The Devastation of Unforgiveness

‘The LORD – the LORD is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.’ Ex. 34:6, 7. CSB

As always, God provides us an example to model – this one for forgiveness. Moreover, He also tells us how to access His forgiveness:

“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr. 7:14 NKJV

God demands forgiveness from His children as well. There is a dire penalty laid upon those who don’t:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.” Mt. 6:14, 15. AMP

The devastation of unforgiveness then, is a situation where your sins are unforgiven, which, if you remain in that state, will receive the ultimate penalty: eternal separation from God and His children. Where you would reside, should you continue in your sins, is with the devil – the one who suggested that you sin in the first place.

So, how do we get to a place where we find ourselves withholding our forgiveness? We get there because someone else hurt us, or we think that they did. Usually, that someone is close to us; otherwise, we wouldn’t care. We perceive ourselves as wounded, and that wound begins to fester and transforms (with some tweaking by the devil) into anger and bitterness.

We don’t confront the offender because we are still reeling from the fact that someone who should care about us has harmed us in this manner. Thus, we never have a chance to clean up what was most likely a misunderstanding. (That’s not to say that there aren’t people who deliberately attack; yet, confrontation is still the answer). 

Then, we feed this wound, and in time it becomes a torment of imagination that far exceeds the original insult. 

Confrontation, done in God’s way, a loving way, serves both parties:

The servant of the Lord must not participate in quarrels, but must be kind to everyone [even-tempered, preserving peace, and he must be], skilled in teaching, patient and tolerant when wronged. He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], and may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26. AMP

Misunderstandings are cleared, wounds are soothed, relationships are restored, all by doing it God’s way, through acting out His word. And, you get to stop playing the victim!

You only withhold forgiveness when you judge; and God gives us a moral imperative against that:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged…And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Mt. 7:1 – 3. NKJV

If we didn’t judge, then we would not blame; subsequently there would be nothing to forgive. 

Judgment is a chronic stream of mental chatter that the devil uses – lies, which if you believe them, will bring you a life filled with dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Within that chatter, you’ll find ‘He did, she did;’ ‘They can’t, I can’t;’ ‘Life is horrific;’ ‘They made me / my life this way;’ etc. What happens? You view your life and others through the lens of your personal preferences – predilections constructed from the afore-mentioned satanic deceptions, that are shaping a false reality. 

You mold your judgments within your self-constructed tunnel vision: images of how you think the world should be. This is all rooted in a blindness that we take on, when we shift our focus from God to ourselves. Ironically, when you judge, the only thing you accurately define is yourself, and you surround yourself with clones of your dysfunctional behavior and your cycles of relationships are simply ‘rinse and repeat.’ 

The tendency to judge is perpetuated by an attachment to being ‘right,’ exhibited by your tenacious clinging to your own point of view as being the ‘gold standard.’ 

When we can suspend judgment, then the burden of self-judgment is also lifted. Only then can we have a space for repentance and forgiveness. 

There are some people who seem to us to be unlovable – ungrateful, unappreciative, cold, cantankerous. Yet, God loves that person, and He wants to love them through you as well; otherwise, He would not have put them in your orbit. 

It’s obvious they are running their own mental schemes as well. Loving them as God loves them, builds your character, gets your mind off of yourself and your expectations, gives the other person a chance to find freedom from themselves, and see an open door to their Creator.

“But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seeks the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Mt. 5:44 AMP

For those people who did actually and purposely cause you injury, forgive them, (staying away from them if a safety issue exists), and remember God’s place in this situation:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in scripture], “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Rm. 12:19 AMP

Keep in mind that just because we come to a place where we can see how we have been being and what we have been doing, and how our judgment is antithetical to what God wants for us, we are still human. In spite of our best efforts, we will still sin, we will judge. When our God-given conviction kicks in, so must a new cycle of forgiveness:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Col. 3:12, 13. ESV

Sometimes, the tendency to judge is seemingly impossible to turn away from – especially if someone does something that you perceive not to be in your best interest. The truth is, most people are not intentionally injurious. They only know how to exist the way that they are being at that point in their lives, because they believe that behavior is vital for their survival. 

We need to be compassionate towards them, forgiving them for projecting their inner suffering outwards. We just happened to be a convenient target.

When you don’t forgive these ‘injuries’ and the stories that you build around them (your judgments), they hold you in bondage. How does God want you to respond?

…you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise, such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow…reaffirm your love to him. 2 Cor. 2:7, 8. NASB

Our Father in heaven places such a high priority on forgiveness, that He will not even hear your prayers until you make reconciliation with your object of unforgiveness. (Mt. 5:23, 24.) Christ told us to forgive everyone perpetually. (Mt. 18:22)

There is never an excuse for judgment where others are concerned. We are condemned spiritually, and our lives will suffer every time we practice it. 

Forgiveness begins in the mirror. After all, most of the things we don’t forgive in others, are the same things we don’t forgive in ourselves. Without forgiveness, we create a barrier between ourselves and our Creator. 

