Forgiveness is vital to answered prayer… to having an unencumbered walk with God… and to having the right relationships with others. And, if we do not forgive others… we won’t see our sins forgiven.
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.
I recall when a rift formed between a pastor and the leadership of his church. The long drawn-out battle literally ripped the congregation 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?
by Brotha DC
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:
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!
by White Heart
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
by Brotha DC
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.
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! ☺
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:
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
by Brotha DC
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.
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.
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!
Jesus’ example is the one that we need to follow. And what did Jesus do? What did Jesus say?
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...
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.
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.