Sunday, 14 March 2010

Forgiveness : The Paths of Wisdom .

"Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves". Matthew 10:16.
In all human interactions offences would occur at least once,in a while.
No one can deny not having experienced feelings of anger and hurt when offended ; for anger is the natural reaction of any victim to an offence.
This post is the concluding part of my previous post:
"Offences : Stepping on Sore Toes".
Some people, easily, forget and forgive wrongs done to them but some people are like the proverbial elephant who never forgets!
They harbour malice and thoughts of revenge in their hearts , until they exact their "pound of flesh" for every offence committed against them.
It is easier for the victim of an offence to forgive minor wrongs or unintentional wrongs than to forgive offences which were done intentionally to cause maximum hurt , pain ,anger , loss and humiliation.
Also an offender who apologises to his victim (s),who shows genuine remorse and makes amends for his offence is more likely to be forgiven long before the offender who is adamantly unrepentant.

But what does the word of God say about forgiveness?
Do we forgive when it is convenient for us to so ; or when we "feel" like forgiving others ?
Should forgiveness be dispensed in measured doses: for "small" or "too great, too bad offences" against us?
Or is it right to forgive only when the culprit has apologised and compensated the victim for the offence?
What does our God say about anger ,bitterness and forgiveness?
"Be ye angry ,and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give room to the devil". Ephesian 4:26
He even goes further by telling us how frequent and to what measure our forgiveness should be :Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times : but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:22.

Forgiveness ,is the attribute of our Father, the loving , merciful Three -in-One God and it MUST be also inherent in us Christians, his children.
A child would always resemble his or her parents. Just as a dog begets a dog and a goat begets a goat!
God calls us his children ; and that is what sets the Christian apart from all the other peoples on earth who serve gods who are merciless and vengeful.
For those whose values and mind frames are based on the principles of "An eye for an eye!"; based on a culture of revenge, murder and mayhem, forgiveness is a HARD thing for them to do.
Forgiveness is a supernatural act. It is based on a determination to die to self; made possible by power of the Holy Spirit.
In the life of a spirit-filled Christian , the milk of human kindness should flow .
Whatever the offences against us, God demands that we forgive those who have wronged us ; as we have been forgiven by Him. Mark 11: 24-26.
Furthermore , Vengeance is God's responsibility. He knows how best to avenge for us, every wrong we have suffered.
I can testify that God does execute perfect vengeance on behalf of his children.
You could think you are strong or powerful enough to fight for yourself. Then you could decide to be hasty and exact revenge on your known enemies.
What of your secret enemies who know you but you don't even know them ?
Enemies who monitor your life ; watching your every action and speech ,plotting evil deeds against you ; yet you are not even aware of their existence ?
And when you are fast asleep, snoring, with your mouth open; who fights for you then ?
God neither slumbers no sleeps; he is omnipotent and omniscient and he alone has the power to fight and overcome all known and unknown enemies !

Someone had asked me if forgiveness was that easy , then why has God not forgiven Satan and restored him to his former position as second in command in Heaven?
People understand God better by asking questions . The answer to this question would give an insight into how God wants us to live a life of forgiveness.
We thank God for the liberty of being able to ask such questions in the Church, without fear of being beheaded or going into hiding for daring to ask!
God Almighty is the Sovereign God. Whatsoever he pleases , he does in heaven and on earth. He could choose to be or not to be merciful , gracious or accessible to certain persons . His ways are past finding . Who can question him?
As it is written , Jacob have I loved , but Esau have I hated . Romans 9:13
What was Esau's offence and why was Jacob , his younger brother preferred by God even BEFORE the twins were born ? Genesis 25:23.

The Bible says , " And there was war in heaven...." Revelation 12:7-9.
If Satan could look God Almighty in the face and wage war against God inside heaven ; why would anyone be surprised that he and his demon-possessed children are waging wars all over the world ; against everybody and even against themselves!
Satan was cast out of heaven for his rebellion against God . Isaiah 14:12-15.
God could have ordered his angels of war to destroy Satan , immediately after his sin of rebellion and treason ; but God allowed Satan to leave heaven and make his abode on Planet Earth.
Although Satan received mercy from God , Satan has not forgiven God and has continually waged war against God ; for two main reasons.
The first reason being Satan's anger and bitterness because of his failure to usurp control from God which led to his humiliating exit from his exalted position in Heaven. Satan was thrown out, accompanied by millions of fallen angels whom he had succeeded in deceiving to join him in his rebellion.
These evil beings made the Earth their place of abode and operational headquarters.
Today , Satan and his millions of evil spirits are worshipped as "gods" by billions of peoples on earth.
These demonic spirits enter into and possess human beings and use them to commit horrendous offences against mankind , all over the earth.
From the beginning of Satan's presence on the Earth, billions of people have been deceived and are being deceived even till today, by Satan.
Satan , the perpetual liar and impostor appears to them , demanding their worship and he makes them believe that they are worshipping the one "true God"; when they are actually, worshipping Satan and his evil spirits! John 10:10 .
" There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" Proverbs 14:12.

