Forgiving Others is Critical
From the Word of the Lord within:
“Salvation is not judging.”
"As your eyes are closed to the sins of others, so doubly are my eyes closed to yours."
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Forgiveness is the key to spiritual progress. Unless we forgive the injustices done to us, we do not receive the forgiveness of God for our transgressions. Look at the Lord's prayer: there is only one requirement for us identified in it: forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. We forgive to become free of the disease of resentment, which eats away our peace, our love, and our happiness.
We forgive and don't take revenge, knowing that vengeance is reserved to God: Vengeance is mine. Deu 32:35, Rom 12:17-19
George Fox wrote: "Forgiveness is more than with the mouth."
From the Word of the Lord within:
"Forgive and forget."
The challenge for all of us in this life is to forgive and forget. We can know something is wrong, attempt to forgive in our mind, but can't forget; which prevents us from forgiving in our heart. The symptom of this bondage is to constantly recall the circumstances of the injustices and replay them in our minds, which only reinforces our resentment of the original injustice.
The Lord is our example. As he was crucified, he prayed for the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him for they didn't know what they were doing. He is the ultimate example. There is no greater injustice than for his own people to have crucified him, when he had healed entire cities of every sickness and disability, raised the dead, restored the sight of the blind, and spoke nothing but truth; yet as he was in unimaginable pain and dying, he prayed for their forgiveness. Now, if there ever was a justification for anger, this horrible crucifixion of the most humble man to walk the earth, had to be the one; yet the Lord did not get angry. So, by his monumental forgiveness of those who murdered him, we know there is never justification for us holding onto anger. He was sorrowful, with sorrow almost to death, knowing what would happen to him. And his reaction was sorrow at the colossal injustices he suffered, but not anger; sorrow, not for himself, but sorrow for how wrong his errant children were.
There are many who justify their anger saying: "the Lord got angry when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple." My reply is: "no, he was not angry like a man gets angry; he was under perfect control and knew exactly what he was doing, for he said he never judged anything himself, but only as he heard the Father's judgments; further he only said what he heard the father tell him to say, and only did what the Father showed him to do." Anger is a judgment that we make ourselves, and when we judge someone else critically, we suffer the same judgment: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
Until we are perfected, we cannot help getting angry in some circumstances, but we are told: do not let the sun go down on your anger. Eph 4:26
This is not saying that nothing is wrong that anyone can do. I deplore wrongful acts, but those dealt out to me, I realize I must forgive the person and forget, otherwise I suffer even further. Love keeps no record of wrongs. John says: Anyone who hates his brother has committed murder in his heart. (1 John 3:15). Anger is the opposite of forgiveness. You cannot forgive someone and still be angry with them.
So, the solution is two-fold:
1) to realize all anger is a false illusion to disguise your own failure to deal with an injustice by overlooking it, and when you find yourself swirling in recall of an injustice, to remember anger is false and stop entertaining it, no matter how logical it all seems. Your mind will try to convince you that this injustice is the exception and all anger is not wrong; but that is just your carnal (Satanic) mind trying to justify itself.
2) more importantly, when you find yourself swirling in remembrance of injustice, to fervently pray for the person who wronged you. I pray for them to be helped to find true happiness. (This is not praying for them to be happy in the midst of their wrongness, for despite appearances, they suffer for every injustice they deal out.) I leave their route to happiness with God. I just want them to eventually be happy, and that is what I specifically pray for. Also pray for the Lord to help you be rid of the anger and resentment.
There is another powerful tool in that prayer. Visualize yourself hugging and embracing that person with affection.
If I have trouble doing this, I ask myself this question: do I wish this person to suffer the pain of Hell, when I myself have done equal or worse things, for which God has forgiven me? No, I would forgive everyone of every wrong done to me, to prevent them from suffering in Hell. And so, I then find it possible to visualize embracing them in love. You cannot imagine what a relief this is, to be free from resentment in this manner, for blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Mat 5:7
This prayer and visualization can be done while waiting on the Lord, when the negative events come up for replay. Pause to remember there is no justification for anger, and immediately start praying for those who have hurt you. This is how to receive the Lord's help, which is often necessary to help us remove the hurt from our heart, so we can forget.
