As I pondered the Word of God a few weeks ago, the following thought came to my spirit. How long do I forgive? Forgiveness is one of those “touchy” subjects that Christians don’t like to talk about because if the truth be told, we’ve ALL been wronged on occasion. The question that I hear so often is, “How do I forgive if I haven’t forgotten?” Some have supposed that “If you haven’t forgotten, you haven’t really forgiven.” Well, such suppositions are fanciful at best, but hold no scriptural weight.
Let us consider the mother who’s son or daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The mother is a Christian and feels compelled by other well meaning Christians to “forgive and forget.” One can only imagine the pain and turmoil of the human spirit that one must endure when life deals a blow of that caliber to one of God’s children. How is one to behave, act, or react to a circumstance like that?
Well, it is certain that the Holy Spirit is the Agent of Healing to bring forth wholeness to all that allow Him access. The question is, “How does one allow access to the Holy Spirit for this process to begin to manifest?” Well, here are some suggestions:
- Take your heart to God. Tell God EXACTLY how you feel. He is the Author and the Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore, let God who BEGAN your Christian pilgrimage “finish” or “develop” your faith. This is, of course, “easier said than done.”Nevertheless, I believe that if we’re going to reach our potential in Christ, we MUST allow Him unbridled access to our hearts. One of my favorite Scriptures is found in Philippians 1:3-6. Paul said that he thanked God upon “every remembrance” of the Philippian Church.
Lastly, he says that he was CONFIDENT of this very thing that, “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Now, the question that surely follows is, “What is the GOOD WORK that he began in us?”
Well, of course, it is that the fruits of righteousness would grow to maturity within our hearts and manifest in the form of character in our lives. Let’s finish reading the text to make our point clear.
“And this I pray, that your LOVE MAY ABOUND yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may BE SINCERE and WITHOUT OFFENCE till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
So, we can see that the Lord expects us to GROW UP AND NOT GIVE UP. He expects us to mature and endure hardness as “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.”
Again, I am NOT suggesting that this is easy, but I am suggesting that this is what is required to walk in the Spirit.
So, we take our hearts to God – bruises and all. He specializes in “healing the broken hearted.” In Psalms 147:3, Jesus said that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”, and in Psalms 34:18, David said that “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. Isn’t that good news? Absolutely! Yes indeed! It helps me to remember the Jesus is my High Priest and He is “easily touched by the feelings of my infirmity.” See Hebrews 4:15.
When I realize that Jesus felt the worst anguish that one could ever endure when He endured the cross and the brutal whipping that left Him virtually unrecognizable. Remember, He could have called down 10,000 angels to His defense, but He did not because he had you and me on His mind! (See Matthew 26:53) “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” So, it’s obvious that he CHOSE to submit to the cross. Then He tells His followers to SUBMIT and TAKE UP OUR CROSS AND FOLLOW HIM.”
- After taking your broken heart to Jesus, ask Him to bind up and heal your wounds. Remember: He’s called the “Great Physician,” and remember also that He is well acquainted with heart ache. That means that He will treat your heart with the utmost of respect and will deal with your heart as no man could ever hope to.
- Ask yourself, “Do I get the luxury of holding unforgiveness within my heart?” The answer? Of course not. Consider the following text in Mark 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. BUT IF YE DO NOT FORGIVE, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not willing for the Father to hold my sins against me because I did not forgive someone else! So, let’s revisit our broken hearted mother who lost her child or children in a car accident by a drunk driver who, OF COURSE, walks away without a scratch. In love for her sake, Christ requires her to forgive from her heart. This will allow her to get on with her life and even help others through similar tragedies by her example.
One final thought. In Matthew 18:21 Peter asks Jesus how often should he forgive his brother who trespasses against him. Peter says, until seven times seven? I’m sure that Peter thinks that He is really impressing Jesus with this answer. However, Jesus must have shocked Peter to his very core when he said, until 70 times 7!
What was Jesus teaching? Now, candidly, I have heard every type of explanation or interpretation to this age old answer to Peter’s question. So what did Jesus mean? Well, this is what the Lord shared with me. See if it makes your spirit leap as it did mine.
Jesus directed me to Daniel 9:24-25:
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Now go back to verse 24. Seventy Weeks. Now what is a week? A group or set of seven. I believe that Jesus is saying that there is coming a time at the conclusion of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (70×7) or the end of the Great Tribulation that there will come an end of the Dispensation of Grace and forgiveness will have “run it’s course.” Jesus is saying, “I don’t expect you to forgive not one moment longer than I myself will.” Of course, at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, there will be no more forgiveness of sins. But as for now, we are DEFINITELY in the dispensation of grace and this is the TIME TO FORGIVE.
~ Miles T. Fitzpatrick