Forgiveness is a pukie religious, over used, misunderstood word a lot like love.
We hear it in sermons, bible studies and articles. We are bloodied and bruised by the beating over the head if someone thinks we’re holding a “grudge”. When someone has been hurt, they are quickly told to forgive because they will “feel” better. I see the word forgiveness thrown around so much in religious circles that it has a pukie quality to it. Yet God commands us to forgive. So what does it really mean? Why does knowing how God forgives, help us?
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
This is part of a healthy walk in love, but what is the context? Who is God telling us to forgive? These verses don’t come out and say it. So let’s find out by looking back in the context. We’re looking for who is this written to first then, who are we supposed to forgive?
Verses 1 on of chapter 4.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 [There is] one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;” vs. 1-4
Who are the people we are supposed to forbear? What if a drunk driver took out your son? Do you forgive and forbear that guy who may still be a rank unbeliever? What if the guy never asks for forgiveness from you, never changes his ways, and never cares about what he’s done? His heart is still just as hard and calloused with pride as ever before? Is this the person you are commanded to forgive?
NO and a thousand times NO! Who are the ones we are to forgive? Those walking in the vocation wherewith we are called. Those endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit. Those who display and truly have lowliness and meekness and longsuffering. Who are these people? Our fellow believers walking together towards God’s greater good in their lives.
Let’s read on.
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” vs. 5-7
This is the very definition of a believer. It is someone with God in them and who has a measure of the gift of Christ/Anointing which is also called the gift of the holy spirit. This is the context of verse 31-32. We are to treat our fellow believers with the respect that we deserve as God’s kids. And when things come up between them, we are commanded to be tender and kind and forgive them.
Ok. What if someone who is a Christian violates us? What if they wrong us in the deepest darkest way? What if they steal from us? They are not walking love. They could care less, but yes, they are technically born again.
No one loses their sonship rights after believing Romans 10:9-10. But being genetically born into a family doesn’t mean you stay in fellowship with them. Yes, we have spiritual DNA, but as any parent knows it is still the child’s choice whether to remain in the will and fellowship of the Father.
So let’s say a child of God is walking OUT of fellowship with God and doing truly evil things. Do we have to forgive them then? This is what I love about God. He looks on the heart. He is no respecter of persons. But He is a respecter of the conditions of the heart. He knows what that errant child’s heart looks like.
Let’s keep reading.
8 Wherefore he (Christ Jesus) saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” vs. 8-14
Is that errant child being tossed to and fro? Are they carried about with every wind of doctrine? Oh yeah. When someone is in a rebellious pride filled head-space and not walking in love, then let me ask are you their minister? Are you the one God wants in there bringing them back to Him? Keep in mind that he/she is God’s child, not yours. You have to check in. God knows which minister will help to bring that person back to Him, but that minister may not be you. Recognize that. God is a big boy. He can handle it. He gives people MILLLIONS of chances to repent and have a change of heart.
So let’s say, you ask God and He says, “stay away”. God knows that by you being close to that person, you’ll get sucked into the drama, chaos and hurt all over again and disrupt your walk and fellowship with HIM. He knows that being near them causes a major tailspin and upheaval in your life?
There is never any reason or any person EVER worth breaking fellowship with God over, period.
The devil knows this too. The devil is happy because now he has someone he can use to screw with your life. So he’ll try to plant conversations, traps, and “consequential meetings” with that person. He’ll even convince your closest friends that you need to forgive and reconcile with them. Talk about manipulation. GOD SAID STAY AWAY. But the devil knows the human spirit is weak and, without guidance, they can be manipulated. The devil’s whole goal is to cut off your fellowship to God. Do you see what kind of battle this is? The mind games the devil plays? Do you see the bigness of renewing your mind? Your mind must be razor sharp, so that any “casual” mention is immediately repelled. You have to be on this every day, every hour and every minute. Otherwise you’ll trip over people I call “trip hazards”.
“Trip hazards” are tricky, because they are sincere, well-meaning friends being tricked by the devil. In the next post, I’m going to handle “Trip hazards,” in the mean time here is a verse that shows us how God forgives. We’re supposed to be imitators of Him.
“IF we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
God forgives based on the condition of confession and confession is a heart thing. We have to own up to our faults then ask Him. This is a deep down change. People who are master manipulators are masters at apologizing, but this verse is about changing the heart and being cleansed to the point where you don’t want to mess up again, because of how big God healed you and how RIGHT God set things. Only God can see the depth of change in a person and that’s why it’s so important that we check in.
I’ve adopted this adage: IF someone is okay with God, and He’s okay with them, than it’s okay with me. I don’t like hanging onto anything bitter or painful. I give it up as quick as humanly possible. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m wise enough now to keep from stepping back into a relationship without a clear green light from the Father. It’s just to risky and my renewed mind walk is too valuable.
I hope this helps you in the forgiveness department and…
God bless you today.