THE WALK OF FORGIVENESS I
LAY IT AT THE ALTER – AND LEAVE IT
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”. (Psalm 32:1) Forgiveness is NOT an option for the Christian. I along with many others in the Christian faith believe that harboring a root of bitterness is like a “cancer” that infects our conscience and shatters our relationship with Christ. We may deny that we actually have hatred because it is such a serious accusation – but that is exactly what it is. We may daydream about executing vengeance and retaliation and even enjoy the “visions” of seeing someone get what they deserve but this just multiplies our anxiety. We may convince our “religious piety” that we can pray one minute and hate the next minute but we are only deceiving ourselves. Walking in God’s divine reality is abiding in love toward Him and toward all people. Since hatred for people is SIN and the opposite of God’s character, we can be assured that being offended separates us from His presence and paralyzes our spiritual anointing and development. “If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (I John 4:20) We also must guard our mouth from spewing criticism because this is “dangerous” negative confession that confirms and establishes our hostility not to mention a sinful witness and testimony. If we really desire to do a serious inventory of our “vital signs”, let us simply think about those whom we are offended with and those “feelings” will expose us. Psychiatry may be convinced that love and forgiveness cannot be a determined act, but they are wrong! Optimism, joy, happiness, love, freedom, purity and forgiveness are CHOICES that each person makes everyday. And if we do not have the strength to WALK in God’s character, then He is more than willing to empower us with whatever we need to live in His will. Of course our old nature wants to fight against our humility because we see the ones who have hurt us as our evil enemy. We must transfer this negative energy into sincere prayers of forgiveness toward those who are blind and repent for our bad attitudes. When we are honest about our hate then we can begin to restructure our thinking and eventually rest in the peace and comfort of knowing that all is well with our soul. We must yield the temptation to avenge in the flesh and this will bring a freedom that will open the door for Jesus to return to our table and fellowship with us. Our war is against the evil influences that are trying to destroy our relationships, our health and happiness, “through” the coldness of others. It is never easy to “let it go” but it is HIS way to joy and freedom. “He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor. Whoever restrains his mouth and his tongue, keeps his soul from troubles”. (Proverbs 21:21, 23) Give God your burdens, repent and fall at the feet of Jesus; He will show us when, where and how to deal with every situation.
TWO WRONGS WILL NEVER JUSTIFY OUR FAILURE
Don’t try to turn the situation around on someone else when you share the blame. If it is your fault, stand up and take the consequence. We can become so involved and consumed with proving that others are just as (or more) guilty as us (but are receiving no punishment) that we begin to believe we have no blame at all. Two wrongs do not make a right and this train of thought is necessary to WALK in the courage that it takes to be a disciple of Christ. We do not like to stand alone because it takes faith and is uncomfortable but we must learn that it is a huge part of abiding in the vine. Usually we try to argue and prove that others have abused us, tortured us, took advantage of us, attacked us, lied and deceived us or were just flat out mean to us, while we were innocent. Sometimes this may actually be the case but the point is not how we were treated – but how we REACTED to how we were treated! This victim mentality can become a shield that we hide behind providing a false shelter that “enables” us to live in our den of sin. You see, Jesus never said that if the offense was committed on a higher level that it could justify holding a grudge. That’s because He knew how much spiritual, mental and physical damage resentment can bring. It begins as a child when we cry to mommy that “he’s doing it too”. We fall into a habit and pattern of never taking responsibility for our own actions and no matter how beautiful you paint it – this is still just plain old immaturity. In Christ we must put away childish attitudes and learn how to become diligent, strong and wise having the courage to stand in honor even when it is uncomfortable. If we had a part in the problem then we need to reach out and not only ask God to forgive us but also reach out to the other party in the spirit of humility and restoration. If we were innocent in the entire matter we not take the attitude of waiting for them to apologize but attempt to extend God’s love. If we do our part, we can rest in the assurance that God will take over to bring the healing miracle. When we declare Jesus as the Lord of our life, we submit to His authority as the private does not argue with the sergeant and the sergeant does not argue with the general. We must lay down our arguments and put our faith in the super-natural power of the Holy Spirit. God changes the hearts of people, it is God that makes the crooked places straight and it is God who makes a way when there is no other way. Selah.
Our court system has become filled with the demonic spirits of justification. Defense attorneys are allowed to argue in behalf of the guilty and are given the right to ridicule the innocent in the name of confusion. Our carnal nature does not want to admit our guilt or face the responsibility of TRUTH and since our legal system is built upon this distortion, it produces the twisted abuse of our laws. In this “upside down world” the battle-cry has become, “two wrongs make a right’ but that is not true; two wrongs make two wrongs. Our system has become a reflection of mans attempt to deceive everyone into believing that the guilty do not deserve to be punished for doing wrong. They try to prove that everyone has a justified reason for doing wrong but this is not the way it should be! And just because people are forgiven, it does not mean they are excused! When people do wrong they should be held accountable. All sin has consequences – even if we ask everyone involved including God to forgive us, it does not change the facts or the damage that has been done. Many people are sitting in prison right now because of the horrible crimes they have committed – and rightly so. Just because God has forgiven them and even if the victims have forgiven them, it does not mean they should be set free. What good would it do to be “legally” released from guilt yet having to live with knowing we betrayed the spiritual truth in our conscience…unless that also has turned to stone?
KILL THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS
“Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently (watching carefully) lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many are defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15) If someone is targeting you to ruin your reputation and you are dreaming of revenge, give it completely over to God. If people disrespect you, talk bad about you or plan to destroy you, it is to say the least, in your best interest to stay in prayer. I never said this was easy – it takes faith to believe that God is aware of the situation and that He is actively working on our behalf to take care of it His way. Listen to the Words of God, “It is GOD that AVENGES me and SUBDUES the people under me. He delivers me from my enemies: yes, you lift me up above those that rise up against me: you have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord among the heathen and sing praises unto thy name”. (Psalm 18:47-49) Our anger will never have the power to “fix” our situation but these battles must be fought in the spirit realm where God’s Word, his angels and his Holy Spirit can get involved. For the sake of love we must “go to war” on our knees and sincerely desire to see it work out for God’s glory – not our selfish revenge. The amount of assistance we receive depends on the condition of our attitude. If we truly love God then we are promised that all things (even bad) will work together for the GOOD, and that “good” is opening the eyes of everyone to the beauty of His truth. We cannot afford to hate anyone. This hatred for your enemy is a wound that becomes gangrene very quickly and while we watch our enemy walk off laughing we can become tightly bound in a spiritual straightjacket. This can grow into a crippling “disease” that can definitely cause physical illness to our body. If left unrestrained the nervous pressure and anxiety will increase along with the ever-present satanic “whispers” that can drive us to the next level of rage. Hatred is a destructive force that can rapidly spin out of control unless we willingly fall at Jesus feet and cry out to him for help. We must force our flesh to obey God’s word to love and forgive those who trespass against us. This is one of the most difficult acts of obedience we can follow in our Christian walk. The Greek definition of the word “offence” is skandalon which means “snare trap”. The idea is where a young tree is bent over and secured while a rope is tied to the top. The other end has a noose and is hidden under the leaves. When a person steps into the noose a trigger releases the tree and the rope snares the foot. The person ends up hanging upside down, dangling helplessly because they cannot reach the ground or the rope. This is a perfect example of the spiritual condition of those who have ALLOWED themselves to be caught in the snare trap of being offended. Unforgiveness shuts down our relationship with God and can turn our river of living water into a literal Death Valley. We can clearly see how joy and freedom are closely related. The more we forgive the more free we are and this contentment of His peace helps us “fly” into His presence.