Today’s Reading: Colossians
Forgiveness is tremendously powerful, I know, because I’ve lived it. I’m one of those people that get hurt easily and so I tend to have a lot of people in my life that I need to forgive, they’re forgiven. Not because they earned my forgiveness or because they deserved it but because God calls us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Romans 13:7-10 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. [forgiveness to whom forgiveness is owed – I’m adding that part because it applies!] Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor [or a relative]: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life! (John 3:16) That person that you’re withholding forgiveness from, Jesus died for them to seal His covenant of forgiveness with them. Who are you to judge them? You’re forgiven, why can’t they be? You’re even forgiven for withholding your forgiveness from that person… yet that’s no reason to continue withholding your forgiveness!!! Repent!
Do you know what repent means? It means STOP! Repenting is God’s shepherding staff telling you “Little lamb, you’ve gone far enough down this path, it’s time for a new direction.” Repenting means that you don’t keep doing whatever it is that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of. And there’s a difference between guilt and conviction. Guilt is from Satan, he is the accuser and he is very good at his job. The Holy Spirit convicts us to change. Satan tries to convince us that we can’t. Satan makes us feel guilty for what we have done; the Holy Spirit makes us want to do never do it again. Repenting is standing up for yourself against the accuser and agreeing with the Holy Spirit and deciding that you won’t continue down that road anymore and that you will take a new direction; one towards the loving and forgiving arms of Christ. I’ve learned that there is a huge difference between repenting and asking for forgiveness. I used to think that repenting was asking for forgiveness, through my time in the Word I’ve found that it’s not. We don’t have to ASK for God’s forgiveness, it’s a GIFT, one that was given freely and abundantly you need only to accept that gift! And then live in that freedom that God has given you through that forgiveness. Live the way He created you to live. Not according to the rules and regulations of a religion, but according to HIS LOVE! Love bears all things! His love bears your sins. His love bears your burdens. His love covers over a multitude of sins once and for all. And all He asks in return for such an amazing gift is that we LIVE IN IT. To live in it, we love others more than we love ourselves. And that, my friend, is going to look differently for everyone. For a long time I was one of those Pharisee type people that sat around a table gossiping about others and judging their actions. I knew the law, I knew the rules of Christianity (or so I thought) and I saw lots of people out there not obeying those rules! But what I was doing was pointing out the splinter in someone else’s eye when I had a huge honkin’ log in my own! I was pushing my own convictions onto others, when they obviously were not feeling convicted of the same things that I was feeling. God made us all unique! We’re all individuals. And you know what, it’s not my job to convict someone of their sins, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Yes, in the moment if someone says something unloving to someone else, or about someone else I will tell them “that wasn’t very nice”, but then I will leave it at that. It’s not my job to sit in judgment of anyone else. And it’s certainly not my job to sit around a table and accuse someone of doing something that I don’t think they should be doing. (I’m saying all of this because I have SOOOOO done it!!!)
Matthew eighteen has been a strong section of scripture for me in the last few days. Verses fifteen through twenty is Jesus’ ideal for confronting brothers and sisters in Christ. He starts with “If your brother sins against YOU, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (v 15 emphasis mine) Who is it that is being sinned against? You. If the sin is not against you, STAY OUT OF IT! Unless the person who was sinned against comes to you to ask to be a mediator in the situation it has nothing to do with you. However, if you are the one who was hurt by someone else, don’t assume that they know what they did and hold it against them. The silent treatment is the worst possible thing that you could do. Jesus tells us that we are to go and TELL them that they have hurt you. The majority of hurts can be worked through in one conversation. There are hurts however that run deeper than that and will take more conversation and more forgiveness on our part. Later in chapter eighteen of Matthew Peter came up to Jesus and said to Him “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” We are not called to keep a literal count of how many times we have forgiven someone we are called to simply keep forgiving. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t learn our lesson the first time and change the way we relate to the person who hurt us, we are not called to be doormats for people to constantly wipe their feet on our face. Be we are called to forgive them. Just like God forgave us, infinitely. Jesus tells us the following verse to further illustrate this point.
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [all of it] But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.
My friend, have you ever held un-forgiveness in your heart against someone? I have prayed and prayed and prayed over this verse because I have been told that when the master delivers the servant to the jailer it means that when we withhold forgiveness from someone else it means that we will go to hell – the eternal jail. In prayer the Father revealed to me the key word in this verse “jailers”. The master delivered the servant to the jailers until his debt was paid. In the ESV translation there is a notation next to the word “jailer”, in Hebrew it means tormentors. If you have held un-forgiveness in your heart you will know exactly what it’s like to have been turned over to the tormentors. When you have not forgiven someone it torments you! You replay the moment over and over again in your head, think of things you could have said, should have said, would have said or done. That moment of injury plagues you and torments you until you finally give up the ghost and decided to forgive the person. When we refuse forgiveness, it may distress the other party involved but it very likely will not. But it will most certainly distress you! In True Intimacy I referred to un-forgiveness like a ball of fire. The longer you hold it the longer it burns… you. Until you pass that ball into God’s court and let Him put out the flames of fury the only thing that ball is going to do is keep getting your hands and your heart hotter and hotter until you simply can’t stand it anymore. Your un-forgiveness might even make you physically ill! It’s not beyond the realm of possibility! Our spiritual sicknesses most often manifest themselves in a physical way to get you to pay attention to them.
Open the Eyes of my Heart by Hillsong
Today I encourage you to take some time and do a mental inventory with God, are you withholding forgiveness from someone?