Forgiveness Puts Faith to Work
But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them [praying as they do]; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:6-15 AMP (2015)
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke23:34 AMP (2015)
Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will]. For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you. Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others]. [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.”] Mark 11:22-26 AMP (2015)
So if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and while there you remember that your brother has something [such as a grievance or legitimate complaint] against you, leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:23-24 AMP (2015)
Unforgiveness is one of the most subtle, yet disabling forces that works against the believer achieving anything for God in this Earth. Bitterness and resentment are ugly feelings that are usually close companions to unforgiveness. This is because unforgiveness is the result of an action, or collection of actions, over time, committed against you, by someone else, that has caused offense, harm, or loss, of one kind or another. Even if the offense was not physical in nature, the resulting fruit of harbouring
this ungracious force can and will eventually manifest itself in a range of ways both physical and psychological. To say that someone is “Bitter and Twisted” is not just a comical turn of phrase, it has its origin in the physical manifestation of warped human bodies brought about as a consequence of unresolved unforgiveness.
If you discount the spiritual significance of the effects of relationships with other people it is always possible to find an organic cause for the conditions that manifest in this way. But, truth be told, you do so at great risk. Socially, people who bear grudges, are unforgiving, or slow to forgive, or who harbour bitter and ill feelings towards people, are more often than not, very difficult people to engage in pleasant conversation. They always have to have something to complain about. You often find old people who are in decline will provide you with a clear picture of what their practice has been in either holding onto resentment, or the practice of being quick to forgive; particularly the forgiveness of others.
I know that in my own life it has been essential to maintain this practice of quickly forgiving the offense of others. I am very thankful that God led me on a path that persuaded me early on in my life, that the gospel is both true and real. As a boy, at school, in Australia, I was severely bullied by my peers for being different. So much so that even when the principle individuals, who had started the barrage of abuse, had moved on to the high school, at the end of that first year, those who remained with me in my final year at primary school maintained the same level of physical and psychological abuse that I had been subjected to previously. The following year I also moved on to the high school and the original perpetrators were, in effect, waiting for me. For the following 3 years, I lived a daily torrent of abuse that seemed to come from every direction. I found it difficult to make friends and even when I did those friendships didn’t last very long because they would be treated to the same kind of abuse until such time that they backed away from me and either joined in the taunting or, at the very least, avoided me.
I can safely say that the application of the teaching of Jesus of the importance of “forgiving your enemy” and the need to “bless those who persecute you” saved my life throughout that period, that I took to be my personal trial, for the sake of the Gospel. The scant snippets of scripture that I received at Mass, on Sundays, provided me with enough strength to make through the next week; this is one of the reasons that I avoided, at all costs, missing going to church. Had I known then what I know now, about the power of the word of God to effect change in my own life and that of others, I believe that the effect that the abuse had upon me, would have been completely different. But, it is one of the reasons that I believe that children need to be exposed to the truth of the word of God at an early age and one of the reasons that I used to really enjoy teaching “Children’s Church”.I lived
I lived the walk of forgiveness and the Love of God during those years, so that when the thoughts and eventually the opportunity to actually attempt suicide, came about; there was enough spiritual development on the inside of me to hold me back, from the brink, and to stir the desire and inclination within me to push on and push through the depression and the desire to just end it all. I had learned to be quick to forgive others, no matter the offense. Forgiving myself, on the other hand, was not so easy. In fact “Self-Forgiveness” is often the hardest of all.
I still have to remind myself, at times, the words that a dear friend of mine, Father Phillip Watson sss, keeps on saying when I see him: “Be kind to yourself!” This rings so true to the teaching of Jesus that we are to: “Love your neighbour, as you Love yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Those two little words “as you” are the key to successful application of that piece of scripture; that command from Christ. “As you” like the phrase “Even as” from 1John 3:1, is an instruction fo us to do, what is being commanded, “In direct proportion to”. In other words, we can only effectively love somebody else in direct proportion to the way we love ourselves.
You might say to me: “But, brother Graham, isn’t that a bit selfish; a bit narcissistic?” If we were talking about self-centred human love, where we spend all of our time and money pampering our own wants and desires, using other people for our own gratification, I would agree with you. But, in this case, we’re talking about a higher kind of love; the agape Love of God. This is Love perfected. The greeks had this word long before Jesus came along. But, the selfless expression of the Love of God, in Jesus, provided a firm example of what that word really meant. So, if this is the kind of love that we’re referring to what would be the manner that we could express that love to ourselves and then on, outward to others? In the case of “Loving your neighbour” it would appear that unless we first learn to love ourselves, we will be bereft of any knowledge of how to love our neighbour. As has been said so many times before “You can’t give, to someone else, something you haven’t received yourself.”
See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1John 3:1 AMP (2015)
God himself regards us as his children. In fact, given the context, the text refers to us as being awarded, given freely, by his grace, the full stature of ‘Sonship’. That means that we have been given all of the rights and privileges that the eldest son would receive as their birthright. As I said, we are reading this contextually. So the term ‘Sonship’ is relevant, in this case, for us to consider that the eldest son would be regarded as the next of Kin. The Eldest son would have access to all of the respect and cooperation, from the servants, as the father had. He would also be the primary inheritor of ALL of the belongings, all of the property, all of the clothing, jewellery and stock, herds and chattels that his father owned. This would all occour as a result of attaining his legal age of majority. As the heir apparent, he would be regarded as his Father’s sole representative, acting for his Father and speaking for his Father. Additionally, he would not have to wait until his father died before all of this took place; it would be presumed, by all and sundry, to be so, unless they were told otherwise, once the son had achieved a particular age. Perhaps that gives you some insight into what Jesus was saying when he would remark “I only say the things I hear the Father say!” or “I only do the things I see the Father do!” Jesus knew who he was, as a result of studying the scriptures and through his time spent in prayer and conversation with the Father; even at the age of 12 he was able to say to his mother: “Did you not know that I would be about my Father’s business?” when they found him in the temple expounding to the elders gathered there.
