Posted on September 15, 2011 by Alfreda Evans
The concept of forgiveness is central to the life of the Christian. Jesus was our perfect example of forgiveness. As he was hanging on the cross, about to give up his very life for our sins, He taught us by precept and example how to forgive. In Luke 23: 24 he cried out to His heavenly Father for those who were in the very process of persecuting Him:
Luke 23:34 (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Forgiveness is defined as the process of stopping or ending all resentment, indignation, or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake. It is ceasing to demand any punishment, or restitution for anything that was done. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt’. A few years back we had a popular little phrase that went: Let it go, Louie. No matter what the situation may be, you’ve got to let it go, Louie.
Sometimes flesh just does not want to let go of little injustices. I’ll use myself as an example. An individual did something to me once that was so terrible I couldn’t wait to tell everybody I knew how I had gone through. Ooo, I knew that when I told it that all my friends would see, not only how awful the individual was that did the thing to me, but they would see just how badly I had been treated. Man, they would feel so sorry for me. I would be like a martyr in their eyes. But God broke up my pity party. He spoke to my heart and said, “I have comforted you.” I was like… “Aw man”. When God said that He had comforted, then there was no need to tell anyone else. What, no brownie points?” He poked a hole in my balloon and took all of the wind out of my sails. Then He let me know that the way that I could tell that I had truly forgiven the individual would be if I refused to mull over or mention the incident again.
So who actually benefits from forgiveness? Not only does the person who is forgiven benefit, but the individual who forgives benefits even more. Research studies have found that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. Recently I saw a little sign that said:
“Forgiveness is not something that we do for other people, We do it for ourselves to get well and move on”.
Something that a great woman of God said to me changed my whole understanding about how we are able to forgive. She said, “Sis. Alfreda, I forgive people, even if they never ask me to do it. I just can’t hold onto things that people do to me. I learned that from my Mother”. Those powerful words are words that we all need to learn to live by. Just let it go, Louie.
What does the Bible teach us about forgiveness? The story of the Prodigal son is one of the most powerful lessons on forgiveness that we should learn to emulate. The Prodigal Son unjustly asked his Father for his inheritance, then squandered the money away. After the son fell into a destitute state, he came to himself, went back to his Father and repented. His father forgave him of his transgressions. The story is found in Luke 15: 11-32. Prodigal Son’s father forgave him. But even if the individual never repents, we must forgive them. You can do it because the Holy Spirit that lives within you empowers you to do what you could not do alone.
I want to share a story of how God was able to use forgiveness so that a soul could be saved. This is the true story, not a parable, of a young woman who gave her life to Christ. When she got saved and filled with the Holy Ghost it stirred up the very devil in her husband. He decided that he didn’t want to be married to her anymore, so in the middle of winter, he put her out of their home. He took everything that she had and put her and their child out of the house that they built together. He ultimately divorced her and re-married someone who was not saved. Fortunately, God had already prepared a way for her and a Saint took her and her child in until she could get established. God gave her a house, car, a good job, everything that she needed to raise her child. Thirty years passed and the man became ill. He fell in his kitchen and hit his head on the edge of his concrete countertop and developed a bleed in his brain. That little wife that he had thrown out and the son that he rejected, ran to his bedside, along with a number of other family members, prayed that God would give the man clarity long enough to be saved and God honored that request and saved him. He was able to make it into Heaven because the Saint, her saved Son, and other family embers prayed for him. Look at what would have happened if the woman and her son had not forgiven the man.
One more story on forgiveness. A young woman‘s parents were separated when the child was three years old. Her grandparents raised her and her siblings because the parents never reunited. The young woman grew up angry and bitter towards her mother, not because she hated her, but because the child loved her Mother so much. The child simply could not understand why her Mother did not love her enough to raise her. As the child reached adulthood, God began to deal with her heart. He saved her and filled her with the Holy Ghost. The young woman was ill with an ulcer at the time of her salvation and began seeking God for the healing of her body. While sitting and watching Christian TV one morning the Lord spoke through the TV minister. He said, “There is a young woman out there who is seeking God for the healing of an ulcer. God said that if you will call your Mother and ask her to forgive you for being angry with her all of your life He will heal you”. The young woman answered the TV Minister and said, “Why should I be the one to ask her to forgive me? She’s the one who did it.” The TV Minister’s response was “Yes, but who has the ulcer?” The young woman realized that she was actually arguing with God. She called her Mother and asked for forgiveness. Both she and her Mother broke down, cried and talked for hours. God healed that relationship. Not long after, God allowed this young woman to pray her Mother through to the Holy Ghost. God gave them both the beautiful Mother/ daughter relationship that they both had longed for. Needless to say, God healed that young woman of the ulcer when her Pastor laid hands on her and prayed for her. I know both of these stories to be true because I am the young woman in both stories.
We’ve talked about what can happen when we forgive but there’s another side of the story. What can happen if we don’t forgive? According to Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
In Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV) Peter asked a question regarding forgiveness:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. (Around $290,850,000).
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. (He only owed him the equivalent of $17).
29 And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Now that’s a serious concept. If we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us of our trespasses. We have to learn to be Teflon people. A good Teflon coated pan will not let anything stick to it. The enemy will continually try to have unforgiveness stick to us, but we have to just shake it off. We cannot allow forgiveness to stick. Even if the individual never ask, make sure that you have forgiven them. Then, when your little issues come up, God can forgive you.
Some may say, “I try to forgive but I can’t forget.” Forgiveness, like love, is an act of your will. You choose to forgive, therefore you do. Whenever thoughts of not forgiving come up, rebuke those thoughts and refuse to entertain them. If you have the Holy Ghost, you have the power to do it. If you have not received it make that a Number One priority and get the power that you need. If you need further information re: receiving the Holy Ghost, come and visit us at Full Gospel Holy Temple World Hdq., Dallas, TX. We’ll pray for you. God bless you.