Secondly, Satan hates God and cannot forgive God for coming to the earth; in human form as Jesus the Christ , the Son of the Living God.
Jesus Christ came to expose Satan's lies and to show Mankind the Way back to God!
" He that committeth sin of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested , that he might destroy the works of the devil".1 John 3:8b.

When you hate someone , you hate his children and everything and every symbol which reminds you of that person.
The same implacable and passionate hatred which Satan has for God ; he and his children manifest the same hatred against the Gospel of Christianity, the symbol of Salvation which is the Cross, against the Church and born again Christians!
Nothing drives Satan and his children mad and incensed with rage than the mention of THAT name JESUS and the sight of a Christian preaching the message of the Gospel!
Of course , Satan doesn't mind the existence of dormant Christians!
Satan uses his nation on earth; comprising of millions of demon-possessed persons as his weapons of hatred to attack, weaken and kill as many people as possible , especially Christians.
Their feet are swift in shedding blood ; NEVER in doing anything good!
In fact , nothing sets them off into wild cheering and jubilation, than the news or sight of war, of beheadings and bloodshed ; especially the blood of Christians !
"You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him.
When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it". John 8:44.

As Satan and his gang of murderers were defeated in the beginning ; so they remain our defeated foes even till today. They are under our feet.
We are required to forgive our foes as our God forgives us .
But , Wisdom is "crying in the streets", on our behalf, that we MUST RECOGNISE and DISCERN the difference between Forgiveness and Foolishness.
We endeavour to follow peace with all men , as is required from us as Christians ,in a hostile world. But God does not demand for foolishness leading to ultimate destruction as a proof of our obedience of His commandment of Forgiveness .
The lives and properties of many Christians have been lost and destroyed because of ignorance and lack of knowledge of the Word of God about forgiveness !

The Wisdom of God cautions us against those people we have forgiven, who continue to harbour implacable hatred and thoughts of murder in their hearts against us !
The following Bible verses are, all , apt descriptions and symbols of the Enemy, Satan; as they manifest in demon-possessed men and women.
"...wolves.." Matthew 10:16, Luke 10:3.
"....serpents and scorpions.." Luke 10:19.
" .. thieves , robbers , liars and murderers." John Chapter 10.
"... a roaring lion ,walking about, seeking whom to devour". 1 Peter 5:8;
"..they have become unprofitable,..the poison of asps is under their lips. Romans 3:13
" They do not know the way of peace, destructions and misery are in their ways. Their feet are swift to shed blood. No fear of God in the eyes ". Romans 3:14 - 18.
"... beasts at Ephesus...." 1 Corinthians 15:32.
These characters sound scary but they are real and are very active all over the place!

The Good News is that we have been given power to tread on them and to over overcome them with love and forgiveness.
But we should not give them easy access into our lives and allow them to wreck havoc !
God has not sent us on a mission of self-destruction by foolish living!.
People keep wild animals and poisonous snakes as pets. They tame these pets , feed them and treat them with love and affection.
Yet they keep these wild and dangerous creatures where they belong ; in cages!
No sane persons would give free access to dangerous characters to enter their lives and give them their privileged secrets .
You could forgive lions and serpents who have vowed to kill you ; but do not " forgive and forget" past offences and then put your head inside the "tame" lion's mouth or insert your finger into the snake's mouth!
You could decide to forgive the devil by dining with him ; but always dine with the devil with a very long spoon and with both your eyes open !

Hezekiah ,the God -fearing King of Israel ,had a forgiving and forgetting heart .
He had visions of "World Peace " and good intentions of forgiving and forgetting his former sworn enemies. ( Isaiah 39: 1-8 )
King Hezekiah was very magnanimous and eager to take the hand of friendship extended to him by Me-rodach-baladan , son of the King of Babylon .
He gladly welcomed emissaries from Babylon and gave them a grand tour of his palace and of all his dominion. He showed them all his treasures!
Hezekiah displayed the spirit of true forgiveness towards his old enemy, whom he thought was genuinely repentant and was offering the "olive branch" of reconciliation.
However,immediately after Hezekiah's gesture, the reprimand from God concerning his actions came through Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 39:3-8.
This prophecy about the repercussion of Hezekiah's foolishness, surely, came to pass; according to God's warning.
(2 Kings 24:10-16 )
The lesson here is that if you have forgiven someone , you would be naive to assume that that person has forgiven and forgotten the enmity between you ,even as you have forgiven them.
Forgiveness is holy and desirable ; foolishness and madness are not.
" Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine,lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you". Matthew 7:6.

There is therefore a difference between Forgiveness and Restoration .
Reconciliation is that bridge linking FORGIVENESS to RESTORATION of friendship.
Both you, the victim and the offender have to BUILD bridges to enable you reach the desired goal of restored peace, love and harmony in that relationship.
If you are building bridges through forgiveness and forgetting offences and the other persons are pulling down the bridges , the reconciliation process would collapse .
Until you get to that point of restoration and MUTUAL willingness to live in peace with your enemy ; the counsel from the Word of God is:
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep walking and suffer for it". Proverbs 27:12.
Continue to love and forgive your enemies. Follow peace with all men ; but get His Wisdom; be wise , be vigilant always.
Thou through thy commandments have made me wiser than my enemies : for they are ever with me. Psalm 119: 98

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