargantuan debt, it should have been easy for him to forgive one who owed him a smaller debt. Likewise, if God forgave the multitude of your sins against Him, you ought to forgive others when they trespass against you. Dire consequences await if you don’t (see v. 35). Therefore, forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32). If God has given you mercy, give mercy to others.


Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

You Are Redeemed (Eph. 1:7-8)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 9th day of September 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their two dogs, Susie and Aries.

The Fundamentals of Forgiveness – Part 1 (Philemon 1a)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 4th day of November 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their two dogs, Susie and Aries.

You’ve Got Questions: What’s the Problem with Cursing/Cussing?

You’ve Got Questions: What’s the Problem With Cussing?

(Updated)

Consider this answer from a reliable Bible questions website and let me know what you think:

“It is definitely a sin to swear (curse, cuss, etc.). The Bible makes this abundantly clear. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” First Peter 3:10 declares, “For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” James 3:9-12 summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James makes it clear that the lives of Christians – the “brothers” – should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and cursing come from his/her mouth. We cannot praise God while at the same time cursing our brothers.

Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Why is it a sin to cuss / swear / curse? Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man” (Romans 7:22), which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we swear and curse, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. When we put our faith in Christ, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us (Romans 12:1–2). Thankfully, when we fail, our great God is “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).”

I agree with the author of this Got Questions article. Cursing is a serious sin, but so is God’s forgiveness of this particular sin.