We are all human, I get it. As we wade through this maze called life, we are bound to knowingly or otherwise step on each others toes. As many times as your brother steps on your toes is as many times you will step on his, if not even more. Why is it then that we feel one offense is greater than another, to the point that we are never able to forgive? – James 4:12. The Most High never gave us a list of offenses in rank order of how bad one was compared to the other. An offense is an offense…period! As a matter of fact, Christ himself said in Luke 17:1 that it is impossible for there not to be offenses, but woe to him through whom the offense comes. Offense is the Strongs concordance number 4625, which means ‘things which lead others to turn away from God’s salvation, thus leading to their ruin’. The offense will come, no doubt, but it is our responsibility to make sure we are not the ones causing the offense. Anything we do to another to cause them to turn away from God will surely be counted against us.
In the old testament, there was always a form of punishment exacted for any act of wrongdoing. These ranged from an eye for an eye, to a person being banished from his abode to live in another city for a time, to death in extenuating cases. No matter the wrongdoing, there was always a corresponding punishment. However, in the new testament, we are instead urged to love those that offend us – Luke 6:27. Christ goes even further, and tells us to pray for those who despitefully use us – Luke 6:28. To be able to pray for someone who has offended you means you have to forgive that person. When Christ tells us to forgive someone, its not enough to simply say in your heart or even to the person that they are forgiven and move on. Rather, we are to pray for that person and ask the father not to exact on them the corresponding punishment they deserve. When you can truly and sincerely pray to the father to show that person mercy, to that degree have you truly forgiven. The flip side of all this, and the benefit to you, is that to the degree that you forgive, is to the degree that the father will not exact the punishment you in turn deserve for offending someone else – Matthew 6:12-15
Rather than hold a grudge, Christ gave us the remedy in Luke 17: 3-4. He tells us to confront the person who has offended us, letting them know their fault. If they repent and are contrite, forgive them. Simple right? Well, what makes it not so simple is the way we confront. We tend to confront in anger when our emotions are all over the place, which tends to make matters worse. Its okay to separate yourself from the situation for a while, then come back when you are calm to have the said discussion. Nine times out of ten, when this approach is adopted, the end result usually is reconciliation. Where we really start to miss it is when we keep count of the offenses against us, which means we really never truly forgave when we said we did. Christ tells us that if your brother were to trespass against you seven times a day, and he repents seven times for those offenses, we are commanded to forgive – Luke 17:4.
The fact of the, matter is that no person is worth you missing the kingdom of heaven because of unforgiveness. Even Christ, while on the cross prayed for those same people that persecuted him, rather than hold bitterness in his heart. Forgiveness is a gift to you, it liberates and removes the blinders off of your eyes, so you can see – 1 John 2:11. I’m not saying we won’t get angry, because we will. However, the bible says we should be angry, but sin not – Ephesians 4: 26-27. Unforgiveness is a sin that gives the devil a foothold! Forgiving on the other hand does not mean keep yourself in a perpetual state of allowing yourself to be offended. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves is what Matthew 10:16 tells us. Always allow the holy spirit to guide you out of situations so you are not in a position to be offended. Romans 12:18 tells us to steer clear of the possibility of being offended by living peaceably with everyone as much as is within our power. It takes faith to forgive because you have to trust the father to completely remove the hurt from your heart. Exercising that faith is one of the best things you can do for yourself to get you closer to the kingdom. It is time to clean house and forgive!
Till the next time, shalom!