This is a manuscript for a message I hope to deliver soon. I pray you are encouraged.
Tonight’s question is simple: Has anyone ever wounded, hurt, or offended you… DEEPLY? Notice I qualified it… DEEPLY. There is a difference between a slight & a wound. Slights are easily overlooked (Pr 19:11). Wounds are tough to get over.
Illustration: A lady in a church I served asked a question after a message on forgiveness. She told me her husband was transporting a prisoner who got out of his handcuffs… overpowered him… handcuffed him to a tree… and executed him. Then she asked,
I know I’m supposed to forgive… and I want to forgive. But I can’t bring myself to do it. What he did was too horrible, painful, traumatic, and hurtful. You said if we don’t forgive then we may not have been forgiven. What do I do?…
Quick Aside: Miroslav Volf (A Croatian theologian whose family was killed because of their ethnic origin) wrote, “If you can forgive easily you haven’t been wounded deeply.” Keep that in mind. But first a little more about Ms. Kathryn…
At times we say things that are beyond us. I realized after responding to her I had been prompted by the Spirit to give this answer (As best I can remember):
Ms. Kathryn, I don’t think you have anything to worry about regarding your salvation. If you refused to forgive, then I’d be worried. The fact that you want to forgive is credible proof you ARE saved. Remember the dad whose son was demon possessed? The boy would foam at the mouth & jump into fire… from his early childhood? Jesus told him everything is possible for those who believe. The dad said, “I believe; HELP MY UNBELIEF!?” (Mk 9:24). Ms. Kathryn, you are in the process of forgiving a very deep wound. There is nothing wrong with prayerfully asking God to help you grow in forgiveness toward that person until you have forgiven him…
This affirms the earlier quote, “If you can forgive easily you haven’t been wounded deeply.” The kind of forgiveness we will consider is not the easy kind. Let’s ponder that forgiving a deep wound is more a PROCESS than an event (Repeat). But before we go there, let’s think…
As always, Scripture is our guide. But there’s a problem, we are spiritually blind. Just because we read the Bible doesn’t mean we will embrace or understand God’s truth. It’s deeper than that…
God must help us or we’ll never see truth. Remember Jesus asked “Who do men say I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ. The Son of the Living God.” Then Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon for flesh & blood did not reveal this to you but My Father who is in heaven…” We need God’s revelation!
The problem with forgiving (Message title) is it doesn’t come natural. Forgiving those who have wounded us is contrary to our nature. But, not forgiving is an offense to God. It might be just me, but I think God is more important than those other things! So what do we do?
Now let’s consider a few things Jesus said about forgiving…
Mt 6:15, If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses… Lk 6:37, Forgive, and you will be forgiven…
Those are not words we can debate or question are they? But we must understand them. Jesus is NOT saying being forgiven is based on forgiving others. It is not PRESCRIPTIVE, it is DESCRIPTIVE. (Pause) What? Let me explain…
When a person forgives AS JESUS DID (Absolutely, completely, without caveats), it is proof that they have been forgiven! (Repeat) The ability to forgive others is a direct result (recognition & embracing) that God has forgiven us of MUCH greater offenses toward Him than anything anyone could do to us. (Do you understand?)
If/when a person will not forgive (Regardless of the offense) it is a strong indicator they have not been forgiven. If they have been forgiven, they can’t do anything BUT forgive others! The point is my offenses toward God are greater than ANYTHING anyone could ever do to me. And since God has forgiven me, who am I not to forgive anyone who has offended me?! (PAUSE)
And it is here we must understand the process… the progression… regarding forgiveness & the Christian life. Aside: When saved we don’t automatically become 100% holy… we grow into it culminating in heaven. In the same way forgiveness of deep wounds is a process, a progression that eventually arrives at forgiving. Please keep that in mind as we continue…
Listen to the Spirit from the Apostles. An unwillingness to forgive is synonymous with “hate.”
1 Jn 2:9 Whoever says he is in the light & hates his brother is still in darkness (Not saved). 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness & walks in the darkness, & does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
1 Jn 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, & you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1 Jn 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” & hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness & wrath & anger & clamor & slander be put away from you, along w/ all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Maybe I’m odd, but I can’t help but believe God overrules my resentment toward others & desire for revenge. If I ignore God’s command I am spitting in His face & believing I know better than He does. Disobedience is not something lite to overlook! *** Time is getting short so let’s move on ***
Now for application regarding forgiveness. First, did we learn to tie our shoes by reading about it? Can you bake a cake by just reading a cookbook? Well, the same thing is true about forgiving! We can read the Bible… agree with it… & nothing changes. Now turn to Ro 12:14 please…
Bless those who persecute you; bless & do not curse them. 19 Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This happens with Holy Spirit implanted love & being supremely loved (saved).
Mt 5:43 You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor & hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
Jn 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Jn 15:12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Here’s the process: Truth… heart… DO… Then repeat as necessary (70 x 7, Mt 18:21-22).
Yes, read God’s truth often! Yes, push it deep into your heart thru prayer. And THEN put love into practice as Jesus said & Paul wrote! And keep on doing it for as long as it takes… relying on the Spirit for help!
Conclusion: Are you forgiven? If you are, you will forgive others. Is there someone who wounded you deeply against whom you carry a grudge or resentment? If so, make a conscious choice tonight to show everyone you ARE a son of God (Mt 5:45 above) by loving that person. Feed them. Give them drink. Pray for their blessing. And leave the rest in God’s hands.
Maybe you’re like the lady I mentioned earlier… Ms. Kathryn. The hurt in your past is so deep you need help. Then ask from Jesus what the demon possessed boy’s dad ask, “HELP MY UNBELIEF!”
very good read, thank you, blessings