This week, while at a women's conference, I listened to a message on forgiveness. It did not center upon our need for God to forgive us. It was about our need to forgive others. Whenever I hear a message about forgiveness, my mind always goes back to a particular time when God taught me about forgiveness.
I do not speak of this incident unless God prompts me to do so in order to help others who may be struggling with the issue of forgiving others. For the protection of others, I cannot go into specifics except to say that many years ago someone paid for a criminal act they committed against myself and others.
About 14 years after the incident, God spoke to me about it. I don't know about you but generally when God has a "chat" with me, I am not in church or even praying. Usually, I am going about my business with my mind on something else and suddenly I am asked, "The Question" which abruptly stops me in my tracks. Where did that come from? This time I was uh... in the bathtub. It is hard to get away from "The Question" asked by God when one is in the bathtub. Needless to say, God had my full attention.
"Why have you not forgiven, yet?"
Notice that God did not have to tell me what I had not forgiven. If I had been asked about this individual specifically, I would have answered that I had forgiven them but God didn't ask that. When He brought up the topic of unforgiveness... sigh... I knew exactly what He was talking about. God does not beat around the bush. He gets straight to the point and He demands an answer.
I began to blubber about how I had forgiven this person. God was not fooled for a moment for regardless of what I said, He could see my heart and what He saw was Unforgiveness had quietly taken up residence there. He also brought along some friends. Let me introduce you to a few of them. Their names are Bitterness, Self-Righteousness, Pride, Anger, Self-Pity, Revenge and Self-Justification. Have you ever encountered them as well?
Often times, they like to throw a big party when they all get together. They like to make a lot of noise and attract a lot of attention. However, we fail to realize that sometimes they like to just settle in and relax nice and quiet-like, hoping that you will not notice that they have moved in. Truthfully, I hadn't noticed them but God had and it was high time I served an eviction notice, effective immediately!
I attempted to assure God that there was some mistake. I had forgive them. The enemy showed up to be "help" me present my case and shoved a fat evidence file into my hand. Relieved, I opened the file (thoughtfully provided by the enemy) and presented my case to God.
"And so, as you can clearly see, I have indeed forgiven this person..." I paused dramatically as I triumphantly snapped the file shut. "And as soon as they ask me, I will tell them so."
Pleased with my argument, I looked up and suddenly got a very uneasy feeling that something was wrong. In fact, God seemed to be... smiling. He had a question. Just one question and that question was. "When did I forgive you?"
The enemy started to look extremely nervous and started to shout, "When you asked! When you asked!"
I started to say that but do you know what? When God asks you a question, you have no choice but to answer Him truthfully. You might not like the truth. You might not accept it as the truth but you cannot lie to God nor can you refuse to answer Him.
In 1968, I fell to my knees before God, confessed that I was a sinner and repented and asked Him to forgive me. That was the day I became born again and acknowledged and laid claim to God's forgiveness. However, the reality was forgiveness was given at Calvary for while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me.
There was silence for awhile as I took all of this in. I hung my head for I understood that true forgiveness does not wait until someone seeks it. True forgiveness is given whether the offending party asks for it... or not.
"But what if they never ask for it?" I whispered. The moment the words left my lips, I knew the answer. That was none of my affair. It was between them and God for ultimately the one we sin against is not one another... it is God.
Tears began to roll down my face as I realized two things. First of all, though forgiveness had not been sought, I had to forgive right then and there and leave the rest up to God. Secondly, I realized I couldn't do it. What was I to do?
I was gently reminded that though I in myself could not do it, Christ within me could. Would I take the first step and trust Him to help me?
At that moment I realized that my fists were clenched. Could I... would I open them?
In all honesty, it was hard to open them. It was very hard but I knew that if I didn't, Unforgiveness and all of his friends would slowly destroy me. Worse yet, it would separate me from God and I didn't want that. You see... I wanted God more than I wanted Unforgiveness and his cohorts.
I made the choice to unclench my fists and God took care of the rest. Tears of joy flowed down my cheeks as Unforgiveness and his friends were abruptly thrown out of my heart and Forgiveness, Love, Joy, Compassion and all of the rest moved in.
That was more than 25 years ago. No, that person has never sought forgiveness from me personally but I am very thrilled to say that I know they sought forgiveness from God. They have suffered a great deal as the result of their crime and their family has suffered as well. At the same time, God has healed them from the inside out and they are a living testimony of how a life can be transformed by God.
Unforgiveness destroys but forgiveness heals. We must forgive as God forgives us. There is no other option.
Photo Credit: http://flic.kr/p/3ghYNw
[quote]True forgiveness is given whether the offending party asks for it... or not.[/quote] . Belfast High Court Wed 8th May . I fear that when I see face to face the man who terrorised my daughter I may realise I have not forgiven him.
I have prayed today that God will give me the grace to forgive him. I am commanded to. There is no other option.
Joyce Meyer has been teaching on this same subject this week.
I know that forgiveness hurts you more than the one you are angry with. Been there done that. But it is such a relief when you can bring yourself to God and ask him to help you truly forgive.
Enjoyed this blog.
In 2005, after years of being miserable, God worked within me to once and for all root out the seeds of bitterness within my heart placed there by selfish people who lied to me, used me and abused me while I was serving in the ministry. Despite my pleas to not do it, I was led to start praying for these people. Initially those prayers were short and heartless but in time they became prayers for mercy and blessings. It is then that I realized that I had indeed forgiven these people and no longer held a grudge against them.
It took me flying to New York in April of 2005 to receive some counseling from an old friend before I was able and willing to forgive the man who had destroyed my ministry and life. I remember how hard it was to forgive yet I remember the flood of God's warmth in my soul when I did. Although the man was long dead and gone, I knew that I never needed to waste another moment harboring anger or bitterness toward his memory.
Forgiveness does indeed break the chains of bondage and in so doing brings us a freedom in our hearts that is beyond description.
Thanks for reminding us again of this great truth.
Blessings 2 You!