by Pastor Tim Burt
How long has it been since someone offended you and made you mad and upset? We all face conflicts of some kind, and they are never a pleasant experience. We may or may not handle them well at the time. We often reenact them in our minds, reviewing the replays to find justification for how we handled the encounter. It’s as though we have this digital recorder playing the conflict on an automatic loop.
Jesus knew we would come to those instant replay moments. This is why He gave instructions to forgive so many times in a day. We see this in Matthew 18:21-22 NIV. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
We will never find ourselves being offended 490 times in one day. Jesus knew that. So why did He say 490 times? Because He knew that we would run the same offense over and over in our minds—even after we attempt to forgive the one who offended us. When the evening comes and it’s quiet and nothing else is going on, that mental digital recorder seems to play an even more vivid picture and will play all night—490 times if you let it go on.
We’re instructed to keep forgiving and so we try. We try to forgive someone in our minds and try to move on. But, we then face those awkward moments and negative feelings again when we see or get around the offender. Then we’re in a quandary because we thought we’d forgiven them but feel the opposite. Does that mean we didn’t forgive them? It might! Even if we do say we forgive someone, we usually and inwardly want our view of what happened to be understood with a resolution. Don’t panic at that statement! That doesn’t mean you have to go face the person.
In many cases, it’s not always possible. If you were the offender, you should try to go to the person and work it through—humbly and with the sincere goal of not rehashing the incident but trying to reconcile. But when someone has hurt you, you can’t make them come to you and apologize. And most won’t! And that is where the anger and bitter feelings will set in if you don’t resolve it at least for yourself.
You can’t make another person do anything, but you can follow the Lord and fix yourself. And so, if you’ve been offended by someone, and you probably know they aren’t going to apologize to you about it, that means you have to forgive and talk and pray this through with the Lord until those negative feelings are gone. And in all likelihood, that will take effort and be a process. And it might not work and the relationship may never be the same. But, it’s not an option! It’s serious and shouldn’t be treated lightly because the Bible teaches that unforgiveness hinders the answer to prayer and hinders one’s relationship with God until forgiveness has happened. In Matthew 5:44 (NKJV) Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
We live in a world where the tides of anger and unforgiveness are rising. People are angry and bitter at people that they don’t even know. To be honest, that’s crazy and means there is a whole lot of immaturity in the development of character, and judging going on. People lob offensive terms and labels at people they don’t even know, just to have the last word. Does that sound like Jesus to you? Christians are called to look at people with love and through God’s eyes—thinking and hoping the best and routinely overlooking offense—not seeing others through judgmental subjections and preconceived ideas. Christians need to grow up! Hate, anger, bitterness, disrespect, and unforgiveness are NOT a part of the Christian life. No more making excuses for crappy attitudes and wrong behaviors. Make it end today!
Unforgiveness leads to bitterness that will result in anger issues and left undealt with and unchecked, it will lead to sickness and disease and every evil work of Satan to destroy your life. That’s why Satan loves strife! It is the playground of destruction! I’m being hard this morning but I know it’s necessary. It is a deception to believe you can go on with life and with God as though everything was okay. Unforgiveness is never okay with God. Fellowship with God is impaired until forgiveness is given. Mark 11:25-26 says, “And whenever you stand praying if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Why do we have to forgive? The reason Jesus came to the earth to die and pay the price for our sins was that He was willing to forgive you and me. That is what love does! If you love Jesus and He is Lord over your life, then that is what you also do!
When you find yourself in this place, pray and ask God to help you. If you ever want to take your life, marriage, relationships, and interactions with other people to another level of blessing, you’ll have to learn and work through this process. More next time…
Mat 5:23-25 says, “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly….”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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