In the discussion about forgiveness, numerous aspects of forgiveness have been covered. First, the statement that forgiveness is not an option and how the Word of God actually shows that God requires us to do so. The previous articles stated as to how that can be done, why it must be done, and the results of the completion of forgiveness to others. This 3rd part is being written to address yet another aspect of forgiveness; those who have gone through abject cruelty at some point either in their life as a child or at the hands of another in their adult life or both.
There are many kinds of cruelty in the world and many stories have been written and or heard about abuse and the devastation it placed upon its victims. The reactions or results of abuse can be as different or varied as the individuals involved. But the general result is that the soul suffers a kind of death within itself. The suffering of the soul can even impede learning and emotional development throughout a person’s life; especially if the abuse was perpetrated at a very young age. This aspect of abuse is mentioned in this series of articles because of the deeply rooted damage that occurs with the abuse making forgiveness seemingly insurmountable as well as the many difficulties that crop up in the victim’s ability to handle themselves in relationships later in life. It is usually later in life that an abused child begins to realize where his emotional pain and difficulties stem from in current relationships.
This now brings us to the aspect of forgiveness. Anyone who has suffered tragically at the hands of another, whether as a child or as an adult, has what can feel like a monumental chore to do to be able to obey God’s Word in the area of forgiveness. As it was stated in the first article of this series, forgiveness is a choice and has nothing to do with how one feels about it. But, having said that forgiveness can be a very different journey for the heart of one who has suffered so much and so deeply. The whole process for forgiving someone for a tragic hurt can take more time, much prayer, and even counseling by a Christian-based professional or by a pastor. While Christian-based counseling can certainly be helpful, much greater emphasis should be placed in the direction of prayer groups under the guidance of a pastor and/or healing minister as well. The Word calls for believers to be transformed in the renewing of their minds ( Romans 12:2 ).
It is precisely the renewing of the mind that is so needed for the ability to let go and forgive someone for a tragedy against one’s soul, body, or spirit as well as for the healing to be able to take place. What a believer does when they use the scriptures in this way (think on these things…Phillippians 4:8) is to take a beautiful step forward into the arms of Christ to receive His response to it. A believer can actually sense the presence of a very loving merciful God in the person of Jesus through the power of His Holy Spirit. There can be thoughts and feelings of risk for this step forward (choice) given the past experiences of tragic abuse. But spending time in the Word and in prayer is to spend time with Jesus, Himself, and in time the believer begins to realize that indeed a transformation has taken place. This realization gives way to a sense of freedom, release, sweet joys unspeakable, and a newfound awareness of the passion of a loving God for each of His children.
Forgiveness is not an option is a statement that bears the need to repeat. God commands us to forgive in more than a hundred instances throughout the bible. In one moment Jesus is telling the disciples to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-35). In another he tells them to be kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as He has forgiven them (Ephesians 4:32). In still another Jesus says to bless those who persecute them and not curse them (Romans 12:14). In none of these instances does the Lord say anything about “if you want to” or “if you feel like it” and yet God gives to us in this life, and eternally, based on the fact that he gives us our freedom to choose death or to “choose life” (Deut 28). Forgiveness to many is based upon how they feel about the offense and is determined by the severity of the offense as well.
“But you don’t know what they did..” is one of the most common responses to the topic of forgiveness, or “I won’t give them the satisfaction of it..” Many do not understand that forgiveness has nothing to do with how they feel but everything to do with choice, the effects of that choice upon their own lives and their spiritual growth and destination. Just as it has been said that love is a choice, so it follows that forgiveness is a choice also. God expects us to choose in accordance with what he commands us in his Word.
So, if we are to choose the action of forgiveness, how does one get past all those hurting feelings that are wrapped up in such a choice? What is it that we are choosing anyway? It is simple but hard. The feelings of offense are very powerful. Make no mistake about it. We, in and of ourselves cannot do this. This is truly one of those times that we have to rely upon the Lord and His power. He says that when we are weak, then in Him we are strong ( 2 Cor 12:10). There is direction for this in the Word as well. Jesus says in Philippians 4:8 to think on these things..whatever is pure, lovely, excellent, commendable, worthy of praise.
