If there is one-act or philosophy that believers should implement into their lives that is drastically from the world’s philosophy is the act of forgiveness. After all Jesus in Matthew chapter 18 challenges the believer to forgive our brother when he wrongs us, “seventy times seven.” This is a totally different approach and approach than the world’s philosophy teaches. The world’s philosophy teaches phrases such as “get even” or “I will never talk to that person again.” These are the reactions and responses that the world’s philosophy expects us to respond with. Now, when someone hurts or wrongs you deeply, how do you respond. Do you respond like Jesus commanded you too, or do you respond with phrases such as “get even” or “I hope to never see that person again?” I am talking about deep hurt that affected you emotionally deep down. Today, I want to give you a few thoughts on forgiveness that I have learned, and I want to use some personal transparency behind this post.
After Bible College, I was able to become the full-time youth pastor at my home church. This was a high honor and privilege for me especially at the church that I had grown up in. Well to make a long story short, we had to get a new pastor after I had been there for 2 years, and the church eventually split. I left hurt, broken, bitter and frustrated with church and its pastor. So, many of these points will be drawn from this situation.
You mean, you as the pastor became bitter? How can you be bitter and be a pastor? Trust me, I ask this question still to this day. I wondered how I even did ministry or better yet why God allowed me to do ministry every day with the frustration that I had. Well, after being at a new position for a little over a year, the Lord totally broke me! I will never forget sitting in my office praying, and God just outlined my sin for me. ‘But God, he did this” is how I would respond, but God totally responded, “but you’re doing this.” I realized that I was just as guilty in my unforgiveness and bitterness! I broke and wept for my sin. I then decided to send an email to the pastor to apologize for my wrong, and to make things totally right between the two of us. We did, and our relationship has literally been great ever since. I mean how often do you get the chance to speak a couple of times at the church where you were part of the church splitting? Yeah, that was forgiveness and reconciliation at its finest! I want to give you a few thoughts that I learned through this:
- Pride is the key factor in unforgiveness– If you have someone in your life who you are bitter at, the root of your unforgiveness is PRIDE! I had pride. I did not think I did, but boy did I have some pride. I had too much pride to give into this situation, because I inwardly felt like doing so would cause the people who wronged me to win, and me to lose. I felt if I forgive and forget, they win. That is pride plain and simple.
- Forgiveness is for you– I was stuck with bitterness and frustration, and the pastor that I was frustrated at was growing God’s church, and growing in the Lord. My forgiveness was not for that person, but it was for me. Bitterness is a cancer, and it was eating away at me. Unforgiveness was tearing me up, and I had to forgive for me, not anyone else.
- Forgiveness comes from a relationship with God– Biblical forgiveness is a result of a life that has been radically forgiven by Jesus. I came to myself and realized that if Jesus forgave me, then, there is nothing that anyone can do to me that I cannot forgive.
- Forgiveness brings a restored relationship– If you are not willing to sit and eat with someone who has wronged you, you have not forgiven them. You may have moved on in some areas, but that is not total forgiveness. Total Biblical forgiveness is being able to sit and grow a relationship with a person that has wronged you or someone who you have wronged. I can say that I have a GREAT relationship with the pastor that we had a fallen out with. I talk and text him regularly. I pray for him regularly. I am not now riding by the church hoping that they struggle or fail, but now instead because of Biblical forgiveness praising God for the spiritual growth and life change that is happening in that very church!
- In many cases the hurt person is not totally innocent– This hit me hard. Some things happened in our church that literally was not my fault. Then, I and others became upset, and gossiped. Gossip is just as wrong as the initial sin, right? We end up by being hurt, sin ourselves. By the way, if you are living with unforgiveness right now, it is impossible to be totally right with God! Yes, that is true, it is impossible to be right with God, and be wrong with your brother at the same time. So, I did ministry for a year not right with God, yeah according to the Bible. I am afraid many people in church are doing this, and not humbling themselves and make things right with others.
So, who are you bitter too? Maybe it is a pastor, a church leader, an old friend, a father who left, or someone else? Make things right for you today! Forgive them, because you have been forgiven by Jesus of a much greater wrong.
The power of forgiveness is found in Jesus!