Summary: Forgiving endlessly is the doorway to spiritual breakthroughs, and may be the missing link in your search for spiritual power.
Welcome to FFC’s 50-Day Adventure! And our journey begins with a close look inside the issue of forgiveness. In fact, I’ve come to believe that few things are as hard to do as forgive. Yes, forgiveness is probably the single, most difficult thing to do. But when I do, it opens the door to freedom and blessing like nothing else.
In fact, my greatest spiritual breakthroughs have occurred during times when forgiveness was the deepest need in my life -- the geatest challengge I was facing. At my first church in Augusta in the last 80’s, key times in my marriage, at critical moments with our kids -- God was most real as I found the courage to forgive and be forgiven. It’s one of the hardest, yet most spiritually rewarding, disciplines we can be involved with.
Which is why the disciples said, “Lord, increase our faith!” You see, it was after the command to forgive endlessly that they cried out for supernatural strength – extraordinary faith! Why? Because that’s exactly what it takes to forgive like God – supernatural strength and extraordinary faith.
Essentially, I see a process/sequence to this text: Sin/Offense, then rebuke, then repentance, then forgiveness, then the realization that forgiveness is simply my obligation.
Of course, most of us struggle with the middle area…that “fork in the road” called forgiveness where we have to ‘let it go’ … “can I really forgive that person?” we ask ourselves. This is what we must do…we have to do…we need to do! Pray for the faith to forgive, the courage and strength to release others from your penalty! It will take every bit of spiritual fortitude you have…but for the sake of Christ, forgive!
Just in the last few weeks – recent months, too! – I’ve talked to people who have taken great strides in forgiveness. And it was the doorway to a spiritual breakthrough. I could tell you about Diane Watson, Randy Beridon, Tom Nesbitt...all people who found a new plane of spiritual freedom when they unlocked the door of their cell through forgiveness.
This is a plural passage, which means it was to the church as a corporate body. And what ONE THING kept Satan one step closer to winning (“advantage”)? Their unwillingness to forgive! WOW! An unforgiving spirit stifles church health and keeps us a “leg down” in our battle against evil!
Church, we cannot afford to hold grudges. Too much is at stake!
I remember when our sending church was broken into and vandalized. Do you know what we did once the intruders were caught? We brought in the offending party and officially forgave! It was good for our church to let go of that! Yes, justice occured through the legal system, and forgiveness occurred through the church.
It is true for our church as a body and it is true for your spiritual life as a Christian. More than anything, unforgiveness will prevent you from growing and becoming the disciple you were meant to be. Think about it – when we forgive, we are like God in the most fundamental way. After all, that’s what God does – he forgives! So when you and I refuse to forgive, we are unlike God in the most basic element. No wonder it stops our growth and maturity as disciples! It’s a prison, and you are the only one in it! Bitterness, resentment, and hatred start killing you. You slowly die all because you wouldn’t forgive.