It is so easy to say and convince yourself that you have forgiven the people that have hurt you at some point in your life, but when action is called into play, the truth is revealed by fire. Everything alive bears fruit, even unforgiveness. The fruit of unforgiveness is bitter. It has fallen to the ground where it is invaded by all manners of parasites. When you don’t forgive others, you become bitter and grounded in whatever has hurt you. And in unforgiveness, devils have unlimited access to you because you cannot be forgiven for your sins while you’re in that hateful place.
Every man and woman alive has been hurt or betrayed by someone. That’s because there are good people and there are evil people in this world. And, at the same time, we often go into situations that GOD did not call us to enter, but HE will allow the consequences to drive us to the nearest exit and back into HIS will. HE not only says that HE loves us, but HE proves it by allowing us to be hurt. HIS will is not to kill you, but to get you to trust HIM and know that there is no alternate route to HIS blessings and to protect you from yourself. You either follow the path of HIS Word or you follow the path of your understanding where void will meet, dependency will greet you and consequences will beat you.
It’s a given. At some point, we all put our guards down, only to get slapped around by the truth. Therefore, people don’t betray us, we betray ourselves by disregarding the Word of GOD and trying to create our own truths. We will people into our lives without consulting GOD and they willingly betray us because we have given them something precious that they weren’t mature enough to hold. Would you give a one year old your precious diamond necklace to go and play with? No way! But, when you allow people into your life that GOD didn’t call in it or when you place people in the wrong position in your life, they can’t help but to wrong you because they are in the wrong place!
You thought you knew better than GOD. You trusted these souls and you tried to determine if and when they lied and you tried to render your own consequences. Didn’t GOD tell you to try the spirit by the Spirit to see if it is of GOD? But, you had your own test. Maybe you looked them in the eyes and tried to see if they would divert their eyes away and you could declare them an obvious liar. Maybe you looked for fidgety body language, stuttering, inconsistencies in stories, and so on. You have turned yourself into a human lie detector, and the hurtful part is, the truth has found you faulty. You cannot replace the Word of GOD with the knowledge of man because the devil is cunning. Very cunning. He isn’t so obvious all the time. In many cases, Satan has to be discerned with wisdom. Do you think a thief will walk up to you wearing a ski mask? Do you think a rapist would walk up to you naked? Of course not. But, we have learned to disregard Proverbs 3:5 by leaning to our own understanding and in doing so, we are challenging GOD and considering ourselves to be wise outside of HIM. And blessed be the name of the LORD; HE proves us wrong and in our broken state, we learn to trust HIM and to know that HIS Word is truth!
Nevertheless, the deed has been done and you’re probably amongst the many that proclaim that they have forgiven their assailants. And you probably have! But, then again…you probably haven’t! Since we can’t be forgiven for our sins if we don’t forgive others, lets take a short forgiveness exam.
Review and answer the questions below. You don’t have to answer them publicly. Your truthful answers will tell you just where you are.
1. Your enemy stole some money from you a couple of years ago. One day, while walking, you find their wallet and the amount in there is the EXACT amount that they stole from you. How would you handle this situation?
a. Give them back the wallet with all the money in it. Vengeance isn’t mine.
b. Take the money, but I’d return the wallet.
c. Take the money and toss the wallet of course! GOD is paying me back! Thank you JESUS!
d. Leave the wallet with the money on the ground. That’s not your problem.
Sometimes, GOD will place us in situations to show us what is still within us. If love is there, you’d return the wallet with the money in it and let the owner of the wallet decide if they want to redeem themselves or not. If they choose not to, no worries. GOD will reward you. The forgiveness answer is ‘A.’ Anything else….please pray.
2. You see your enemy getting attacked and mugged by a group of people. What would you do?
a. Call the police.
b. Join in and throw some kicks and punches.
c. Try to break up the fight.
d. Walk away and call your best friend to tell them how he/she finally got what they deserved.
Having compassion on another human being is evidence that GOD lives in you. If you could stand there and watch him/her get beat up or possibly killed, you haven’t forgiven them. Our enemies are not always GOD’S enemies. Sometimes, they are souls that are battling with sin, just like you did at some point in your life or just as you continue to battle. You may be battling something different, but we judge because we measure sin as bad, worse and worst when, to GOD, sin is sin. ‘A’ or ‘C’ would have been a forgiveness answer. Anything else….just pray.
3. A group of people that you know come and sit with you. They begin to tell you the latest bad news about your enemy and how he/she is going through a rough patch. Which of the following are you most likely to do?
a. Join in the gossip. How can I not enjoy something so juicy?
b. Listen to the gossip, but say nothing.
c. Laugh and rejoice. GOD is finally revisiting their sin! Hallelujah!
d. Suggest that they pray for them instead of talk about them.
Gossiping about a person who hurt you is no different than punching them. You are still retaliating when you gossip and your words have power. When you can sit and listen to the gossip, it is because you want to hear about your enemy’s fall. This is evidence that unforgiveness is lurking in the shadows. And it is not uncommon for people who go to church often to believe that GOD should repay their enemies. Many of them sit and wait for the day that the news will come about their enemy’s fall. This is a clue to what is in your heart. When hurt resides in the heart, it leaves a sinful residue of unforgiveness that is unmistakable. And when you hang around gossipers, it is because you are still hurting about something that happened to you. Happy people don’t like gossip. Your answer should have been ‘D.’ Anything else…please pray.