In Deuteronomy 28 He tells us to choose life. So whenever the thoughts turn to the offense and the pain it causes, make the choice to turn the thoughts to that which is goodin God’s eyes and in accordance to His Word. A powerful prayer for this can be “Lord, I choose as an act of my will to forgive so-and-so ( him or her or them) for whatever the offense is and I ask you to make it real and genuine in my heart”. This sometimes may need to be repeated many times unto feeling as if it were constant and even turning the mind to actually praying for the one who did the offense. This act takes the focus of ones mind off the offense and onto the Lord and lines the heart up with obedience to His Word. God blesses obedience (1 Samuel 15:25) and with diligence and in time His power truly causes the heart to “remember with peace”.
Numerous comments and questions about the previous article, Forgiveness is not an option, has prompted part 2. Many books have been written on the subject so this is not by any means an exhaustive on forgiveness but rather a few pertinent and important insights.
One cannot say enough or stress enough the crucial importance of forgiveness in the life of a believer. As said in the previous article God actually commands us to forgive. Why does God command us to do that which is so difficult to do? Feelings in this area are so powerful. Forgiveness unto salvation and peace and blessings for ourselves would be reason enough to forgive others. But we also release others more effectively into God’s hands as well.
The first and most important aspect of forgiveness is the fact thatwe cannot even have salvation without it. It is clearly the fact that a person realizes that he is a sinner that causes him to even look to a savior to give salvation to him..to alleviate himself of the burden and weight of his sin (Matthew 5:3). After we have come to the Lord and have received our salvation by it, it is then that Jesus says to forgive others as He forgave us in the first place (Ephesians 4:32). It is also clear that we cannot be forgiven of our own day-to-day sins without forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:14-15).
When one walks in the choice to forgive, the focus is taken from the other person and the incident and transferred to the Savior who promises His peace and blessings for obedience (Psalm 1:1-2). His peace that surpasses understanding engulfs us with comfort and joy. We are released. There is a separation that happens between us and the one we need to forgive. It is no longer our problem. We are literally cut loose from them. It’s as if we have taken invisible hands off the other person and given God permission to deal with the offender himself. God does not go against our own will to do such a work. We must release others first even if the offense is so great that it takes much time. The choice to do so is the first step that begins the process of healing.
This release of an offender through the choice to forgive also brings blessings into our lives. We are all in need of allowance for our own behaviors and thoughts and God promises that in whatever measure we use he will give back to us. If we are of a giving and forgiving spirit we will certainly reap what we sow into the lives of others. If we give forgiveness to others who have offended us, others will in turn forgive us. God promises that He, Himself will bless us with heavenly joys as well as earthly ones into our bosom and life (Luke 6:38)… pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.
So look into the Word. It’s Jesus. Contemplate the verses given there and others you may find. If you don’t have a bible it would be good to get one. If that isn’t possible, look online. There is a myriad of resources online.
Forgiveness comes to us and must flow from us in order to come back to us.
The Word of God speaks to the Church as clearly being the Bride of Christ.
Revelation 19: 7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.
Ephesians 5: 25-27 Husbands, love your wives (your bride), even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with the water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
The scriptures are filled with many references to the church as being made up of the saints who are devoted and living for Jesus Christ, the One true God. As Jesus was presented as the Lamb for sacrifice without spot or wrinkle, the church also is to be found ready without spot or wrinkle for the time that Jesus, the Bridegroom, would come to take her home to dwell with Him forever.
BUT.. let us remember the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Five were ready to meet the groom five were not ready. Five entered into the wedding feast and five did not enter. In fact, Jesus said He did not even know them (anymore).
