by DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

Picture this…  Your mother gets pregnant with you while engaged to be married to another man.  She marries a man who is not your father and you are born while your mother is traveling with her husband to pay his taxes.  Before they can get to a hospital, you are born in a barn full of smelly animals and placed in their eating trough and wrapped in dead men’s’ clothes.  Then you are raised in the ghetto. While an infant, your dad suddenly decides to leave the country and moves your family in the middle of the night, because of a dream. As your family leaves your home country, the government there is killing infant and toddler boys of your ethnicity and age.

You are older now and you answer God’s call to teach and preach the word of God and His kingdom. But you are disliked and hated by fellow clergy.  The religious call you names. They criticize the kind of people you are from and they criticize the kind of people who follow you: former prostitutes; thieving tax collectors; fishermen; everyday laborers; people who maybe are unschooled and of little means…  As multitudes, including rich and judicial, begin to follow your teachings and your name is mentioned everywhere, the established clergy become jealous and begin to actively plot your demise.

You have a faithful group of men who go with you wherever you go. However, the clergy gets to one of the men with offer of money.  This trusted friend eats supper with you and then betrays you the very same night. So while you are praying, in the middle of the night, they arrest you without charge.  They don’t give you time to seek a lawyer, but take you from court to court until they’ve come up with a federal charge.  While in federal custody you are judged innocent, but the judge hears the voice of a paid mob crying “Give him death!” Therefore the judge sentences you to die for an unjustified cause.

You never have a trial by a jury of your peers; and you aren’t even given a public defender.  You are never given an opportunity to face your accuser of this trumped-up federal offense. While in custody, the guards spit upon you and ridicule you and beat you until you are unrecognizable. Then they parade you, bloody and bruised, to the place where they will put you to an agonizing death.  As you are dying, a group of people stand mocking you.  While you are dying and being mocked, you look to the heavens and speak to your God and say (where you can be heard), “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

What? Come again! Forgive? Excuse me, but…? That’s most extraordinary, but that scenario is based on a true story about Jesus Christ!  He endured the ridicule, the beating and the death as punishment for our sins. He stood in our place, because we stand guilty as charged. No matter what the charge, we are worthy of death (Romans 6:23).  However, because of what He endured, we are forgiven and can have an eternal relationship with the Almighty God. Now we are called to show that same grace and forgiving attitude.  We are called to forgive.  Are you in the midst of a relational conflict? Are you having sleepless nights?  Do you have an ulcer attack or severe headache every time you think about what someone did to you?  Maybe there always seem to be a confrontation with your loved one or with anybody.  Are you struggling with getting your needs met?  Is your marriage falling apart? Are you angry all the time? There could be many reasons for your struggle, but you may want to start with un-forgiveness.

It’s His will.The principle reason we should forgive is, of course, because Christ paid the price for everyone’s sin; past, present and future, and it’s His will for us to do so: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses ( Matthew 6:14-15).”

Avoid Torment.The Apostle Peter asked how many times a brother can sin against him and he forgives him? Christ replied “…Seventy times seven.”  He gives an illustration of a servant who asked his benefactor for forgiveness of his debt and upon receiving mercy, the servant then went to those whom he was a benefactor and showed no mercy. Word got back to his benefactor about this shameless behavior. His benefactor, angered by this, withdrew his mercy and gave him over to tormentors until he paid his debt. Then Christ summed up the moral of the story by saying: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:35).” A word sticks out in this passage: ‘tormentors’.  This is an overlooked factor in the lack of forgiveness.  The one who does not forgive will face torment.  Torment is: to inflict pain, torture or anguish on somebody or something. Notice that Christ says that the one who does not forgive becomes the tormented, because He said that just as was done to that unforgiving servant, so will it be done unto you, if you do not forgive.  Forgiveness is essential to avoid “tormentors” Remember you were asked, “Are you experiencing conflict or confrontational relationships, etc.?”  This is a form of torment.  You want to punish or you want God to punish someone who has wronged you, but you wind up being tormented, because you have not forgiven them.  You’re the one having sleepless nights, because of anger.  You’re the one who gets ulcers or headaches from the sight or thought of the offender, because of bitterness. You’re the one who can’t seem to get along with anybody. You’re paying for the offense done to you.

Receive forgiveness.  In this same passage is found the third principal reason to forgive: so that you can receive forgiveness from God, because the mark is missed everyday by saying something inappropriate; or not forgiving someone; or whatever…. You know this. That’s why we pray” Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Christ infers that He will not forgive the unforgiving. “And when you stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:15).”