4. Driving down the road, you see your enemy’s car off on the side of the road with the hood up. They are standing there and smoke is rising from the engine. You remember that this person punched you and tried to destroy your name at one point in time. Which of the following are you most likely to do?
a. Pass them by and honk your horn. They need to see that they didn’t break you.
b. Pass them by, but don’t honk your horn. I hope they can punch the car or get close to the engine to keep themselves warm.
c. Stop and ask them if they need a ride somewhere and keep it between you and them.
d. Stop and ask them if they need a ride somewhere. When you get home, go to Facebook and tell the world how you just helped your enemy.
e. Stop and ask them if they need a ride, but when they try to get into the car; pull off.
I know you’re probably saying that it depends on what they did to you. But, if that person hasn’t placed you in harm’s way, why wouldn’t you stop the car? Sometimes it is the good deeds that we do for our enemies that may be that extra push that they need to come to CHRIST. And helping others should never be something that we advertise. GOD said in Matthews 6:4, “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (NLT) If you’ve got to announce it, chances are it’s because unforgiveness is trying to convince you and others that it does not live in you. If your answer wasn’t ‘C,’ please pray.
5. You’re leaving the supermarket and you hear a woman in front of you crying. She’s on her cellphone talking to someone about how she doesn’t have anything to eat and nowhere to go. But, this lady did you very wrong! A long time ago, she took your boyfriend, broke your apartment’s window, stalked you and even spit in your face. What would you do?
a. Try to find out how you can help and offer her an encouraging word. After all, she is a soul.
b. Pass her on by, making sure that she sees you laughing.
c. Stop to remind her of what she did and let her know that her troubles are a result of how wrong she did you. And then offer her prayer and a few dollars.
d. Stand there so she can see you, but offer no help. You just want to make your presence known.
e. Nothing. I’d just continue on to my car.
If she repented, GOD forgave her. Who are you to still place cuffs on her? Remember, love never fails. “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.” (Proverbs 25:21-22) We should never remind people of what they did to us; GOD gave them a conscious and a memory for that very reason. Your answer should have been ‘A.’ If anything else, please pray.
6. Your ex-boyfriend was horrible. He cheated on you with your best friend, ruined your credit and to make matters worse, when you broke it off with him, he set your beloved Hyundai on fire. He told you that you’d never amount to anything, but three years later, here you are with a successful career and a wonderful husband. Your ex-boyfriend sees you one day and stops to tell you how beautiful you are and how he regrets what he has done to you. By the way, he looks horrible. What’s your verdict?
a. Greet him and be friendly, but keep the conversation short. It’s over between us, but I have no hard feelings about that.
b. Stop and tell him how wonderful your life is now and ask him about his life. Oh and show him your big wedding ring!
c. Give him your phone number so you can discuss your new life and past life with him in depth. There’s nothing wrong with being friends, right?
d. Take a picture of him with your cellphone and post it up Facebook. Dude looks horrible! Ha!
How you react towards the man or woman who once had your heart will always show you where you stand. No, you shouldn’t open up any doors of communication with him and if you feel the need to show off, it is because unforgiveness is trying to cash in its check. When you really move on and forgive, you only desire that the person that wronged you will come to Christ and do well. When true love lives within, you will never desire to see a person at their worst, but you will only desire to see them at their best in CHRIST JESUS. By the way, how you react shows what has the power to move you. When we react, we are responding to an action. If you have forgiven him, there would be no negative reaction. The forgiveness answer is ‘A.’ Anything else…it’s time for prayer.
7. You’re working at a clothing store and there is a 20% off sale going on today. The sale was supposed to end at noon, but the manager told you that you could continue to give the customers 20% off all day if you so chose to. Your enemy comes to the counter, but doesn’t know about the sale and it’s after noon. You’ve been giving the 20% off to everyone, but not only does she come to the counter, but she shows her distaste for you by tossing the clothes on the counter and telling you to ‘hurry up.’ What would you most likely do?
a. Rules are rules. Her nasty attitude guaranteed that she wouldn’t get a discount.
b. Go on break. The manager can ring her up.
c. Ring her up and give her 20% off like you’ve done everyone else.
d. Ring her up and give her 20% off, but tell her that the sale ended at noon, and you’re only giving her the discount because you’re Christian.
Remember, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Love is not only patient, but love is kind. You never have to tell someone that you’ve done a good deed for them, nor should you treat them in a manner that represents the Kingdom of GOD in the wrong way. Let GOD use you to speak to her heart. Who knows? Your kind act may cause that dam of hatred to break in her, releasing the love of GOD that has been pent up in her. If you are a Christian, it ought to show….you don’t have to tell anyone.
Unforgiveness always shows its fruits. This is what you are to look for, even if you think you have forgiven your enemies. Love them when they are happy and love them when they are down. In the end, GOD created them for a reason. Holding someone accountable for what they did to you or someone you knew is the same as saying to GOD that you want to be held accountable for what you have done to others. Yes, even if what they did was far worse than what you have done to others…sin is sin and we are all undeserving of GOD’S love, but HE loves us anyway. I challenge you today to try this. Every one that comes into your life and does you wrong, pray for them more than you pray for the people that have done you right. Why, you ask? Because they need prayer the most.
Remember…when CHRIST was nailed to the cross, HE said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” You have to understand that when people wrong you, often times, they don’t really understand what they are doing. Sure, they know it’s wrong, but they don’t understand why. CHRIST could have said that you deserved hell for all you did, but instead, HE stretched out HIS arms and proved HIS love. Now, it’s your turn.