Once again, I want to thank you for spending this time with me. I am continually blessed by all the prayer requests and responses that have been sent in. It is an honor to pray for you and rejoice with you over what the Lord is doing!
Today I want to speak to you about a subject that I believe touches all of us at one time or another. That is the subject of forgiveness. I recently heard a testimony of a relationship that had been broken for 30 years — a mother and a daughter had not spoken to each other and could not be in the same room with each other for 30 years. The devil had his hold on that relationship, but through forgiveness, that mother and daughter are now speaking kindly to each other and enjoying one another’s presence. That is why this subject is on my heart today. We have to close the door to the enemy so he can’t come in and wreak havoc in our relationships with one another. And we can do that through forgiveness.
Forgiveness opens the door of Heaven to our relationships.
I want to tell you another story that illustrates this truth so powerfully. We’ve lived in the former Soviet Union since 1991. Once when we were ministering at a church in Ukraine, a lovely lady we knew was leading worship and I had the opportunity to talk to her. She was there with her son and her husband, whom she said was her second husband.
I said to this woman, “You have a beautiful family. How was it with your first husband?” (I felt free to ask that question because we were close and were having a heart-to-heart conversation.)
She answered, “I’ll tell you my story. After I married my first husband, he became an abusive alcoholic. He even abused our son, which affected him mentally — so, finally, I divorced him.”
After this woman divorced her husband, she heard the Gospel, received Jesus, and became filled with the Holy Spirit. After a while, she started getting more and more inwardly bothered by a thought she couldn’t seem to escape: I’ve got to forgive this man. A great work of the Holy Spirit was going on inside of her.
Later the woman remarried, and she noticed that she was starting to accuse her second husband of the same offenses her first husband had been guilty of — but her second husband wasn’t even doing those things. It was all in her mind. She was still hooked to the offender through unforgiveness, and she was bringing the ill effects of that inner “hook” into her second marriage.
This woman could only see her second husband through the lens of the pain and hurt of her first husband. And to add to her pain, every day she saw the effects of her first husband’s cruelty and abuse in her son, who had suffered some mental disabilities as a result. But even with her soul screaming so loudly with the pain of what she had gone through, she was convicted in her spirit that she needed to forgive her first husband. She prayed about it often: “God, please free me from this bitterness. I know I have to forgive him.”
One day the woman was cleaning out her apartment that was filled with things that needed to be thrown away. By the end of a day of hard work, she had stuffed many bags with trash to throw out and was so pleased with all the work she had done.
Then the woman looked over and saw a tiny piece of paper on the counter and immediately thought, I’d better get that. At that instant, the Holy Spirit spoke to her heart: Do you see that big pile of trash that you’ve gathered and are so proud of?
She answered, “Yes, Lord, I’m so happy to get rid of all that trash!”
The Holy Spirit continued, The debt you owed Me is like that huge pile of trash. And do you see that tiny piece of paper? That’s like the debt of offense and pain your ex-husband owes you. In comparison to the weight of sin I removed from you, his offense is very small.
That was the moment of revelation this woman needed. Right then, she forgave her first husband and released him from the debt of offense he owed her. And it wasn’t long afterward that God healed her son!
Forgiveness is truly one of the most important things that we do in our walk with God, because we were forgiven. If He hadn’t forgiven us, there would be no hope of Heaven, no love of God in our hearts, nor any ability to forgive. There would be no hope of all the benefits He has given us — healing, soundness of mind, peace, and so much more. But God did forgive us, so it is our responsibility to say, “Father, I also choose to forgive.”
We have the power to do what God requires of us. He gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, and we have the love of God shed abroad by the Spirit in our hearts (see Romans 5:5). We just have to avail ourselves of that love by faith and say, “Lord, I know that You and I can do this together. I can forgive and release those who have offended me. Lord, You know what they did to me. But You also know all that I have done to grieve You. Yet You paid my debt. You took all the punishment of sin for me so I wouldn’t be punished. You forgave me; now it’s my turn to forgive every person who has hurt or wronged me and to release them from the debt they owe me.”
Forgiveness is a really big thing with God. It is the reason He was able to redeem us. He brought us into reconciliation with Himself through the forgiveness of sin.
This subject of forgiveness is so important that Jesus even said, “If you don’t forgive, your Heavenly Father won’t forgive you” (see Mark 11:25). Since we need to receive the forgiveness and mercy of God, we must give the forgiveness and mercy of God. We need to acknowledge and act on His love that has been shed abroad in our hearts and on the power that is within us to forgive.
Friend, I have told you before that bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment are not foreign to my own heart and that in my situation many years ago, God delivered me from the horrible trap I was in. If God is speaking to you through this letter and you realize you need to reach out to someone and ask for his or her forgiveness for all the resentment you’ve carried in your heart against them because of how that person hurt you, I encourage you to make that bold step. I want to pray for you:
Father, I pray for my friend right now to be courageous and to be humble before your Word. If this precious person needs to open the door of forgiveness that in turn opens the door of Heaven to his or her relationships, help my friend to be obedient. I thank you for Your mercy and grace and Your love that has been poured out in this person’s heart by the Holy Spirit. I pray for encouragement to do the right thing, and as Your coming draws closer, that we all continue to close any doors that could let the enemy into our relationships or our heart, mind, or body. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I share more about this important subject in my new book Unstoppable, which I encourage you to purchase if you haven’t already. In it, I teach in depth about pressing through fear, unforgiveness, and the negative opinions of others to fulfill your divine destiny.
Let’s keep our hearts free from offense and continue moving forward together.