William Penn has said: "When your neighbor wrongs you, do not resent him; rather have pity for his lack of wisdom and understanding that would prevent his wrongful acts. We should make more haste to do right to our neighbor, than we do to wrong him; and instead of being revengeful, we should leave him to be judge of his own satisfaction or dissatisfaction with his unjust acts."
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged [from the heart]. Prov 16:6
And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him.
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if each of you from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. Mat 18:34-35
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression. Pro. 19:11
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Luke 11:4.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Col 3:8
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Eph 4:31
To pray for enemies helps us, and it also helps those who have hurt us. The Lord told us to love our enemies and pray for our enemies, to bless those who persecute us, to repay evil with good -- because that not only helps us, it helps the enemy to see his faults and motivates him to change.
Therefore "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink.
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If you don't get angry at someone who is treating you wrong, your peace and love convict them of their wrongness on the spot. But if you get angry at someone who hurts you, all they see is your wrongness, and they feel even more justified in their injustice.
The just shall live by faith.
If you are seeking God as your first priority in life, the sooner you understand that everything that happens to you has been arranged to help you grow, the sooner you will be able to forgive, and the sooner you will be at peace, rather than angry or resentful. This life is an illusion. God is far more powerful and at work around you far more than you can imagine. For those whom he loves and calls, he controls everything around them. (This arrangement of circumstances only occurs for those whom he loves and calls.) All things [people included] work together for good for those who love him and are called to his purpose. Rom 8:28. And if you have a deep hunger, he loves you and has called you. The hunger is his gift to you. It is his way of drawing you to him. So you will starve and mourn, and starve and mourn. But you will eventually be filled and comforted. It works. Trust Him. He created you. He is in you. He knows you much better than you do. He will change you to be like Him, leading you to purity and then to union with Him in the Kingdom within, where you walk by the Light of God.
The Word of the Lord within has told me, "live in the fortress of faith where it doesn't matter if someone gives you a kiss or hits you with a baseball bat," knowing everything that happens to me is totally under his control and direction. So if I get hit with a baseball bat, he is teaching me the necessity of forgiving, to ignore it, despite the pain suffered and wrongness of the person wielding the bat. Your life is an obstacle course, designed by God, for you to crawl over and through, learning to forgive and love despite the pain and injustice. This life is a boot camp to produce a soldier of love, whose weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the living word of God. When you realize it is God who has allowed that person to be rude, ugly, and painful to you, you can easily forgive them because they are just an obstacle of potential resentment, whose offence is to be overlooked, (or if not overlooked, to produce the pain of resentment), thus being used by God to help you spiritually progress.
How do I live in that fortress of faith? The Word of the Lord within taught me "to expect nothing;" therefore I am not surprised or disappointed. I am not perfected, so sometimes I have to just remain quiet, or withdraw. Other times I am able to simply understand that what is happening to me is arranged by the Lord to help me overcome a problem I have; then I can fall back on my faith and not react. I have to realize that I can't overcome a problem, until I am faced with the temptation to be angry and say something critical back; so I can see the injustice as just a test to help me grow, and it is much easier to forgive the person dispensing the injustice.
Others have written that when faced with any temptation, they simply flee to the Lord, and depend on his grace. My wife has been taught by the Lord to just be sad when attacks occur, as the Lord himself reacted to the injustices he suffered. For me, I need to remind myself that what is happening is the Lord's will to help me grow - and that really works for me. I can relax and even internally smile when I remember that.
Forgiveness is part of carrying your cross. To forgive is to deny your human nature that wants to strike back; even if you don't actually strike, you want to. Denying that impulse and falling back on your faith, to accept everything as from the hand of God, is carrying the cross; saying to yourself: the Lord's will be done, which is the opportunity for my own growth in overlooking this offense, even if it is loved ones delivering the injustice, which makes you sad.
Loved ones often treat us unjustly as a way to unconsciously control and manipulate us; as you cease to react, (even if only with your eyes and facial expressions), they will not get the satisfaction of the control they were seeking, and eventually drop their normal routine, searching for some other way to pull your chain. Expect your close family to be the source of many of your troubles because the Lord told us: Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not came to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law. A man's foes shall be those of his own household. Mat 10:34-36. He uses our family as the polishing stones of temptation, which are designed to grind off our rough edges until we are smooth.
