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I was praying in the Spirit this morning and this message came to my heart. Definitely “in your face” …mine too btw…but words that need to be said and continually reminded of. These things will save your marriage…your church…your country...even yourself. They certainly have me.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

“In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:34-35

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

Jesus, and the apostles, were very clear that days would come when offenses would abound. And…after almost 30 years of ministry, it is clear to me that the number one tactic of the devil is to get nations…. cultures…and God forbid…Christians…to attack and demonize one another in their own “abounding offenses”. Kingdoms divided against themselves cannot stand. History has made clear the primary cause of these divisions is through angst resulting from unforgiveness and not extending grace and mercy. Our nation is reeling in this spirit right now. Unfortunately…and the main point of this article…is too many Christians swallow this very poison faster than my aquarium fish frenzy when we feed them.

Opportunities to be offended and hurt are going to come…we have been warned. But THE GOOD NEWS is we have also been instructed on what to do when they come at us!

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:15

It is discouraging to hear people claim they have faith in a God whose primary mission toward us was to pay a price for forgiveness…then lift their hands and worship this God of love and grace… yet the whole while clinging to the blackness in their heart toward their brother in anger and an unrelenting grip on their offense. These things my friends are worse than any cancer. As cancer eats up your body from within, unforgiveness eats up your soul from within. As James said… “this brothers and sisters should not be!”

Here…I’ll quote him for you:

“Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be! Can both fresh water and bitter water flow from the same spring?” James 3:10-11

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Matthew 12:36

Bitterness acts like a root and the deeper it is allowed to grow, the more corrupt the heart becomes. The “defiling of others” spreads like gangrene towards even those we love as our hearts abundantly spill forth poison toward our brother. The mouth that has been given the wonderful duty of spreading grace and life and light here on the earth has no business…was not designed to…spill out “bitter water”. God forbid if our homes are “drowning” in these things!

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” When someone finds themselves almost on a quest to defile and deface continually another brother…that is not a sign of Christian ethic and humility…it is the poison and rot of bitterness clinging to your soul while you seek out those who will agree with you. Please awaken to the knowledge that every word that is spoken out of these things we will give an account for. Every person we insisted listen to our anger and drink of those “bitter waters” will be as well if they did not shut it down.

Those offended claim ad nauseam that the person that hurt them is not acting like a Christian. In actuality, the person in offense and bitterness shares even to a greater degree that description. How could one claim to act Christ like while they condemn their brother and sister regularly? It is the bitter and unforgiving one guilty of gross violation of the plainly communicated expectation of God!

In the verses quoted at the beginning of this article…the Lord was black and white when He said someone has no business praying in faith if they are in unforgiveness. Jesus was also quite clear…if you don’t forgive…you will be turned over to the “tormentors” The sad thing is that the whole while those that are “tormented” through their bitterness continually claim “Well if that person would just come to me”. NO and again NO!

The “cure for unforgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. They will never say enough…appeal enough…act enough…any and all previous motions to try to help the one in unforgiveness will be blown off and disregarded as everything from insincere (“They didn’t really mean it.” to not being enough “Well they still haven’t called me enough”)

Someone coming to you is not the “prescription” God gives when dealing with bitterness, unforgiveness, and “hurt”. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, people are to confront the other if there are differences. And yes, unequivocally people should come and ask your forgiveness when they have wronged you. But that is NOT the medicine the soul is commanded to “take” when in bitterness. I mean, what if they never come to you? Is that prison you're in so great you'll stay there the rest of your life? (Besides…what happens if the person you have unforgiveness towards is dead? What are you going to do now?)

The Word says NOTHING as far as the other person coming to you for healing your unforgiveness. That my friends is our personal responsibility. To say otherwise is only to pass the blame on someone else. It is the same as saying it is that persons fault I am so hurt. “I am hurt because of them…I am bitter because of them…I am tormented because of them…”

These my friends are lies we believe which attempt to relieve us of our responsibility to extend 70 times 7 the Christian grace of forgiveness.

Again in case you missed it since it is worth repeating:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

I’ll be direct. As a Pastor, having been around quite the while now…those who have been around me who give in to these things have learned nothing from me!

This is the one subject I preach on and allude to more than anything else because it is such a tried and true weapon of the enemy. These principles I am discussing, by God’s grace, are the things that have allowed me to have stayed in ministry as long as I have. It seems maybe only a minister can relate to the horrendous things that are said about them…relentlessly at times…at the very same time they give their lives and families as well to the service of others! “No good deed goes unpunished” I’m sure was coined by a minister!

I would rather be with someone who knows only one verse…and yet is full of that wonderful grace that animates all of heaven…than someone with a library full of scriptural knowledge that uses such to impale their fellow men…

As much as anyone I could be giving in to unforgiveness and anger. Almost daily I am given “opportunities”! But I am keenly aware of the deadly poison this is and have spent great lengths…energy…even tears…to fight it off and not let my heart be corrupted. I have done it…and will continue to. This is a fight you can win! I have won this battle more than once…and so can you!

If you’re in unforgiveness and offense…no one…NO ONE…else is responsible for your heart but you. There is no excuse…no reason…no “nothing” that licenses you to continue in these things. Healing starts with asking God to forgive YOU of the pride it takes to hold a grudge. No one needs to come to you…no one needs to call you...

If we are bound by these things, our problem is with God’s Word and what He clearly has told us to do…not any other person!!!

The Lord said to me one day…”The day you are offended is the day you are thinking too highly of yourself.” I knew instantly what He meant. When I actually think I have a right to hold on to unforgiveness and bitterness, I am thinking I am so special…so big…that I should never have someone be like that toward me. It's kinda like"How dare someone treat me like that? They obviously have no idea who I am!" The Lord taught me that those who have the heart “I am an unworthy slave and have only done what is expected of me” Luke 17:10…has no place or ground for these things to grow.

The heart of humility has not the fertilizer to allow the weed of bitterness to grow.

The human heart can be so fragile. And the damage done to it by offense seems to know no bounds. Thank God for His Word...His grace...and His Body that are more than capable of extending the very healing we all have had or will need at some point in our lives.

Where to start? We have all heard it said "Let go and let God"...well here is a good place to start. LET GO!

Till next time...

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