Excerpt taken from Chapter 1 of Seventy-Seven Times
Excerpt taken from Chapter 1 of Seventy-Seven Times
We must forgive everyone
I was watching a videotape of a minister who was giving an important message. He spoke of a fellow minister who had a near death experience. That fellow minister had had a heart attack. He knew that he was dying. Then the Lord appeared to him. When he saw the Lord, the minister realized that he had not done a good job. He wanted to correct the problems caused by his sins. He asked Jesus to send him back. Jesus said he would grant that request but first He wanted to show the minister something. Jesus gave that minister a glimpse of hell. In the center of the souls in agony, that minister saw a family member. He told Jesus that this could not be because that family member was always at church and did other good works. The Lord simply said that the family member, “could not forgive someone and therefore I could not forgive them.”
The words in the Lord’s Prayer came to mind for me;
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
(I added the emphasis.) Matthew 6:12
That videotape made me look again at myself. I realized that every time I prayed this scripture I was agreeing with Father that He could judge me according to how I forgave others. I began a very sobering journey with the Lord to find out if I had people in my memory that I needed to forgive. I looked at further scriptures that repeated Jesus’ new way.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.”
(I added the emphasis.) Matthew 18:21-23
(The story that Jesus then told Peter was about the Official who refused to forgive. It was told in Matthew 18:23-35). The story ended with,
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.”
(I added the emphasis.) Matthew 18:35
As I thought about the minister and his near death experience, I began to see that even if someone had done some injustice to me, they could have gone to the Lord and received forgiveness. But if I had not forgiven them for this action, I would go to hell. Soon after this message I began to pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal names to me that I needed to forgive. Some of the names that came to my mind were of people I thought I had truly forgiven. This made me wonder how I could be certain I had forgiven anyone. And it made me very nervous.
During my search I heard a minister speak about how not to receive offense into our lives. As she spoke I saw where offense had first come into my life. And she had said that when offense first entered our lives it was usually through a true injustice. I also saw, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that I had received offense from the people whose names I had heard and had not forgiven. I began to confess that I had been offended by the actions of these people. I felt a great release in my soul and I was truly able to forgive them.
What a revelation; there were two sins, offense and unforgiveness. I had come in agreement with offense and unforgiveness. I kept confessing the unforgiveness but I did not realize that there was the sin of offense I also needed to confess. Although all the offenses were received through an injustice on the part of these people, I had to forgive them. It was God’s law.
Some of this work was difficult, because some of the injustices were cruelty and abuse by a family member. I asked Father to give me an understanding of what eternity is. I would have prayed something like this. “Father, if You allow and if it would please You, would you please give me an explanation of eternity in a way that I could understand it.” I had to learn to wait on Father’s timing for an answer, so I did not expect an immediate answer. I knew that this answer came months after I asked it. I had almost given up hope of it being answered.
It came one day during private prayer time. I had been praying in my prayer chair one minute when the next minute I was standing on the edge of an ocean in the sand. I heard Father’s voice say, “What do you see on your right.” I answered, “I see ocean and sand as far as I can see.” To me it seemed to be an endless beach. Then Father said, “What do you see to your left: I answered, “I see ocean and sand as far as I can see.” Father then said, “Pick up a handful of sand.” I did this and waited. Father said, “The endless ocean and sand to your right and left are like eternity, and the handful of sand is like the number of days you have on earth.” As soon as this was said, I was back in my prayer chair.
This Word was an awaking for me and I worked harder to listen to the Lord and follow His laws in my life. The Lord was helping me with scripture that kept strengthening me in my weaknesses. I prayed all the scriptures that were given to me as a prayer and in a personal way. One that was very important to help me not to receive offense or to confess it quickly was Ephesians 6:12.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
(I added the emphasis.)
I needed to remember that, like me, my brothers and sisters had weaknesses and could be strongly influenced by the evil one. I had been strongly influenced by the evil one to receive offense.
“But I tell you who hear me; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
" Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”
(I added the emphasis.) Luke 6:27, 28, 31, 32
I have come to understand that this is the work of ministry. And we are all called to ministry. I had to be on guard against receiving offenses.
Then we could be the ones who could step out in love if that is what was needed. I had to stop saying me, me. And start saying Lord what about them. They needed you and your love in their life. We were part of the body of Christ and if someone were to receive love, we were part of the body that needed to give His love to them.
I had to believe that God gave me sufficient grace to not receive offense in my life. I am walking out this area of my life, now. Since it was taught to me as a child (easily receiving offense), I will need to be on guard against this all my life. I want to spend eternity with the Lord, but I, also, want to act like His child while I am here.
Seventy-Seven Times ©2004 Paula Russo
Paula Russo | P.O. Box 950987 | Lake Mary, FL 32795 |firstname.lastname@example.org