Have you learned the incredible power of forgiving others? Have you been hurt badly and find forgiveness difficult? Do you understand the terribly high price of withholding forgiveness?
Last Wednesday evening we watched an amazing video at church. It was produced by Voice of the Martyrs (http://www.persecution.com/). It reminded us of how horrific the treatment is of many Christians around the world–to this day. I won’t try to describe it here, but the torture, persecution, and death almost defies imagination. We saw Christians from all over the world (from Islamic countries, from Columbia, from China, from Indonesia, from Pakistan, from Vietnam, and other places) who had been threatened, jailed, beaten, raped, burned, shot, and cut up–just because they were Christians and would not renounce their faith in Christ.
But the most amazing thing of all was the way so many of them shared how they had forgiven the ones who had tortured them and were praying that they might come to know Christ.
That kind of response makes no sense at all to the non-Christian world! It seems absurd, ridiculous, foolish, and nonsensical.
Yet, only those who truly learn how to forgive can experience the peace that God stands ready to give.
A spirit of revenge, bitterness, anger, and resentment works like a cancer to destroy our minds and our relationships. To our “logic” or “common sense,” it may seem logical and justifiable, but ultimately, it is very foolish and self-destructive. It will also ruin our relationships with those we love, and keep us out of fellowship with God Himself. Nursing that spirit comes at a very high price.
If you want to grow strong in the Lord Jesus Christ–which is what these posts are all about, this is fundamental–and critical–stuff. We have to get it right! We have to learn how to let go of past hurts and forgive.
The Bible Says
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Mt 18:21-22 NAS95)
“But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lu 23:34 NAS95)
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Mt 6:14-15 NAS95)
“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Ro 12:19 NAS95)
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph 4:32 NAS95)
Have you, or one of your loved ones, been hurt?–Pretty badly?
Unfortunately, most of us can remember terrible hurts. And, also unfortunately, most of us have been on the other side of the equation and hurt others ourselves.
What is your attitude toward the one who hurt you? You may say, “Well, they haven’t repented yet!”
That’s totally between them and God. It is beyond our control.
We can, and we MUST choose to forgive from our hearts those who have hurt us and our loved ones! Even if they haven’t repented! It’s the only way we can experience God’s peace in our own hearts and lives.
Have You Ever Tried the Following Approach?
Try this. Get on your knees! It will help you remember what you are about to do, and it will help you stay humble!
And remember, we are not talking about feelings here. We are talking about an act of the will. A decision.
And then pray this…
Say (and mean) something like this, “Father, You have forgiven me of so much! Thank you for being so gracious and forgiving toward me! Help me to be more like You. Now, Father, I’m thinking of (fill in the blank with the name of someone who hurt you). You know what they did. And only You really know their heart. But, Father, I’m turning them over to You. You know how to love them and bless them and do what’s best for them. I choose to forgive them. I choose, as an act of my will, to release and repudiate all bitterness, anger, resentment, rage, and revenge. Vengeance belongs to You, Lord. So, as an act of the will, I’ll leave it in Your hands. Now would You please heal my emotions too? Please give me Your peace, the peace that passes all understanding. And, oh yes, Lord, before I forget… Please give extra strength, grace, and peace to my brothers and sisters who live in places where Christians are really persecuted. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”
Forgiveness and Accountability
You may ask, “Doesn’t this repudiate everything you wrote about church discipline?” Not at all! They go hand-in-glove! Church discipline is never for the purpose of revenge! It’s all about love! When we exercise church discipline, we are trying to restore a sinning Christian back into normal Christian relationships!
Unbelievers have a hard time grasping these things! But for those who are willing to see, it’s all spelled out clearly in God’s Scriptures!
Forgiveness! It’s an amazing thing!