Forgiveness is difficult. And confusing.
Before I share with you my main message, let me clarify two things that confuse a lot of people.
Forgiveness And Friendship Require 2 Decisions
First clarification: Forgiveness is different from Friendship.
When you forgive someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be friends with him again.
For example, when a business partner steals from you, you should forgive him. But that doesn’t mean you’ll take him back as your business partner again. That’s a separate decision you’ll have to make.
When your drunkard husband beats you up regularly, you should forgive him. But that doesn’t mean you should take him back as a husband again.
One friend comes to mind: “Liza”. When I got to know her, her husband beat her up for the past 21 years. Her husband’s favorite tool of torture was his hammer. When he was angry, he’d pick up his hammer, push her hand to the wall, and hammer her fingers to bloody pulp.
I asked her, “Why did you stay with this monster for 21 years?” She said, “Because he asked me for his forgiveness.” I told her, “Don’t confuse forgiveness with stupidity. Forgive him, yes, but run away as far as possible from that monster.”
She said, “But I love him…”
I told her, “No, you don’t love him. You need him. You’re attached to him. But you don’t love him. If you really loved him, you would have walked out of that horrible marriage a long time ago. By staying there, you allowed him to continue in his sin of violence.”
Let me say it again. Forgiveness and friendship are two different things that require two different decisions.
Don’t confuse the two.
Second clarification. Please don’t be shocked with what I’m going to say next…
Don’t Rush To Forgive If The Wound Is Grave
When the hurt is very deep, don’t forgive right away.
When someone hurts you deeply, God doesn’t require that you forgive right away. When your husband commits adultery, or when an uncle molests you, or when a friend betrays you…, God doesn’t require that you drive out your feelings of anger “right now”.
Why? Because we’re not robots with push buttons on our chest.
In fact, God knows that we need to get angry for awhile as part of our healing.
By getting angry, we restore our dignity. By getting angry, we love ourselves. By getting angry, we say, “What you did to me was terribly wrong. You violated me.”
I repeat: The process of getting angry (for awhile) is part of your healing.
Anger is like a medicine with an expiration date. Before that expiration date, anger is medicine. After that expiration date, anger becomes poison.
At the right time, God will ask you to surrender your anger.
Which now brings me to our main message for today.
Goal: To Have A Forgiving Attitude
Today, my goal isn’t just to encourage you to forgive those who have wronged you in the past.
Today, my goal is much more ambitious than that.
My goal is to encourage you to develop a forgiving attitude.
Forgiveness is an isolated act. But a forgiving attitude is who you are normally, usually, regularly…
My belief? If you want to be happy in your life, you need to have a forgiving attitude.
Because you live amidst imperfect people.
You were born into an imperfect family, with imperfect parents, with imperfect siblings.
Announcement: You’re imperfect too! (Unless you happen to be a perfect alien from a perfect planet.)
Everyday, you’ll get hurt. Someone will step on your toe. Someone will stab your back. Someone will kick your behind. Someone will prick your pride. Someone will slander your name.
That’s why Jesus said, Forgive seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22) That number is a Biblical symbol for “forever”.
Believe me, if you don’t have a forgiving attitude, you can’t enjoy any imperfect relationship.
Do You Have An Unforgiving Attitude?
Here’s what I know. A person who has an unforgiving attitude is an unhappy person.
For example, when a waiter brings the wrong order, does it ruin your entire day?
When a cashier makes a mistake, because she’s new, or she’s nervous, or she’s having her own family problems—Do you roll up your eyeballs and sigh a sigh of exasperation?
When a sister borrows your blouse without your permission and doesn’t return it washed and folded, do you fume for the rest of the day?
When a friend forgets to say “thank you” for her birthday gift, do you nurse a grudge until your next birthday?
Here’s the crazy thing about unforgiveness. You can be moping and grumbling at home, while the person you’re angry with could be sunbathing in Boracay.
Face it. Unforgiveness isn’t very wise.
Be Selfish: Have A Forgiving Attitude!
A wise man said, Forgiveness is first of all a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness is almost a selfish act—because of the incredible blessing the forgiver gets!