The worst part about being attacked by members of your family, is that they know you so well, their attack twists your innocent actions to look evil; and that can be frightening. Realize, that is exactly the way the devil condemns us; he twists our actions into the worst possible light, accusing us of evil motivations, hoping to depress us, discourage us, or make us angry. When you have been under instruction from the Lord for awhile, he will tell you: "Let no one judge you." He is the only judge. Paul said he didn't even judge himself. Remember, that people are only trying to pull your chain and get the satisfaction of making you angry or depressed; your best defense is to remain calm. The Lord has told us, "drop out of the conversation; let their words go over your head." After you drop out, with no one fighting back, some will abandon their attack. Others will continue; when they pause, calmly leave. If you get angry, withdraw at the earliest moment and then pray for them, to release your anger. The Lord has told us, "don't stand in front of volcanoes;" volcanoes being angry people erupting— calmly withdraw at the first pause. Why should you listen to irrational angry people? When people are angry, they are taken over by their emotions; what they say is not what they would say without anger. It is their anger that speaks, not themselves; anger is irrational, so don't bother to consider if what they are saying is true. When you leave, you might, (only if you think the subject needs resolution), say to them: "when you have calmed down, I am available to discuss this further, but it is pointless to continue our discussion now."
There are some people who have been conditioned by their upbringing to think that if someone is angry at them, it is their fault. Others are conditioned to fight back. Both are equally wrong. Drop out; if that doesn't work, walk away.
Forgiveness, mercy, and not judging are all related. Judge not, so that you are not judged. Mat 7:1. To judge and be judged is not God punishing you; rather it is you punishing yourself by harboring resentment that results from your judging. You can't correctly judge someone because you have not walked in their shoes, but God has from the time they were born; he has witnessed every word, every thought, every action, every incident in their lives. So only he can understand their background enough to make a correct judgment. For example, there was a study of prostitutes on the streets of San Francisco: ninety-five per cent of them had been raped by a member of their family in their childhood; even our neighbors, who seem to be much like us, have had significantly different experiences in their lives, of which only God is aware, and so only He is capable of rightly judging others' behavior. If your neighbor wrongs you, forgive him and resist anger by turning to sadness for his lack of wisdom that you have been fortunate enough to receive.
Recently I was beyond disappointed in someone I had attempted to help. The Word of the Lord within said to me: "he is of the same earth as you;" which caused me to consider that both he and I were created beings from one blood and one mold, and that I really didn't know his background of experiences that might have programmed him to have certain weaknesses. Further, I could begin to see that it is without foundation, for one created being to be critical of any other created being. Later I heard the Word of the Lord within say, "Your challenge is to consider yourself equal with everyone else." Thinking about this, I understood the only difference between myself and everyone else was that I had been taught wisdom; and everyone else will be taught wisdom too, some later that others; but eventually as Jesus said: "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.'" . Another related teaching we have had from the Lord is that those people still locked in sin are just spiritually younger than us; their spiritual maturity is yet to come, and most will not mature until the next life, (See Is There Hope for All for more on the next life's learning process).
I concluded that my disappointment was really veiled anger at his failure, and I had no right to conclude that just because I could clearly see myself doing right, my life's experiences were totally different than his, and so I had no idea of the emotional pulls and tugs that he had to deal with because of his past experiences. So, I worked at ignoring his weakness and failure, substituting compassion for the price he continues to pay; and then I heard the Word of the Lord within say: "Love mercy." Like the warnings on judging, anger, and forgiveness, so too we are warned to be merciful: "He who has shown no mercy, will receive judgment without mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:13.
From the Word of the Lord within: "Never speak critically of any individual or any organization, no matter how deserving of criticism they are;" and "be blind to others' oppressive faults." Especially be blind to your fellow believers', (those who believe in the true gospel, have the true hope, and who are fervently seeking the kingdom), oppressive faults, which we all have until we have been purified.
When you have sufficient Spirit of God within you, you may be specifically prompted with words from God to pass judgment on someone else in particular; but that would not be you judging, that would be God. Just like Jesus did not judge himself: By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, John 5:30... whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. John 12:49-50... the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He [the son] is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, John 5:19.
Do you have trouble not getting angry at injustices? If so, then expect more injustice to come your way because that is how you are going to get cured. The Lord works on us, one problem at a time, until we are cured from the pain of failure. And even after we are cured, we will get occasional mini refresher courses to remind us of the reward of forgiving or the pain of resentment.
This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.