Forgiveness comes from the heart; it is a Spiritual endowment, completing our relationship with ourselves, God, and all other people. Forgiving is the highest act of giving: where we give our love away, regardless of whether we think it is deserved. After all, who doesn’t deserve love?

Forgiveness emulates the character of the Father and the Son. Christ went to the cross for our forgiveness. When we forgive, we honor His sacred sacrifice – acknowledging that it was enough…

Goodnight and God bless 

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Why Would You Need God’s Mercy?

Why? Because no one is above falling down. Everyone sins. (Eccl. 7:20) There are no exceptions – including King David, whom God had called ‘a man after His own heart.’ (1 Sam. 13:14)

God had helped establish David’s throne in Jerusalem, uniting all of Israel under his rule. He covered him with His favor, granting David an eternal dynasty:

…the LORD will make you a house…And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. 2 Sam. 7:11 & 16. ESV

(There is no physical house or throne that will last forever. God is referring to the eternal kingdom of Christ, whose incarnate body would later come from King David’s lineage.)

The favor of God continued to follow David until one warm spring night when he decided to cool off on the roof of his house. From his vantage point, King David saw a woman bathing on her rooftop nearby. He was smitten. (Note that he was also married at this time.)

The king did a little detective work and found out that the woman’s name was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah – one of his handpicked soldiers. David suppressed his spiritual self and gave into the flesh. He had Bathsheba brought to him for an adulterous tryst that left her with child. Subsequently, our heretofore virtuous king had Uriah sent to the front lines of a battlefield where his death was all but guaranteed.

When Bathsheba’s prescribed mourning period was over, David took her as wife and she bore him a son. Foolishly, they thought they had pulled one over on everyone. Uh-oh:

But the thing that David had done [with Bathsheba] was evil in the sight of the LORD. 2 Sam. 11:27 AMP

You can’t pull the wool over God’s eyes. He sent His prophet Nathan to King David to deliver His judgment:

“Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD to do evil in His sight?’ “ 2 Sam. 12:7 – 9. NKJV

David is standing before his Creator’s representative, accused of adultery and murder – both punishable by death according to Mosaic Law. Yet God exercised His mercy, and through Nathan, laid upon David a lesser sentence, telling him that his house would be troubled for the rest of his days and that his sins (that he had hoped to keep hidden), would be replayed in the public eye.

(Indeed, David’s first child by Bathsheba dies, one of his subsequent sons rapes his half-sister, the half-sister’s brother exacts revenge by killing the perpetrator and goes on to publicly commit adultery with David’s wives and plots a violent coup of the king’s rule but is killed during the attempt.)

David wholeheartedly confesses and repents of his sins and God answers his repentance through Nathan:

“The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” 1 Sam. 12:13 NASB

Our God is such a loving and forgiving God. However, though He blots out our sin, we are still left to deal with the consequences caused by them. Sin is so destructive – it hurts God, the victim and the perpetrator. Yet there must be consequences; otherwise, everyone would just cavalierly continue in their sinful ways.

God tells us that sin (disobedience) brings a curse (Dt. 30:19, 20.) that carries the consequences of breakage – in both life and the relationships contained within. Yet praise be to God that He forgives:

…you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love… Neh. 9:17 ESV

Why? Because it is the only way the you can be healed from your sin. If you don’t have faith in God’s forgiveness, you will not forgive yourself. And the subsequent guilt and shame you heap upon yourself causes you to hate that person in the mirror, which severs your love-connection with God.

God loves you so much that He never wants to you to be disconnected from Him, as well as He does not want to be detached from your love:

I, I am he, who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Is. 43:25 ESV

For His sake – so that love circle remains intact. Thus, He guarantees His forgiveness:

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr. 7:14 NKJV

And just like King David, we ‘turn from our wicked ways’ through confession and repentance:

If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. 1 Jn. 1:9 AMP

God forgives and so should we. We are to model Him, and that includes His mercy. In fact, we must exercise our mercy first, if we hold a grudge against anyone, before we go before our Father to receive His:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Mt. 6:14, 15. ESV

Forgiveness begins in the mirror, so that we can break down any barriers that we’ve erected between God and ourselves. Furthermore, when we extend that forgiveness outwards (Eph. 4:32), it completes our relationship with God and all others – ultimately completing our relationship with ourselves.

Forgiving is the highest act of giving – where we give our love away, regardless of whether we think the object of our love deserves it or not. After all, who doesn’t deserve love?

Goodnight and God bless.

God Yearns for Your Return

Return from what? Your foray into the ways of the world.

God loves you, and He yearns for your love in return. That’s why He gave you free will. If love isn’t freely given, it’s not love at all.

We were born into a love relationship with God; but as we grew older, we got sucked into the maw of worldly enticements from the adversary who walks this world and creates the mayhem within it. We fell into lockstep with the example set before us long ago by Adam and Eve.

They stepped into the ways of the world when they accepted the devil’s lie, essentially turning their backs on God, calling Him a liar in the process. And man’s behavior has gone south ever since.

