It’s not enough to say you’ve forgiven someone; you have to actually and actively show forgiveness.
God has been speaking to my heart for some time now regarding forgiveness. Each and every time that I heard the word, my mind immediately went to thoughts of my eldest sister. She and I had not spoken in almost two years… until Saturday night. I cannot say that I heard God telling me to call her, but His Holy Spirit was definitely driving my end of that conversation. Our conversation was 30-minutes long and filled with many painful tears, but I know it was a needed atmospheric shift. Don’t misunderstand me- nothing about our relationship was mended or restored, but in my obedience, God revealed many things and I now know what needs to be done next. I solicit your prayers during this journey in obedience and forgiveness. I also solicit your prayers for my sister- for her salvation, the condition of her heart, and relief from the physical pain associated with Sickle Cell Disease.
Open your bibles to Matthew 18:15-20 (The English Standard Version is below):
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Having grown up in a black, Baptist church, I was all too familiar with this passage of scripture… or so I thought. When I read this passage yesterday, my conversation with my sister from Saturday caused me to see God’s Word with fresh eyes. So, verse by verse, I want to help you see God’s heart just a little bit better. Bear with me, I want to respectful of your time/attention span, but I also want you to get [spiritually] fed.
15. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
This verse is really as clear as it reads. Jesus is saying that if someone (because everyone is our brother/sister) hurts or offends us, that we should immediately tell him/her PRIVATELY and work out the matter alone. Did you peep my emphasis on the word PRIVATELY? That means skip Facebook, social media, emails/texts, and word of mouth- tell that person face-to-face that they have wronged you. From there, Jesus adds that if the person hears you out and apologizes, that the matter is squashed. Simply put- y’all good.
16. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Face it, sometimes people don’t apologize to us when we politely call them out on their offenses. Jesus says here that if that happens, then you bring in other people, soliciting their wisdom and guidance. Call them mediators or just people to pray and keep watch, but they are brought in only AFTER trying to resolve the matter with the offender alone.
17. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Ok, yet and still, some people refuse to admit the wrong that they’ve done in the lives of others. If after calling in a mediator or two, the person still won’t own up to their faults, go to the church. Again, this is still private. Jesus is not suggesting a huge billboard, blasting your offender, but instead going to the church and seeking their sound counsel. Personally, I go to leaders in my church often and quickly when problems arise. This is what the church is for; the church is just a hospital for the sick… I’m sick so I go there for healing that only God can provide. My healing resides in the church… not the physical building, but the body of believers who comprise the church. If going through the church doesn’t work, Jesus says to release yourself from that person. It’s ok; not every broken relationship will be mended.
18. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
This one… this verse right here is where it gets good. Whatever- good or bad- that we set in motion here on earth, carries over to heaven. Jesus is saying in this verse that our earthly actions carry heavenly implications and consequences that follow us long beyond our time here on earth. Be careful what you do to others.
19. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
Here Jesus adds that when two people gather together to ask something of God, it will be given to them (within the realm of His will) because…
20. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Christ is in the midst of it all. When we gather together, in agreement with Him and His word, He is there with us.
I’m praying my way through all that is in front of me. For now, I pray that whatever issues of forgiveness that you are struggling with are released. And from there, show signs of forgiveness by releasing the pain and continuing to show the love of Christ through it all. Forgive and repent; be at peace.