The week before last I mentioned three keys to walking in the abundant life. This is about walking in more fullness in our faith, intimacy with God and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been showing me some new insights to one of these in particular and the enemy has been determined to keep me from sharing them, which just affirms how important they are! (I just shake my head at his stupidity at times.) But I will not relent, my SUM family. As I’ve said before, I want all of us to have the life God has planned and purposed for us.
These three keys are forgiveness, love and thankfulness. There’s a lot in the Bible about all of these and we’ve addressed the importance of forgiveness and love a fair bit in the past. It’s thankfulness that I’m learning is very instrumental to breakthroughs, but we must cover forgiveness and love to get there. These three keys build upon each other and go hand in hand.
As SUMites, I believe we have a deeper sense of what forgiveness means. We live it in profound ways every day. But just to be sure we have a firm foundation in this area, let’s look at a couple Scriptures.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. — Matthew 6:14
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. — Luke 17:3
One of the meanings in for the Greek word to forgive (aphiēmi) means to send away. When we entertain the wrong and mull over the harm done to us, we hold onto it and it festers like a disease. I remember my daughter once being so mad at someone that she said, “I’m not going to forgive her. I don’t have to.”
I wanted so much to say, “Yes, you do. God’s Word says so,” but at the moment those words would have sounded condemning. Even though my heart was for my daughter and I understood her feelings, I didn’t want her to walk in any unforgiven state in her life.
I’ve heard the statement frequently that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the person you are angry with to die from it. When we forgive we relinquish our right to bring justice and we give it to God. He is our justifier, my friends, and He will fight for us (Ex. 14:14). Trust Him to do so. I promise you, His way will reveal the beauty of who He created you to be. Any other way is just death—death to the heart, the spirit and the soul. And even the body if left to fester.
Forgiveness is a choice. Sometimes we can choose not to take offense when we realize the hurt was not truly targeted at us directly, but when the harm is targeted at us, it’s vital to our health, our faith, and our relationships to choose to forgive. God will work in us the moment we make that choice to bring our feelings into alignment and heal our wounded heart.
Let me share an example with you. Years ago I became so frustrated with a close friendship that I was ready to walk away from it. I will tell you that I’m a very loyal person so for me to get to the point tells you that I was carrying some deep hurts and unforgiveness from years of repetitive hurts.
One Spring morning I sat before God looking for peace to walk away from this relationship. Instead God told me not to. He said, “I want you to pray for her.”
Here I was looking for an easy way out (what I thought was an easy way out) of this situation and instead God gave me an assignment. Grudgingly I obeyed and began praying for her every morning. At first my prayers were pretty basic, “Bless her, Lord.”
Then my prayers became more heartfelt as I began to realize that she never intended to hurt me. She hurt those around her because of her own deep hurts and wounds. I began to pray for those areas for her, for healing and deliverance from strongholds.
My friends, by the end of the summer, not only had I forgiven her for everything I had perceived as hurtful, but my heart was full of love and compassion for her. God completely turned my heart around. I was able to remain friends with this person out of the love God grew in my heart for her with some key differences.
- My love was now empowered by God’s love.
- My expectations were now to simply love her as she was, not according who I expected her to be as a friend.
- I’d released my expectations of her and now sought those needs from God.
Does this sound familiar? This is so foundational to all our relationships, especially to our mismatched marriages.
- We love our pre-believers through the love of Jesus.
- We see our pre-believers as Jesus sees and loves them.
- We release our pre-believers from unrealistic expectations and seek God for those needs.
Did you catch how forgiveness leads to love? Sometimes forgiveness brings the relationship to a whole new level of growth and closeness. Other times its simply to free ourselves of the unhealthy attachment to the past or a poisonous relationship. Forgiveness is never a pardon of a wrong, and it is never a requirement to stay in a relationship with someone God is clearly leading us away from.
But forgiveness is a commandment that God has put into place for our prosperity and well being. It may take time, but every step of obedience will be rewarded by our faithful God’s favor, love and strength to keep going.
And His healing! Plus, we are free to walk in our purposes and callings according to spiritual gifts. Unforgivenss blocks all this. God’s love creates a conduit for our inheritance in Jesus Christ to flow freely!
Wow, I guess the Holy Spirit had more in mind to share here than I realized, my friends. On Thursday, we’ll talk about more about love and hopefully thankfulness—that’s the one I can’t wait to get to and share more about. It’s powerful!