Don’t be used by the devil. Paul gives a fourth principle for forgiveness and explained this as he counseled the congregation at Corinth about a very real situation with one of the parishioners in 2 Corinthians 2:7-11. Apparently the parishioner had committed a sin for which the church rendered a punishment (probably excommunication for a period) which he served. Now that he has repented and served his time of punishment, Paul instructs them to forgive him of his trespasses and show him the love of Christ before his heart despairs.  In other words, he had served his punishment with hopes that he would be forgiven and welcomed back into the church family as a repentant soul with renewed passion to walk in the Spirit.  However, if the congregation does not welcome him back, but still holds his misstep over his head, he will despair and probably turn from God and the “Church “rather than turn to God.  Then Paul makes a startling statement that you don’t often hear preached or taught.  He says: You must show him the forgiveness and love of Christ “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11).” Un-forgiveness is a device of the devil.  So not only does God leave the unforgiving to tormentors but the devil uses the un-forgiveness to snare the un-forgiven. Either way the unforgiving loses, because the Christ life suffers in the life of the believer be they un-forgiving or un-forgiven. The fourth reason to forgive is so as not to be a party to the devices of the devil.

Avoid pride and arrogance. Before Christ died we were all absolutely subject to the wrath of God.  We were all subject to punishment, because as Paul said, we were: …”fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortionist, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).” But Christ took upon Himself the punishment of us all.  So that when we come before God, we can ask for forgiveness and expect to receive it, because of the shed blood of Christ.  If God has forgiven you, then you ought to forgive others.  It becomes a sin of arrogance and pride if God has forgiven someone, but we infer that God is wrong to forgive that person by not forgiving them ourselves. We’re saying by our un-forgiveness that we know better than God, what or who should be forgiven.  I remember dating a guy who told me of his past sins.  Everything was lovely until he told me that.  Then we started having senseless arguments. The relationship got very shaky.  One day the Spirit of God said to me, “I have forgiven this man, who are you to not forgive him?” This was his past that I held against him.  I didn’t know him then! Yet I had the gall to not forgive a man who was forgiven by God.  Because of un-forgiveness, I was subject to torment; our relationship became suspect; and my un-forgiveness was an act of pride and arrogance which almost became a device of the devil.

The Holy Spirit will help. You have to lay pride aside (Matthew 5:41) and forgive (seventy times seven) even when it seems unforgivable (Matthew 18:22); show grace and mercy as Christ has shown to us; and love the way Christ loved us (John 14). If you forgive, you will see a marked transformation for the better in your relationship with God and others.  Not only that, but you will get off of stress medication.  When you forgive, you will be released from your tormentors.  Not everyone or everything is easy to forgive.  When the Spirit of God confronts me with the fact that I have not forgiven, it is usually someone or something that is difficult to forgive.  Sometimes we have difficulty forgiving ourselves or we have difficulty in accepting God’s forgiveness. The offender may be dead. They may be habitually abusive. They may be betraying. They may be an institution/organization or someone we don’t know personally.  So we have to pray to God for His help. When I have difficulty in forgiving, I pray, “Lord it is my will to forgive _____ (name of the offender) for his/her/their offense________ (name the offense) against me; because it is Your will that I forgive. Please give me Your kind of forgiveness.” We can’t be obedient and forgiving without the help of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to take control so that you can live this Christ life.

The Forgiver gives new life. If you can’t let go of bitterness toward someone whom you feel may have rejected you or disrespected you, or betrayed your trust, or offended you, or just flatly wronged you, you no doubt are facing torment. It is obvious by your relational difficulties:  you are a casual church goer when you used to be a regular attendant; and you are difficult to be around, because anything someone says is taken negatively by you.  These are signs that you are in torment and you may have some forgiveness issues.  The only way you are going to be loosed from your tormentor is to acknowledge your sin of un-forgiveness and decide to do the will of God by taking your un-forgiveness to Christ.  The Holy Spirit is willing, and able to help you to forgive.  Then before you know it, your tormentors will leave and your prayers will be answered.  You will shed pride and arrogance and you will begin to see clearly the grace and merciful hand of God miraculously operating in your life.  Remember Christ died on the cross so that we can have forgiveness of the Father which will give us access to a relationship and eternal life with the Father. Christ, the son of God, arose from the dead on the third day with all power in His hands, thereby, giving us the ability to walk in overcoming victory.  He was the blood sacrifice for our sins, past, present, and future. We must believe that God forgives us and we must seek to forgive as He has forgiven us.  Thank God for His incomprehensible love and forgiveness. Because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and forgiving; and the Great Forgiver releases us from torment and gives new life. Praise God and Amen!

“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

That’s Todays’ Single Focus…

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