Saturday, August 28, 2010


Reading about the painful divorce between Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, there was an interesting quote about forgiveness being part of the grieving process that takes time.

The truth for many people is that forgiveness is something that never happens... the pain and anger of personal betrayal never attenuates and often grows beyond what anyone might have imagined. The reality, however, is that forgiveness is necessary. Not just for the other people involved... but for yourself.

Reading that article reminded me of another situation... a rift between a pastor and the leadership of his church that ripped the congregation nearly in half. 

One leader made the comment regarding the now ex-pastor, “I will never forgive him for what he did!”  Never is a long, long time... and the refusal to forgive is a dangerous, dangerous thing.

Not surprisingly, this is a common emotion.  And, as time has proven over and over again, is a potentially deadly emotion.

How Many Times?

Simon Peter asked Jesus a question regarding forgiveness. Specifically, how many times should his brother get away with a sin? Peter asked if seven strikes would tbe the magic number. Jesus upped the number to 490 strikes! Then, He added a bit of expository to make the necessity of forgiveness even more profound:

21Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?
22Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!
23Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants.
24When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10,000,000],
25And because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made.
26So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.
27And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [cancelling] the debt.
28But that same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about twenty dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, Pay what you owe!
29So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, Give me time, and I will pay you all !
30But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him put in prison till he should pay the debt.
31When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master.
32Then his master called him and said to him, You contemptible and wicked attendant! I forgave and cancelled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to.
33And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you?
34And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed.
35So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.
Matthew 18:21-35 [AMP]

Jesus told the parable about two men who owed a debt that could not be paid.  One owed an amount that would probably be ten-million dollars in our current economy.  The reckoning might have been devastating, except that he obtained mercy.

Later, when his co-worker failed pay the twenty bucks owed to him, the man failed to show the same mercy that he had received.  The end result of that guy was dismal... he was sent to Gitmo to be water-boarded until somebody came up with the $10,000,000 to bail him out.


Jesus makes it clear that if we do not forgive others, we will be in BIG TROUBLE.  So then, how many times are we expected to forgive?

Seventy Times Seven!

Mark Gershmehl wrote a wonderful song about forgiveness... stemming from a painful experience in his own life. This song spells out what Peter was asking... and delineates the response eloquently. If you would like to listen to this song, use the player below:

During the close of the song, take note of how Rick Florian provocatively emotes some of the difficulties of forgiving someone those 490 times:

  • Lord, You know just how hard I have tried…
  • Gotta see that I’m hurting inside…
  • Don’t you know that my pride is at stake…
  • So tell me how much one should take…

If we were to be honest... we would agree that those things add up to a prideful attitude. I have tried. I’m hurting inside. My pride is at stake. Get it?

It all adds up to a bad attitude. Once you lose that ‘tood, you can move closer to the state of forgiveness.

Lose Da Tood

Now comes the $64 question. How exactly does one manage to forgive someone who dealt something so painful to us? Joyce Meyer was kind enough to help us out with the following scriptures (thanks Joyce):

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].
Romans 8:6 [AMP]

Or, as Lon Solomon put it… it is impossible for us to live the way that Jesus did... to forgive the way that He forgave, etc. We can only do so by allowing Christ to live in (and through ) us by His Holy Spirit. Of course, it is up to us to yield to the Spirit... since He has the right of way.

The natural mind finds it very difficult (if not impossible) to forgive. Those who have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) find it an accessible reality.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Romans 12:2 [AMP]

This does not happen to us instantaneously. Would be nice, granted. Still, it is a process that will continue in us until the day that we die. But ain’t it grand when we see those incremental bits of improvement in our lives. Maybe you used to stay mad for weeks, but now you only stay angry for a few days. Keep with it until those days shrink to hours... and hours to minutes... and minutes to seconds. When you reach the nanosecond and picosecond increments, let us know!  ☺

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)
2nd Corinthians 10:4-5 [AMP]

In our albums Non-Carnal Warfare and The Art of Fighting Without Fighting, we go indepth on this subject. We don’t fight the temptation to hold on to anger and unforgiveness through natural means. It is a spiritual condition that is battled via spiritual warfare. The weapons we use to win the battle are delineated in the following scriptures:

10In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].
11Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,
15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.
16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.
18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).
Ephesians 6:10-18 [AMP]

But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts).
Romans 13:14 [AMP]

The term “evil cravings of your physical nature” can also refer to the desire for revenge… the desire to have a pity party… the desire to wallow in your emotions. But putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One and His Anointing) gives us the ability to slough off unforgiveness, extinguish the pain of betrayal and annihilate the hurt and anger once and for all. Well, if it tries to do a Freddy Krueger and rise again to come after you, you can use that same spiritual armor to put it down as many times as is necessary. That is part of yielding to the Spirit (Who has the right of way).

Ultimately, what neutralizes the unforgiveness is the power of love. You are putting on the Son of God... and God is love (see 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16).

The Love Solution

Again, giving credit where credit is due… we must thank Joyce Meyer for help in assembling the following:

And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27 [AMP]

If you have ever seen the movie Ghost of Girlfriends Past, it is amusing to see one guy’s wedding destroyed because his bride-to-be refuses to forgive him for an infraction in his past. His bride flees the altar because she doesn’t want to forgive him.

What if she had messed up and wanted forgiveness? Well, in Hollywood logic, she would have excused herself and continued to hate on her man. But in God’s logic, we need to give to others what we would want to receive for ourselves. So, since we want to receive forgiveness, we must minister forgiveness to others.

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].
John 13:34-35 [AMP]

To forgive is an act of love. Love is the new commandment. It not only reflects what Jesus did for us… but it is the only sure-fire method of showing people that Jesus is real. And sadly, there are too many atheists who are being fed by the failure of Christians to live up to that love commmandment.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire. So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.
Matthew 5:21-24 [AMP]

Whoa! Now we are getting deep! The fruit of unforgiveness leads down a rocky path that can end in the fiery pits of hell. For those of you who want to keep your eternal fire insurance policy intact... keep this in mind!

And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].
Luke 9:23 [AMP]

Jesus’ example is the one that we need to follow. And what did Jesus do? What did Jesus say?

And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Luke 23:34a [AMP]

So then, how do we become children who grow up into the paradigm of Love set by our Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus? We need to make a few trips to the gym!

The Forgiveness Workout

♫ ♪  She ain’t heavy... she’s my lover!  ♪ ♫

Let us close with a bit more emphasis on the fact that forgiveness is something that takes constant effort... like the repetitions of a weight lifter... or the laps ran around the track... or the time spent on a cardio program...

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]
Ephesians 4:23 [AMP]

The word constantly is key.

This is not a one-time-good-deal. This is something one has to commit to for life. A hard beach body takes continual visits to the gym. Ha hard love spirit takes continual prayer, continual Bible study, continual fellowship with God.

And, like physical workouts, they have to be done correctly.

KEEP YOUR foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 [AMP]

Don’t worry.  Our tests are open-book tests.  And the book that we open is the BIBLE... Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  And the number one instruction that Jesus gave us was to love.

It is kinda hard to be angry and love someone at the same time.  Love, as Larry Graham sang, covers a multitude of sin.

No comments: