“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7 KJV
I come to you this Sunday morning with what might first appear as a ‘heavy-going’ topic, in actual fact, this is written to continue to set us free & make us Light in every sense of the word. Bare with me please because I have been trying to send this out for sometime (all week actually) & when I have been writing, God has been revealing new things to me through His Holy Spirit, taking me deeper & wading in waters I tried to not delve into.
Forgiveness means we are set free but if we do not choose to forgive we remain ‘stuck’. Stuck in our anger, stuck in our hurt, stuck in our bitterness, stuck in that futile cycle of pain. Mercy is the underlying principle of forgiveness, it is a Kingdom of God Principle. It is actually a synonym of forgiveness. Jesus set the ultimate example of forgiveness by laying down His life & forgiving us, He spoke with assuring & without controversy “Father, forgive them for they know not, what they do” His mercy overflowed for you & I. He knew we would continue to sin & do wrong, so He spoke in the present tense. He knows also, that we would seek His mercy once the word of God penetrates the stubbornnes of our stoney hearts. My heart had become a fortress of vexation, I didn’t even realise it slithered this way after the initial action of hurt. But there is no doubt that with a contrite heart, we are forgiven & because we have been shown mercy by Jesus Christ, we must also show mercy.
God has such a sense of humour, He decided to expose me today. Sometime ago a good friend did me an injustice & it wounded me so deeply. Having all these thoughts in my head I said “I’m not going to have anything to do with him”, thinking this was the best & principled thing to do. Thinking I was right in my actions & really justified too. Alas, as the days rolled on & weeks became months I distanced myself from the circle of places I knew my ‘friend’ would be at, even Church events. As time went on, The Holy Spirit convicted me in my heart, not to forgive my friend – I was probably expecting that; but to show me all the human times I, had been forgiven by others. It was a nice reminder at first but as God put the brokenness of my wrongs on His wheel & showed me in clear, reflection, it wasn’t pleasant anymore, in fact, it stunk. God was not reminding me of my sin, He showed where His love covered my sins by allowing those around me to show me mercy. I didn’t dare then, think of the innumerable, undiluted times God Himself, had forgiven me & shown me such unmerited, tender mercy & grace. You see, we are all fallible & our hearts imperfect. We all fall short but with the love of God in our hearts, the power of His love moves us to forgive with sincere compassion. I decided there & then that I was going to call my friend & talk about the situation & I was going to tell him some ‘truths’ then I’d ‘forgive’ him because I’m a Christian! But that is not what God would have me do. Here comes Gods humouros side, laughing at my plans! As I was leaving a petrol station I had to wait for traffic to allow me out; for a while no one stopped in true drivers ‘inconsiderate’ fashion – (hands up ✋?) I’m guilty of that too! but then someone slowed down to let me out & as I turned to thank the driver who kindly stopped, I saw it was my ‘friend’. In that instance my heart filled with hurt & though I thanked him quickly & as I pulled out to turn right, I avoided full eye contact with him, unintentionally almost skidding Formula1-style, to get away from that uncomfortable scene, sharpish! I knew then & there, that I had not even forgiven the actions he had done. Not one bit. The mirror of my anger towards him still, stared me in my face. A sickness filled me at that awareness & I began to cry. God knew my act to call him was insincere in all the areas which it needed to be sincere. I had to dig deep & so, in that very moment, I took my disingenuous-self humbly to God & exposed, I was honest with my Father Jesus. I said “Lord this is a tough thing to do- why did you let me see him? Im sorry God. You are greater than anything. Show me how to get passed this. Show me how to forgive, this is really hurting me and I’m angry both with him & myself. I actually don’t know how to get over this & I’m angry that it still makes me feel so hurt. Thank you for Your Presence”.
You see, forgiveness is often not, what we do to the other person or situation, we forgive so that the bitter root of hatred does not entwine itself in our hearts & choke any God-given fruit we have or must bare. We do it so we are not deceived by thinking ‘we are right’ therefore we stay broken by what has happened to us. Nothing can grow where thistles & thorns are & this is what unforgiveness, malice, hatred, negativity or unkindness does. It chokes our heart from feeling & loving. It hardens our hearts like Pharoah & it drains us into submission & depression. Unforgiveness also causes us to become ill or to struggle with healing because we have not let go of the bitterness & our energy is mis-spent by being consumed with the hurt & ‘how we can get back at that person’ to make them ache, as much as we do. It’s a inscenant record on ‘repeat’ in our heart & mind; & the enemy etches away, digging at us, at our moral fibre of mercy & compassion & we ‘play ball’ with him on this one. “You’re a fool if you talk to them again!”; “Look how they treated you!”; They hate you that’s why they did it!”; “They saw you coming..!” “This one you just can’t forgive!” The enemy is relentless as he ups the ante on the mind games, the scars & wounds we are hurt by, opening them wider. Prodding the sores of our hurt in our minds & it causes us to react. Plasters can’t help, we need intricate surgery by The Holy Spirit but sadly of course, we don’t see it. We stay in pity & anger, the prisoner of our negative thoughts & get ready to battle nastily with hatred as our defence. We need to change our mindset, I hadn’t though. I was stuck but The Holy Spirit whispered to be “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind”Ephesians 4:23
As the day went on God continued to minister to my soul in multiplicitous ways & as I tuned into the radio the Scripture was “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” 2Tim4:14 KJV God spoke directly to me, “whatever it is,” He said in that still moment “I am in charge, I will repay”; I needed to only continue on the path He first set & the example He laid for me – to forgive without conditions. Forgiveness is “the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven” it’s in the doing.
In prayer meeting the next day – you may call it ‘house meeting’, the word of God, before we began a series of prayers; was from Philemon 1:18 “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account” I was convicted in my heart as I read that Paul wrote to Philemon asking him to forgive & receive Onesimus who had run away from slavery from Philemon, having stolen from him & maybe did other wrongs including absconding & obviously, disobedience but he had met Paul whilst on the run & over time, changed his ways to become a ‘valuable brother in Christ’ & sharing the Gospel. The Master Potter Jesus Christ, put Onesimus back on the wheel & remoulded him, working out the cracks, the disobedience, the lies, the stealing, maybe arrogance & dishonesty, hatred towards his master & colleagues, fellow slaves- a fugitive now. God changed his path, holding him, moisturising him with His love, breaking up his stoney heart, making him pliable to the Word of the God & He sent Onesimus in a different direction to the wicked one he was continuing to go down. “Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself..” We can assume or not, what the ending is but Paul spoke to the heart of Philemon as being one who stood & loved Christ, to do what was right. We know forgiving, the actual doing part of the word, the action, is right but we at times choose– yes ‘choose’, the doing part of the word, the action, not to. Maybe as in my case, it was hurt & pride; it may be in your case humiliation; anger; disbelief or denial, apathy even. When all is said & done, unforgiveness damages our soul more than it does the person who has wronged us because of what negativity we harbour inside. We can not have inner peace because we think of what’s been done by that person or organisation at times, maybe all the time & it grinds us down.
I read the same quote on two separate occasions leading up to me caving in & admitting to myself that I still hadn’t let go; “Forgiveness is like drinking poison & expecting the person who wronged us to be affected by it..” Nelson Mandela & Chuck Swindle. I then read a pamphlet handed to me, “Five Minutes Of Madness, A Lifetime Of Regret’ it is written by Ray & Vi Donovan, who forgave the murderers who killed their son Christopher & now they work in the field of Restorative Justice with Victims & offenders, much like the offenders who cruelly took their son. This is what the love of God looks like & it is only by the love of God in them & their obedience to His Word that they acted. I could only think Lord, “if they can do that, why am I still struggling with this?” You can ask God why? He will answer. I did. And He did answer me. “Lord You are determined that I hear You” & I did. I had chosen not to forgive. Pure & simple & it was costing me. I though, wanted forgiveness. Every day I pray for forgiveness; for my conscious & unconscious sins- it had become generic. I was failing to see it though. What wasted time I had spent being insanely consumed with anger, instead of letting go & letting God deal with it that & I couldn’t see the damage I was doing to myself. The longest journey to freedom is ourself recognising it. Not using Godly wisdom. Admitting it. Repentance. The Word of God convicted & chastised me as a Father does His child & Mentor to a pupil & then He spoke to me as a friend. I received this simple, yet powerful quote humbly, in my spirit after trying to justify why I was right to stay hurt & pretend I had forgiven. God sees the inward parts of our heart. Nothing is hidden from Him. Nothing; “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” 1 Corinthians 2:10 Unforgiveness & hatred (it can cause us to hate, you know this) is not of God.
A few nights after I watched a film based on a book called “The Hiding Place” it was called “Return To The Hiding” about Cornelia (Corrie) ten Boom a watchmaker, who saved over 800 souls passing through her underground command-centre which she made in her home in Haarlem, Holland. The film told the story of Hans Poley who aided her being part of her “Teenage Army” She was also the lady who forgave the two Nazi soldiers who worked in the very same Concentration Camp which killed so many people including her family members. She returned to Germany in 1946, and when she met two Germans who had been employed at Ravensbruck, one of whom was particularly cruel, she could not believe that God ‘expected’ her to forgive this man after the heinous crimes he was apart of & to her family too but she had to. Jesus forgave us and moved on, our sins & wrongs are “thrown into the sea of forgetfulness as far as the East is from the West”, we are to do the very same, honest thing and hand over to Him all the feelings that go with it, especially our honest struggles to forgive. He will work on our hearts as clay on The Potter’s wheel, breaking up the stubborn parts & remoulding the hurt parts by His healing loving hands. God dealt with me in a process so delicate that all was clearly revealed. How you ask? Jesus knows what to do & how to help you. He knows just what ‘ingredients’ of the Holy Spirit you need, different to mine maybe, to get you through those issues. You maybe experiencing multiple wrongs against you, I’m sorry you have gone through that. But ALL amount to the same response & resolution, we must forgive. Unforgiveness keeps us bound, sometimes so tight as a cog, we think if we let go of it we would fall apart. I will tell you this for certain, it suffocates all that is good; it contorts our looks; our bodies get sick under the strain of it, our hearts suffer enormous grief carry it; sadly & most importantly, the fruit in us dies because the love & light of God is not being nourished in our hearts. What flows through our veins is bitterness & this is a toxin our body was not designed to have pumped through it, it does not need it.
Admit it then. Confess with our hearts & “Jesus is able & just to forgive” & will show us how in deeper depth, to go to that place in His love, where He stood for our sins, in order to forgive. Why so many atrocities & wrongs, such perverness occurs, around the world & right in here, in our own Country, in our own families & lives even, is because of unforgiveness. We are an aching, immensely hurting & sadly because of it, dying world but Jesus came that ‘we might have life & have more abundantly’– to the fullest in His love & Light. Isn’t this so much better than being contorted & controlled by the anger & hatred unforgiveness brings? Trudging through misery & smelling the smog animosity brings, ingesting it, instead of walking through the fields of flowers & ingesting Gods love? “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (anger)” Ephesians 4:26 As difficult as it may be, We must deal with it, sooner rather than later & forgive. The consequences if not, is you let the enemy move in:“Neither give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:27 God showed me why I needed to show mercy, why I needed to forgive. It changed me.
If today you are struggling with unforgiveness, like I have & at times feel myself treading towards, come to Jesus & tell Him. He is really easy to talk to I promise. It could be a friend who has hurt you, a work Colleague (s), Employers, Organisation, maybe you’ve experienced harsh treatment by a company and in anger, everyone who works there is at the receiving end of your hurt & your tongue! It could be closer, maybe a family member, a sibling, your spouse – even your parents. Whoever it is, you can & (I will challenge you as I did myself), you must forgive. Like me, it may take a time of reflection & confession within yourself – a process & I wished I had not wasted such valuable time in my life holding onto that hurt but God will help us. He is here. Trust Him & obey, our lives will be richer for it; Jesus has set us free, why must you be bound? Why then are we becoming prisoners of unforgiveness? “He who the Son sets free, is free indeed” #fact!
We at LPCF open our arms to pray with you or you can email any queries or concerns you may have. We are here to listen & help. Today choose love, choose life. Choose to be free. Be blessed in Jesus name,