By Martha Bush
It may happen only once in a lifetime, but sometimes you may receive the ultimate betrayal from someone resulting in a tremendous amount of emotional pain. Such was my family’s case several years ago.
When news of the betrayal was first made known, along with all of its false accusations, I knew immediately that I had to forgive the persons involved. You see, many years ago, I experienced first-hand the torture of an unforgiving heart. But one day, while at the end of my rope, I cried out to the Lord, “I forgive them, Lord, and I ask you to forgive me of all the bitterness inside of me.” That day, I began walking in a freedom like I had not experienced in years.
I made a promise to myself that I would never allow myself to be tormented in this way again. It stirred me to live my life according to: “What Christ has done for me, pass it on to others” (Colossians 3:13) I began to realize that no one could hurt me like my sins hurt Jesus when He paid the ultimate price for my salvation.
Not only that, I try to remind myself that I am not “Miss Squeaky Clean” either. There are times I hurt others also. For these two reasons, I try to forgive others quickly no matter what comes into my life.
However, months went by, and I kept thinking about my current situation. “What is going on here? If I have truly forgiven, why are their faces always before me?”
I began to sense that there was another step I needed to take beyond forgiveness. It seemed as though every time I opened my Bible to read, it fell on “Bless those who persecute you.” (Romans 12:14)
The question on my mind was “How DO I bless those who had persecuted me? What should I do to put this verse into practice?”
One day, I came across a prayer I had recited many times at the end of church services. In fact, the passage of scripture actually begins with the Lord saying to Moses: “Tell Aaron this is HOW I want my people blessed.”
Number 6:23-27: May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord shine His face upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
The following is a brief summary of points I learned from several commentaries on what this scripture means and how we can use it to bless others, including our enemies.
(vs 24) The Lord Bless and Keep You
“Bless” means to speak well of, praise. This does not mean we are blessing the works or deeds of an offender of ours; we are to speak well of and give honor to God’s child whom He loves, despite their wrong doing. “Keep you” means to provide and protect.
(vs 25) The Lord Make His Face Shine Upon You and Be Gracious Unto You
“His face shine upon you” alludes to the shining of the sun upon the earth. We cannot help but be happy if we realize we are loved by God and His face is shining upon us. “Gracious” comes from the word grace, and we know that by His grace He has washed away our sins and will continue to do so.
(vs 26) The Lord Lift up His Countenance Upon You and Give You Peace
“Countenance” means facial expression or approval. This seems to allude to the smiles of a father upon his child that he approves and accepts his child.
(vs 27) And I will put my name upon the children of Israel and I will bless them
Here God gives Aaron permission to make use of His name in blessing the people, and to bless them as His people, called by His name. When we place God’s name on enemy territory, there can be no hostility, no ill feeling, only a desire to see them blessed. Though the blessing was pronounced by the lips of man, God made the promise and assurance that, “I, the Lord, will bless them.”
That passage of scripture began to take root way down deep inside of me for the ones who had betrayed my family. Had I forgiven them? Yes, but God’s desires for their future became my desires.
I sincerely wanted them:
- to be protected from all evil
- to experience the love of a their heavenly Father as He shines His face upon them
- to feel loved, accepted and approved by God
- to experience the comfort and peace within themselves, others, and God
I conclude that:
Forgiving others keeps our life free from being tormented with bitterness.
When we take a step beyond forgiveness, we become God’s mouthpiece in which the blessings flow to those who have persecuted us. That, in itself, is an honor to be His mouthpiece.
What about you? Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there a step beyond forgiveness that you may need to extend to someone by calling down God’s blessings on them?