Off The Hook!
Updated: Dec 10, 2018
MONDAYS WITH KERRI
I hear countless stories from ministry leaders, detailing the manner in which men and women are devouring each other emotionally and spiritually. If we choose to operate in our flesh we will always have an extremely difficult time when the enemy hits us here. With just one lie our enemy masterfully spirals us into jealousy, pride, hatred and unforgiveness towards one another. Essentially, his strategy is to create spiritual cannibalism in the Body of Christ.
In Mark 11:22-25 Jesus said to the disciples:
Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, 'May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,' and your command will be obeyed. All that's required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.
Often, Christians put much of their focus, time, and attention into growing their faith. It is easy to focus on just the first three verses of this passage. We are all well versed in the fact that we are to have faith the size of a mustard seed. We know we are to ask and believe that what we ask for will be given to us. These things are important and powerful. However, we must also heed verse twenty-five. We must forgive first! It is important to recognize that unforgiveness is one of the most socially acceptable sins in the Church today. It is the enemy of faith and it must be addressed Biblically.
We often seek to encourage someone who has been hurt or treated unfairly by saying, “I can’t believe they did that to you. What a jerk!” Instead of challenging each other to forgive, as we have been forgiven, we often “bless” harboring ill will and bitterness when someone is mistreated. We coddle each other in believing we deserve to be upset when we are treated unjustly. In doing so, without even realizing it, we are operating in and condoning a spirit of unforgiveness. This social norm does not add up to God’s law. He is very clear in this passage; we are not to come expecting Him to answer our prayers and grant us forgiveness until we choose to forgive others.
This is one of countless passages designed to guide us to look introspectively at ourselves and our sin, specifically the sin of pride that leads to unforgiveness. As we have seen, pride was the cause of the first fall. The Betrayer fell from Heaven because he wanted to be God. Pride puts us in the same position. In it we operate as though we know, see, and understand all things. Forgiveness requires a reassignment of our way and will, it requires that we walk by faith. When we forgive, we put The One who created us back on the Throne of our hearts and lives. We let the person who hurt us off of our hook because we trust Him to act on our behalf. That is the ultimate act of humility and faith!
It is important for us to prayerfully consider where we are in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. In order to forgive others, we must fully rely on His strength. Often this requires we first forgive any bitterness we have been harboring towards Him.
Do you need to forgive God? As odd as it may sound without realizing it, we hold Him in contempt for what He did, didn’t do, might have done, should have done, or could have done for us. Our relationship with Him is fractured when we harbor unforgiveness toward Him. It renders us spiritually paralyzed; we are unable to claim our identity as His Signet Ring–His Beloved.
Simply ask the Father to help you make the choice to forgive Him right now. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and list the things the He brings to your mind. Choose to forgive Him (out loud) for each thing you have been holding against Him on your list. For example, “Father I confess I have believed the lie that tells me you don’t love me because you have not sent me a husband. I reject that lie. I choose to forgive you for not bringing me a husband. I break all agreement with unforgiveness towards you in the name of Jesus!” Tell Him you want to receive His healing and that you need Him to rescue you out of the anger you have been living in. If you ask Him, He will be faithful to do it!
Galatians 5:7-10 further illustrates the importance of forgiveness.
You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from following the truth? It certainly isn't God, for he is The One who called you to freedom. But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others-a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been troubling and confusing you.
When we fall down emotionally or spiritually, it is almost always a direct result of the pain caused through a close relationship. This passage is powerful because it calls us away from a victim mentality and challenges us to choose who or what we will give power to. Paul makes his point through a simple question. Who tripped you up? You were doing well and then you fell down. Trust God to make things right for you. In the meantime, stay on track!
We are called to diligently put on the full armor of God because we are not wrestling with flesh and blood. We are in a war with powers, principalities, and wickedness in high places. Paul’s admonishment to stand firm in the face of adversity and evil is given directly after his instructions for relationships.
Therefore, as we take the Word of God in context, we can see that we will be hit hardest in our relationships with our husbands, children, bosses or employees. Yes, the war is against our relationships and the enemy is desperate to keep us stuck in the bondage of unforgiveness. He wants us to focus on our relationships. He wants us to believe that other people are the source of the attacks we face. He knows when we put our eyes on another, and agree with him in unforgiveness, we are down on the battle field, spiritually paralyzed.
We know forgiveness is of epic importance because Jesus prioritized it in His example to us in Matthew 6:12-15. Notice how He teaches us to pray:
…and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (For) If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Jesus is very clear in His message, if we want to receive the Father’s forgiveness, we must first give it. If we don’t forgive, we are in bondage to our enemy!
Who do you need to forgive? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring those people to your mind, write down their names and what they did to you. Again, verbally choose to forgive each of them individually. Ask for the Father’s help; it is only through Him that we can truly be forgiven, forgive others, and be freed from the bondage that has enslaved us. When we are hurt and we choose to forgive, we let the offender “off our hook” in the sense that we don’t expect them to make up for, or make right, what they have done.
We are freed when we choose to no longer hold them in contempt or live in the expectation that they, or the situation, might change. It is important to understand the healing process can take months or years beyond the point of forgiveness. As men and women, we need to honor the process our emotions go through in order to provide us with deep and lasting healing. This journey rarely, if ever, goes at our pace. It will usually last longer than we think it should. It is there, in the authentic process of healing, we become the men and women we were created to be. There is no greater chisel than pain. It creates beauty if we allow it to.
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