So God, You Mean You’re Serious About The Forgiveness Thing?
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Yes I’m serious, God says. If I am not serious about forgiveness, then the entire Word of God is a lie!
We sit in prayer with God for an hour and have a tremendous time of worship with Him. We praise Him. We honor Him. We glorify His name. We make our requests made known to Him, believing in our hearts that He will listen – and answer our prayers. But the moment we’re finished praying, the phone rings. It’s the family member we haven’t spoken to in months. They hurt us – deeply. They’ve apologized. But what they did was not right. God understands how hurt we are – right? Besides, that family member isn’t a Christian. We’ve invited them to church hundreds of times to no avail. We go to church every week. We serve. We pray with others. We share Jesus with others. We teach children about Jesus. God knows my heart… blah, blah, blah. The moment we stand up from hours of prayer with God and then immediately choose to disobey His Word, it was like we spent an hour talking to no one. God is serious about His Word.
I recently wrote about having faith in God. Faith in God means to have love for God as well as love for our neighbors. Our neighbors equate to whomever needs love – and forgiveness. Our relationship with God go together with relationship to others. We cannot say we have a relationship with God or say we love God, yet hold hatred in our heart toward our neighbors. We cannot say we love God, yet mistreat our spouse and children. It makes no sense to the Christian life. We are lying to ourselves if we say we love God – yet do not show love to others.
1 John 4:20 “If anyone says I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar.”
It’s easy to say we love God when it doesn’t cost us anything more than church attendance and serving. We graduate to prayer warriors who rise early and pray. But how much do you love God when He tells you to forgive? We think God does not know how we truly feel. We think God cannot see our behavior. We even foolishly think God will forget. Oh once again, Satan, that clever deceiver! He makes you believe you’re so spiritual that God will ignore the pride that has caused you not to forgive. You’re live bait! One more step and you’ll hit the ground. Confused and dazed, you wonder where God is.
I was a regular contributor for a popular Christian magazine for two years. I worked with an editor who was awesome! She was extremely encouraging. I was on a roll sending in articles that she loved. Then one day she announced she was stepping down to pursue other endeavors. She assured everyone the new editor would be great to work with. Well, within one month of working with this new editor I felt as if I was an amateur wasting her time. Nothing about my writing changed, yet everything I sent in was obliterated. After only three months I finally decided to step down. I was so angry! Every once in awhile I had the urge to send that editor a nasty email letting her know what I thought of her as a leader. One day I was so angry thinking about it. I sat at my computer and typed out a sarcastic, indignant letter to her. I was just about to hit send – when the Holy Spirit stopped me.
1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
Have you ever had days when you prayed for God to meet a specific need and that very day you saw God answer? You know it was God because you did nothing to make it happen. You know it was God because there was no other way it could have happened, except for God. Well, I see answers to prayer like that all the time. I don’t pat myself on the back for my hours in the prayer closet. I think of times when the Holy Spirit asked me to love, and I obeyed even though it was hard. I think of times when the Holy Spirit asked me to forgive – and I did. Forgiving is not easy. I have asked God to help me forgive people who are unforgivable. There are relationships I no longer have with people because the relationship was severed – but I still forgive them. I still pray for them. I still speak blessings over them. In return, my relationship with God is stronger.
God is not an angry judge who wants us to obey. He’s a loving Father who knows what’s best for us. We get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget the same love God has for us, he has for others – even those who hurt us. Turn the switch on. Read His Word again – and again. He means what He says. Forgiveness is more about you than you realize. It’s not to say you won’t get hurt. Yes, people will hurt you. But in your relationship with God, He comforts that pain. When you love those who hurt you, He will soften their hearts. He will do the same mighty work in them that He is doing in you! You will be freed from Satan’s trap – and God will answer your prayers.
Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God. John 13:35, and love for one another.”