Having established what this phrase means contextually, let us now apply it to our lives. By being Born Again, by making Jesus the Lord of our lives, we have attained this same kind of standing with God the Father, because WE ARE IN CHRIST. Because we are a part of the Body of Christ, in the Earth, we have been raised up to sit with him. We have been created as brand new creatures, spiritually, as a result of this new birth. We have inherited ALL of the promises made to Abraham, with All of the Curse taken care of, even if we do sin, by the redemptive work of Jesus at Calvary, his descent into Hell and his resurrection from the dead and Ascension into Heaven. ALL of this is referred to, in the scriptures, in past tense, not future tense. In other words, we need to wake up to the realisation that ALL of this has ALREADY taken place in our lives and we need to bring our WHOLE self to a point of realisation and acceptance. We need to do this because God is not going to force it upon us. But, it is there for the taking and NONE of us is WORTHY, which is the reason it is given FREELY by his GRACE.
What has all this got to do with Loving yourself or, for that matter, Forgiveness? Good question. I’m glad you asked it. Because the answer is EVERYTHING! You see, the best way you can love yourself is to come to the realisation that, in and of yourself, there’s not much to love. UNLESS you have let God take pride of place as the centre of your life. Because all that is good about you is as a result of God’s gift in the first place. But, when you then bring to that the message of what the New Birth has done in your life and as you take the time to spend with God and his word; allowing him to change and renew the way you think about yourself, because of what he has done in you; THEN you are in a place to be able to live and walk in Love. Because you have come to the realisation that you are loved, because God sees you as loveable and that then has an effect upon how you see and treat others around you. Even when they try, or even succeed in harming you. Jesus is our best example of this. From the cross he is heard saying “And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing His clothes among themselves.” Luke 23:34 AMP (2015) even when they have taken from him everything that he had and were now taking his life, he was prepared to give forgiveness.
It is essential for us to remember just how important this command for us to forgive others is in our spiritual walk. Mark 11:22-24 is the great FAITH scripture. we know that without Faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), But, far too often we have stopped there at the end of Mark 11:24 and have grasped ahold of “You can have what you say!” Except, it doesn’t end there because in many translations you will find the word AND is right there in front of verse 25, which means that Jesus continues to talk about this subject in the next verse. AND When you stand praying your prayer of Faith….. You also have to do this FORGIVE, ANYONE you are holding Unforgiveness towards. Then to drive it even further home….”If you don’t forgive, then your father in Heaven cannot, CANNOT, Forgive YOU. OUCH!!!
Pay close attention to this next part. This is the key to putting this scripture into action. The key to walking a life free of Unforgiveness is summed up in one word. OBEDIENCE!
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed [is better] than the fat of rams. 1Samuel 15:22b AMP (2015)
Yes, Obedience. If it’s for no other reason than you want to please God, that’s a pretty good reason to be obedient. In fact, that’s the best reason. But, as I’ve already demonstrated here previously, unforgiveness in your life will rob you of your ability to walk in Faith, which, in turn, will please God, but additionally it will also deal with the mountains that you face in your life.
But, there is something to remember about the damage that unforgiveness does to your life. It is an insidious force that binds you up every which way. The interesting thing is that the target of your unforgiveness, someone who you believe has done something to cause you offense or harm, may be totally oblivious to what you have been offended by. Even if what they did was intentional, your unforgiveness towards them has no effect on them whatsoever. If the person you are not forgiving is someone you encounter with any form of regularity then those feelings that you have, that you think are eating away at you, and dominating your thoughts when you are around that person, are doing exactly that; they’re eating away at you. If that person is also having a good time; laughing and joking and getting on with everyone else; you will find yourself becoming withdrawn; backing away from the social group. The unforgiveness is doing exactly what it is designed to do. It is from the pit of Hell itself and it is designed to Rob, Kill and to Destroy you and your life; YOUR LIFE. Because the only person bound up by unforgiveness, if you will not forgive, is YOU.
I’ve seen people’s lives absolutely destroyed by unforgiveness. Friends and family members who have held something that someone has done against them for years, in some cases 30 or 40 years, totally oblivious to the effect it is having on their relationships with people around them. They are crippled with pain. They have lost All sense of reason, or their bitterness comes out in ways that make people feel uncomfortable around them and drives others away causing them to lament the fact that they are lonely and no one comes to visit them. Yet, there are others who are quick to forgive, quick to repent, when they’ve done something wrong. They live life unburdened by unforgiveness and right into their latter years they are in good health mentally and socially. They have a light air about them and they are people you want to spend time with and enjoy their company.
Forgiveness is a function of your WILL. Like Faith and Love, Forgiveness is not dependent upon how you feel. In fact, you can FEEL like the thought of forgiving someone for something they have just done to hurt or offend you as the furthest thing from your imagination, based on what you feel like. But, if you make the decision to act on the word of God, on the basis of being obedient to Jesus’ command to forgive AND if you begin to practice Forgiveness as an act of your Will, you will become fluent at it. The Love of God TAKES no account of a suffered wrong (1Corinthians 13:4-8a) or the evil done to it. Take note of this, though; our flesh will rebel, initially, as we begin to practice forgiveness. But, it is our job to tame our flesh and bring IT under both our control and subject to what the Word of God has to say. If we want to live our life free from condemnation. then we need to practice walking after the promptings of our spirit, instructed by Holy Spirit; this takes practice and time. So, “Be Kind to Yourself!”
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