This article is not to prove or disprove the soon return of the Lord. It is for those who already believe or know that He is coming soon and yet, it is also for those who either think or know that they belong to Christ and that they will go with Him regardless of whether or not they live in ready-mode. There is a unique thing that happens when one lives on the edge of his seat for an event to come about as compared with the attitude that the events are in the someday realm of everyday life.
Every woman can relate to what she does when she has a specific event soon to happen in her home. She goes into to ready-mode (some more than others) to spiff up every detail of organization and cleanliness so as to have the place of meeting or celebration just so and to please her guests in every way. The desire is to have everything possible in its proper place and for her home to shine at its best.
The return of the Lord for His Bride is the same; to have everything in it’s proper place (in the heart) before the Bridegroom returns. This getting ready and to be always prepared is what the Lord expects of His followers to be able to be worthy of escape (Luke 21: 36). To be worthy is to have an honor bestowed in the giving of this gift. Honor is to be received by a performance that readies the receiver to it.
What is the performance needed to escape?
Both sets of virgins fell asleep as they waited for the bridegroom. The huge difference between the two is the oil of readiness and desire to follow the Lord. The foolish virgins allowed their oil to be consumed by time (the delay of the Lord) and the flame of life. The wise virgins’ lamps were burning but their oil of readiness to follow had not been depleted as denoted by the extra flask of oil to keep the desire and readiness alive. The flame must be fed and there must be plenty of oil to get the job done.
Do not be late for this very important date!
Many people preparing for a wedding feast would certainly welcome any latecomers to the wedding event. But we are not talking about just any event here. We are really talking about the ultimate wedding feast of all time and eternity. God requires only one thing from us to be able to enter into the celebration. He wants us to want the coming of His Kingdom more than we want anything else in this life. If He finds that our eyes and affections are fixed on the things of this world then we are not worthy to escape. He will tell you as you strive to enter in with pleading and crying, “I do not know you.”
A word to the wise
Hunger and thirst for the Kingdom of God and the return of the Lord. Do not be or do as Lot’s wife when she turned to look back towards what she was leaving behind. The Word of God says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”(1Corinthians 2:9). Keep your eyes and heart focused on being only with the Lord and give your heart to the imagining of the next life with Christ in Heaven. This is so crucial and you do not want to miss it for the World, pun intended. It will require a vigilance that certainly gives you a ticket out of here before the Great Tribulation. Only a devoted bride will leave here when the Lord comes for her.
Yes, the Bride of Christ is also called to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-18). She is a warrior in the trenches of the warfare of prayer. She is disposed to doing the works of God as presented to her in her daily life. The men and women of God are to be of sound mind or self control as well as devoted to the thoughts of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Keeping your boots laced up with a devotion to the Lord and His Kingdom will keep you ready for that Great Day as well as the trials that are soon to come to our Nation and the World. God is allowing a great shaking to come upon the World and our Nation to bring His people back to Him with a renewed fervor and devotion that will save them. It will also bring the hearts of many who do not know Him to their knees to seek Him for safety and salvation. Many do not even realize that they don’t really know Him.
Prepare for the worst and the best
Prepare your hearts for the worst that this world has ever seen. Prepare for the best that this world has ever seen in the Rapture of the Bride of Jesus Christ. If anyone is left behind whether by default or being chosen by the Lord to do so, be prepared for the greatest outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit that the World has ever seen. All good things for God’s people depends upon the devotion and diligence that has been stated here. Each and every day things are speeding up even more. Be on the side of being the Bride of Christ. Walk in the devotion of the Lord and His Kingdom. Be consumed with it. Let all things of this world fall away by comparison. Dwell on the next life and what God has planned for you to do now and in the future. It will be glorious here and in the world to come. Don’t miss the free gift of ESCAPE (Luke 21:36) from the Great Tribulation which will begin when the Bride of Christ is raptured out of here. There will be a great harvesting of souls during the great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. If you keep your boots laced up and your devotion keen by praying to be made worthy of escape, it will be the most glorious event in all of the history of the World!