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St. Paul writes to Timothy giving us a picture of how it will look just before the second coming of the Lord. He shares that people will be “unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good” (2 Timothy 3:3). In the end times there will be a great shift in how people live and act worldwide. Jesus spoke of children who will betray parents and how people will even want to put Christians to death (Matthew 24:9-10). But we see the root of the issue in the attitudes of human hearts, and committed believers in Jesus Christ are not excluded. Not having love, not forgiving, and speaking evil of other good believers will be just part of the coming spirit of anti-Christ in the world. Unforgiveness is a prison, a torturer. It will rob us of our joy, peace and even physical health. Jesus knew mankind and he knew that a great problem that many deal with is forgiving others. It is one of our Lord’s primary teachings and the apostles were very keen to this. Peter said to Jesus in answer to his question of forgiveness, seven times! He understood that Jesus said to be extravagant in our forgiveness of others, and the current teaching by rabbis in that day was to forgive three times and then seek revenge. Our Lord’s response showed the extent of how God forgives and how those who claim to follow him should forgive, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). Do you find it hard to forgive other brothers and sisters in the Lord? Do you find it hard to love others in the body of Christ because of hurtful things that were done to you? Are you speaking evil of those brothers and sisters and judging them? It is very important that we are clear of all such sin and are full of love, forgiveness and using our mouths to show mercy and love to others in order to restore them (Galatians 5:1). Early believers lived in great anticipation of the coming of the Lord, and the thought of holding a grudge in unforgiveness with a believer and then entering eternity with this sin was unthinkable. In speaking about disputes, St. James writes, “Don’t grumble against one another” (James 5:9). The terrible reality to him was that the Judge was standing at the door, the Lord was coming back soon.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. - Ephesians 4:31 Bitterness is something we feel never will happen to us. We go through life opening our hearts to many people, seeking friendship in this life. But when we least expect it someone hurts us, or circumstances themselves come to a place where we allow bitterness to come into our hearts towards even God himself. Feeling angry and disappointed over how we have been treated or how circumstances have treated us produce great bitterness in our being. This feeling we hold in is suppressed in our hearts and not see at first in our daily life. But it starts to seep out its poison slowly in our words (James 3:7), and mind, we start to judge everyone, say cynical and hard comments towards others. Usually this hurt is directed towards a person or specific situation. Anything that would remind the hurt person of this situation will result in their hurt to come out in words that damage and tear down others. In the verse before this passage the Apostle Paul speaks of not grieving the Holy Spirit as believers in Jesus. He shares that Disciples must "get rid" of all of these hurt feelings that result in resentment, anger, frustration, hurtful words towards other persons. If we allow any unforgiveness as believers to rest in our hearts it will grow like a cancer and create bitterness and then our inner man is defiled with all these sins of anger. The Apostle pleads with fellow believers to forgive "each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32). That is the only solution and way to solve the problem. Getting even, hurting someone else or an organization will not result in releasing you from the personal prison of bitterness you are in. Forgiveness is the key that will open that door so that you may walk in the freedom Christ has called you in and then you will be able to help release others who even caused the hurt in your own life.
greggordon posted a topic in God, Church & FaithI am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! – Genesis 45:4 Many of us have heard the dramatic story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. This young man gets abused and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He suffers greatly in prison and in other circumstances. Finally in an amazing turn of events, God brings him to a great place of prominence where he is one of the most powerful people in the known world. Many of us have had terrible things done to us in this life, and if we have not, just wait, it is coming. This world is full of hurt lives where we are sinned against in great ways. Joseph had such a great terrible thing done to him, his brothers even contemplated murdering him in the beginning. Now he was in the position and had the power to exact perfect vengeance to them. But what did he do? He forgave them completely. He actually was in such a place of realizing God’s grace and he did not even bring up any of their sins and details of what they did but just wanted to bless them! Jesus teaches us to bless our enemies (Matthew 5:44) To bless those who curse us (Luke 6:28). To “never avenge yourselves” (Romans 12:19). Bless those who persecute you (Romans 12:14). Joseph does not tell his brothers that he was the “one you sold into Egypt” to condemn them, rather he really wanted them to know he was there brother and he loved them greatly still. How do we get to the place where we can bless our others in the body of Christ that sin against us? How can we even get to the place were we can forgive enemies in this world? We are called to forgive but blessing seems like its too much. When we forgive at times we actually still secretly hope they will be exposed or judged for their sin, or at the judgment seat they will get whats coming to them. Such thinking is not forgiveness but a form of vengeance masked in a guise of spiritual humility. When we truly forgive someone as Christ forgives us, we need to come to the place where we can bless them and desire God’s blessing also on their lives. Do you realize God will actually bless your enemies and pour his grace and favour on their lives? Think of anyone that you have had or have ought against, think of their face and person, do you want that person blessed? It takes brokenness to bless others who hurt you. Joseph went through terrible circumstances but God was bringing him to a place of nothingness where he could share in the sufferings of Christ and have the heart of God. In the end when we bless and forgive others we will be blessed by God himself. God wants to anoint those who are free from bitterness in their Christian lives. Heavenly Father, I release, forgive and also bless that individual who caused me harm and hurt. In Jesus Name please bless them with your favour and forgiveness. Amen.