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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The preacher asked, “How many have forgiven their enemies?" About half held up their hands. He then repeated his question. Now about 80% held up their hands. He then repeated his question again. All responded, except one elderly woman.

"Mrs. Jones, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?" asked the preacher. "I don't have any." she replied. "Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?" asked the preacher. "Ninety-three." she replied. "Mrs. Jones, please come down in front and tell the congregation how a person cannot have an enemy in the world." asked the preacher.

The little sweetheart of a woman tottered down the aisle, and said, "It's easy, I just outlived them all.

Have you ever been hurt? Here is the greater question: How have you dealt with the hurt in your life? The natural, normal response is not forgiveness, it is to get even or just outlive them. If not dealt with, hurt degenerates into bitterness, which can establish a stronghold in your heart.

Lack of forgiveness is one of the greatest hindrances to revival. There is a high price to pay if we fail to forgive. So how do we learn to forgive those who have wronged us?

People are going to hurt you, often unjustifiably. Sin is an inevitable part of our lives. You are going to encounter people who will hurt you, sometimes unjustifiably.

It may be a dad who deserted you, a mother who treated you poorly, a teacher who humiliated you, a child who has rejected you, a colleague who betrayed you, a friend who slandered you, or a church member who stabbed you in the back.

Here is the reality—you will never escape hurt in this life, because we live in a sin-wrecked world. The real question concerns how you deal with those who hurt you.

You will be tempted to hurt them in return. Our natural tendency is to hold onto hurt in our hearts, and to seek revenge. Each of us has a ledger book in our heart. When someone hurts us and we think we deserve better, we place his or her name and the hurt in the “ledger book” of our heart. There is only one reason to keep a ledger: we want to make people pay. We are incredibly prone to take revenge.

Aggressive ways we take revenge are gossip, slander, criticism, condemnation, anger, harsh words, physical attacks, purposely destroying their reputation, dishonesty, stealing, lying, and using our finances and influence to hurt.

Passive ways we take revenge are ignoring them, feeling proud and self-righteous, and withholding love.

Is there anyone with items in the debit column of your heart’s ledger book? Is there anyone against whom you are taking revenge either aggressively or passively?

Failure to forgive hurts you more than anyone else. "I've had a few arguments with people," comedian Buddy Hackett once confessed, "but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing."

Bitterness is a quality that consumes the vessel that contains it. When you carry harbored hurt, it always turns to bitterness, and bitterness always corrupts. We turn our backs on hurts and try to say they do not matter. However, hurt does not go away; it festers and it soon begins to torment.

Failure to forgive has heavy consequences. It is a “jail” far worse than one of bars and guards. Carrying a load of bitterness is physically demanding, emotionally exhausting, mentally tormenting, relationally isolating, and spiritually crushing. If we hold a grudge in our hearts, we are easy prey to gossip, we assume negative about people, and we rejoice in the fall of others.

Forgiveness involves leaving revenge in the hands of a faithful God. Choose to leave revenge in the hands of God. Believe that God is the ultimate Judge and is big enough to take care of him.

This means that forgiveness is our responsibility, by a choice of our will, to release a debt, by faith, to glorify God.

Some may say, “I can’t,—you don’t know what they did to me!” The truth is that God could not be a perfect God if He asked you to do something you could not do by His grace.

The question is; do you believe God? Do you believe He is big enough to take care of you? Do you believe He is big enough to take care of those who have hurt you? Then FORGIVE!

As you search your heart, is there any name in the ledger book? Is there anyone who has hurt you, in a big or small way that you are holding something against? God has one simple word for you today: FORGIVE!


Anonymous said...

I've been reading a chapter a day from the book of Romans. This morning was chapter 15 and as I read the commentary for verses 1-5, one sentence struck my heart..."If we are not at peace with others, we will be at war within ourself." Holy Spirit convicted me that I haven't truly forgiven my husband! His Word really is living, active, and sharper than any double edged sword!

Preacher Phil said...

Bless you! Father God, I pray that you will to give my friend the power to forgive everyone who has hurt her. Help me to forgive her husband for whatever the circumstance may be.

She has been hurt deeply and can't get over it but confesses it now, forgive her of her sins.

Now I call upon you as her deliverer. Your word says that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be delivered.

In the name of Christ,