Imagine this scenario.
You’re so angry at someone, you decide to buy Triple-X poison from the drugstore. Upon reaching home, you drink the entire bottle yourself! And then you hope that the person who offended you dies because of the poison.
Pretty insane, right?
But that’s the insanity of the unforgiving attitude.
I know of a woman who caught her husband having many affairs. It totally devastated her. It was such a deep wound, her bitterness slowly killed her body. She had cancer and after 2 years passed away. What happened to her husband? Still with his many girlfriends.
My friend is wiser.
She had a business partner who stole from her P8 Million. She thought it was the end of the world. She’d go to me at our weekly Feast, asking me to pray for her.
And in her heart, she made a decision to forgive her business partner. She refused to remain stuck. She didn’t spend time thinking how to avenge herself. She moved on.
Today, my friend has recovered from that loss—and so much more. Her God is prospering her business.
The business partner who stole from her? She heard that she was in jail—because of another crime.
My friend did the unthinkable: She visited her in jail.
Many years ago, I heard through the grapevine that I was being accused of using people’s donations to buy myself a car.
That hurt. (If I used the donations to buy myself a car, I would have bought a Rolls Royce.)
I later learned that a friend had spread that gossip.
But on that same day, I forgave that friend in my heart.
Why? Because I was being “selfish”.
Here was my logic: It’s bad enough that he hurt me once. Why let him hurt me again (and again and again…) by rewinding the tapes of his sin in my mind?
Friend, if someone has hurt you—don’t let that hurt ruin your life. Don’t let a betrayal, or divorce, or adultery, or unfaithfulness destroy your life and your destiny.
Forgive and move on with your life!
Forgiveness means you won’t invest emotional energy to your hurt anymore.
Some people don’t do that.
They like rewinding the tapes. They like reviewing the hurt in their imagination. They like opening an old wound and puncturing it again. And again. And again.
What’s the Solution?
To heal our unforgiving attitude, we must ask, “What is the root of unforgiveness?”
From experience, our inability to forgive others comes from our inability to forgive ourselves. Yes, it can be that simple.
If you don’t receive God’s mercy, you can’t give mercy to others. The Bible says, Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13).
I remember Felipe.
Felipe told me he has a hard time forgiving others.
But as we continued talking, I found out something very glaring about him that he may not have noticed. When he himself does something wrong, he becomes very miserable. He doesn’t allow himself to be happy.
In other words, he punishes himself.
Even if Felipe asks for God’s forgiveness, (and verbally, he’ll tell you he believes that God forgives him), he’ll subconsciously find a way to pay for his sins. By not being happy. By suffering.
He wants to pay for his sins. He demands it upon himself.
Result? When others offend him (and he gets easily offended), he uses the same standards. He wants them to pay up as well.
There are still isolated Catholics who practice flogging. (Other religions practice this too.) These penitents whip themselves as a way of punishing themselves for their sins.
I’ve met Christians who no longer carry a physical whip, but they carry an invisible whip. When they make a mistake, they whip themselves “bloody” in their emotions. They condemn themselves. They walk through life depressed. They accept all suffering as just rewards for their sins—even suffering that’s totally unrelated to their mistakes.
They say they believe God loves them. They even sing about God’s Love. They’ll even tell you that they believe God has forgiven them. But internally, they insist on paying for their sins.
Friend, if there’s one thing I want you to learn today, it is this: Stop trying to pay for your sins!
Rest in His mercy. Let God pay for your sins.
God Desires Mercy, Not Sacrifice
From experience, it’s these people that have an unforgiving attitude.
Because one cannot give what one has not really received.
God says, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. (Matthew 9:13)
But there are people who like sacrifice. They want to keep sacrificing to God for their sins. And worse, they want others to sacrifice for their sins.
But God wants mercy.
I believe the root of all unforgiveness is fear.
Fear that if you don’t let “them” pay for their mistakes, you’ll never get back what you lost.
Not understanding that these people can’t pay anyway.
Here’s the big problem: Only God can pay you.