During the time of Moses, God stepped in and left us a signpost, a way to prepare for the salvation through Christ. Why? It’s because God loves despite our sin. He wants to save everyone.

This signpost was the Law (outlined in the Ten Commandments). Not only did He send it’s dictates through Moses, He imprinted it upon our consciences:

“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life…” Dt. 30:14 & 19, 20. NKJV

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. Ps. 16:7 ESV

In other words, God imbued the rules for ‘right living’ upon our souls. Unfortunately, the Law was grossly corrupted by man over time, so that he could feel justified as he lived according to the desires of his flesh.

The Law and the Gospel are two entirely different doctrines. Yet they are equally necessary. You cannot understand the Gospel without knowing the Law; and without the Gospel, the Law brings no blessings.

Both are required for salvation. The Law gives us the understanding of why we need the Gospel, and the Gospel leads us to salvation. The Gospel makes no sense if we don’t understand the Law and how breaking it brings us such dire consequences that we cannot undo by ourselves.

The Law (the Old Covenant) reveals both the nature of sin and convicts us when we have taken it upon ourselves to engage in sinful activity – so that we become aware of our need for salvation. Yet, the only thing the Law offers for a path to redemption, is a dictate to follow it to the letter. That is not humanly possible. Until we accept Christ as our Savior, we cannot reach that perfection.

The Law convicts the Law—breaker,  not out of malice, but to nudge us towards the gospel. Until we make that journey to be perfected in the grace of God’s salvation, that conviction will bring with it guilt and shame. And that’s what keeps so many people from returning to their Father.

So we suffer; and we try to insulate ourselves from more suffering by pushing our misdeeds into our subconscious, with busyness, distractions and addictions – all the while engaging in self-flagellation. We yearn for love, but we cannot give it to ourselves because we’re too busy running from our guilt, which only leads to more sin as we try to insulate ourselves against our hurts. In other words, we keep digging a deeper hole.

If we continue to repeat these patterns, we will become both mentally and physically sick. This is not God’s plan. We have to recognize that we cannot work our way to salvation (by living in perfect adherence to the Law), and instead open ourselves up to the grace of God.

It’s hard because we think that we are unacceptable in God’s eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth. God yearns for and works at everyone’s return:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Pt. 3:9 ESV

God is in the business of reconciliation. Other than perpetually denying Christ, there is nothing that He will not wipe from your earthly slate if you come to Him with sincere confession and repentance.

We can bring our offenses before God so that He can remove them from His memory through the blood of Christ.

Sometimes however, we bury our deeds so deep in our subconscious that we need to ask Him to help us learn to be still (i.e. to meditate in His presence) so that He can reveal the wound we’ve been trying to hide from ourselves. Furthermore, we can ask Him to help us give to ourselves understanding, compassion and the insight to rise above our old self – giving ourselves those same things that He does. When we do that, we can forgive ourselves as well instead of making the work of the Cross for naught.

We are at cause for how we live out our lives and for the future that we create. Many times, those do not turn out as we had hoped because of the persistent thorn of our transgressions. Again, we suffer; and happiness is not possible in an environment that lacks understanding, love and compassion.

Yet suffering is the path that goads us to seek God. It also brings us compassion for ourselves and others when He helps us overcome it.

It is vital that we seek healing from the Lord. Avoiding our hurtful situations will never put us in a place where we can receive the heavenly balm that we require. The joy we seek comes when we let go of our own efforts, and give our burdens to Christ. (Mt. 11:30)

As we saw, the Law leads us to the salvation of the Gospel, and what a salvation that is! It is the saving perfection that God gives you through the blood of Christ – not something that you attain by yourself, but is a continual gift of His doing. (2 Cor. 3:18)

That doesn’t mean that you won’t keep making mistakes. There are still revelations to take in, faith to build, strengthening to make us more aware and formidable (by letting Christ fight our battles).

We make our greatest acknowledgment of the gift of God’s salvation when we fully accept that it’s about His doing at the Cross, His work through each of His children through Christ’s sacrifice and completely disregard our self-importance – looking to the Godhead for our purpose and joy.

God transferred every sin in the past, present and future of every person who accepts His Son, upon Jesus. Christ paid the total price for your transformation. He laid himself down willingly to face your punishment so that you might spend eternity with Him. He gave you life when all you had coming was death.

When you make that free-will decision to accept Christ for who He is, what He’s done, and what it all means, every obstacle that stands between you and God crumbles for good. It’s done. That’s all He has been asking of all peoples.

In fact, upon your salvation, God sees you as if you were His Son; and indeed, they have both taken up residence within you. You are a new creature in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV

So, what is your part in all of this? Thomas Merton said it best: “My job is to press forward, to grow inwardly, to pray, to break away from attachments, to defy fears, to grow in faith, to seek an entirely new dimension and perspective in my life, and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest – to really desire this and to work for it.”

You are Christ-made acceptable to God, a true child of the Father.

Isn’t that exciting? After all, Jesus is the reason for this season, yes? MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Goodnight and God bless.