Recently, someone asked me how to handle a person who had treated them badly. In summary, the individuals lived in the same apartment building and had a misunderstanding. Overtime, one party continued to speak and greet when passing; while the other party growled and often remained silent.
"This person totally did me wrong, but I continue to speak and get nothing but silence and dirty looks. How long am I to subject myself to this treatment, especially if they show no interest at all in communicating with me?"
This is the cry of a believer as they shared with me a few months ago. I had to admit that the question made me reflect on my ow heart and ask myself, if I had truly forgiven those who had hurt me in my past. Better yet, I wondered if I was truly forgiven of them?
I knew that I had not the wisdom to honestly tackle this but we had to go to the word of God where perfect wisdom exists. God did not give us Mark 11:25 just to take up space.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
"TURN THE TABLES"
It is not easy and it is not something that the FLESH wants to do. Offenses can come in many different forms and to the one offended, it is seemingly theirs to measure. But its not our will but God's will MUST trump our feelings and desires to hold on to the offense.
OKAY, you say. Where do I being? Well, you have to start with prayer, you must go to the Father and search his word and let his word search your heart.
You have to turn the mirror on yourself. You have to look at your own life, your own actions, your thoughts and your relationship with the almighty God. Ask yourself these questions: Are you worthy? Have you lived a perfect sinless life? Should God have forgiven you? Also, remember, you cannot measure SIN. Gossip and spite are just and evil as murder, fornication, hate, unbelief and unforgiveness. All is SIN before God, who is holy.
I know right now, that might be tough to swallow and I know you probably want to search scripture to find affirmation that one sin is greater than another but its true, all SIN leads ultimately to the death of something and must be dealt with.
THINK ON THIS
What if God wiped you out, or required your life before you had a chance to repent? What if God said, you have sinned and will continue to sin so I'm not forgiving you and I'm not making provision for you to be forgiven.
That would have doomed us all. But God according to 1 John 1:9, "if we confess sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us." So, if someone has offended and has asked to be forgiven, do it quick. If someone refuses acknowledge the offense and continues to offend, forgive and allow God to handle the situation. And woe unto them if they refuse to change. God is not mocked, neither will he always be patient. Galatians 6:7 indeed lets us know that a "man will reap what he he sows."
But you as a believer must cleanse your heart. Don't put yourself in harms way, but do not do evil for evil. Again, continue to pray, allow God to work.
The forgiveness you give another means you hold them no longer in debt for their words or actions with bitterness and hatred. It does not mean they won't have to be accountable for these things but it means whatever your engagement with them might be, it is not out of a cruel or hateful heart on your end.
Forgiveness is instant but the fruit doesn't spring overnight!
TRUE STORY: A believing wife was verbally abused by her husband for years. Even though they both attended church and looked happy on the outside, their home life was a horrible mess. One day, the husband got so angry he began to physically attack his wife. She called the police and the husband was arrested.
While sitting in jail, he asked her forgiveness, as he always did. The wife forgave him but she knew that he would act out again eventually. He needed help and was only asking because he wanted out of jail. This time, the wife knew that reconciliation at this time was unwise and possibly dangerous.
The husband was confused. "If she forgave me, why can't we get back, together? he thought. He became angrier and bitter.
Also, the husband, had to pay for his crime, his SIN. He actually spent time in prison and had to get help for his anger issues.
Fast forward, it took years for this marriage to be restored because as the husband grew in the Lord the faithful wife became bitter and angry when she started to think about what she had been through. Yes, she wanted her husband to be healed, truly saved and transformed, but something inside of her wanted her own price of FLESH.
But glory be to GOD. The wife, continued in the word. She began to understand that forgiveness is instant but the fruit does not spring up overnight and that we must guard our hearts to ensure the tares don't entangle what the Lord has planted.
Friends the couple is this story are real and they did eventually reconcile but only after many years. Now Christ shines bright in their marriage of almost 42 years. They share their story with friends, strangers and now grandchildren. They also realize that only the Holy Spirit is able to keep each of them as they both enjoy the fruit of forgiveness.
Note: If you or someone you know is being physically abused, please get help. Talk to the Lord who is a protector. Also use wisdom and the resources provided: You can call : 800-799-7233 the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Remember, it is not God's will that anyone ensure brutality and abuse; that is not of God but a lie of the devil. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;