I was molested as a child. But I’ve long realized that my molesters can’t pay me back. They can’t return to my innocence. They can’t return to me the 20 years of agony.
But God can.
Let God Pay You
God saw you when you were offended. Hurt. Abandoned.
If someone stole from you, or hurt you, or offended you, read this verse: God says, Your shame and disgrace are ended. You will live in your own land. And your wealth will be doubled; Your joy will last forever. (Isaiah 61:7)
What is God saying? He’s telling you, “Let me handle your case. Put the situation in my hands. I’ll see to it that you’ll receive double than what you’ve lost. I’ll see to it that you’ll gain back what was stolen from you.”
As long as you let go and forgive, God will be your vindicator.
He’ll make your wrongs right.
He’ll return what the enemy has stolen.
He’ll even the score.
Remember Job? Job’s friends were trying to comfort him, but they said some hurtful things to him too.
Look at what the Bible says: Then, after Job had prayed for his three friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had had before. (Job 42:10)
If you forgive and pray for your enemies, get ready to be very blessed!
This was the story of my friend Mark.
Mark lent P1 Million to his business partner. It was a huge amount for my friend. But this partner ran away. This devastated Mark. It wasn’t only the money but the betrayal.
But instead of being bitter, staying at home, thinking of ways to get back at him, my friend Mark decided to expand his small business. Instead of spending his time cursing his enemy, he spent his time blessing his business.
After one year, Mark is now earning P1 Million every month. The exact money he lost, he earns now in a snap.
And what happened to the man who stole his money? Through the grapevine, Mark found out that the guy was still financially hard up.
You don’t have to see to it that justice is done. Because the universe is governed by the Law of Reciprocity. What you sow, you reap.
Unforgiveness is taking matters in your hands.
Forgiveness is taking matters into God’s hands.
The Path Of Blessings
Let me define forgiveness for you: Being kind beyond what is reasonable.
Yes, forgiveness is insane.
On October 2, 2006, thirty-two-year old Charles Roberts entered an Amish school with an automatic rifle.
He tied up the legs of schoolgirls and prepared to shoot them, execution style.
The oldest hostage, a thirteen-year-old, asked Roberts to “shoot me and release the others.” But he didn’t listen to her. He fired at all of them with 400 rounds of ammunition.
He killed five girls.
When the police stormed into the school building, Charles Roberts shot and killed himself.
Why did he shoot the girls? He told them before shooting, “I’m angry at God for taking my little daughter.”
Immediately after the massacre, more than fifty news crews came into that small town. And what they witnessed was unbelievable.
After the funeral of their daughters, the families of these girls visited the funeral of the family of their murderer.
Why did they go there? They went there to offer words of forgiveness and consolation to his widow and her three children.
As if that wasn’t shocking enough, these families raised money for their murderer’s orphaned family.
Why did the Amish do this unexplainable thing?
Because the Amish are Christians. They follow the Bible when it says, “Love does not keep a record of wrongs.”
Yes, even if that wrong was killing their little daughter.
This is the mark of God in your life. When you treat well the people who don’t deserve to be treated well.
I have my little story of forgiveness.
In the past 30+ years of ministry, I’ve had my critics. Some criticized with love. Some criticized with venom.
Someone told me, “Bo, better read this blog. This guy calls you the devil’s servant.” I read his articles. It was true, the writer didn’t like me very much. He said I brought a lot of people to hell.
This is what I did: Instead of getting angry, I prayed blessings for him and his family.
When I did that, I cannot describe to you how free and happy I felt. And I also felt that God’s river of blessings began to flow more into my life.
It’s now your turn.
Have a forgiving attitude.
And bless all those who have offended you.
And believe that you’ll receive double what you have lost.
May your dreams come true,
PS. Don’t Miss This! Our biggest, boldest, and most inspirational event of the year, Kerygma Conference 2011, will be on November 18 to 20 in Manila. That’s three days of God’s power flowing to your life. (In Davao, it’ll be on November 26, and in Cebu, it’ll be on December 3.). Get your tickets now. Log on at www.KerygmaConference.com. Or call Tel. (02) 7259999 for details.
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