Monday, February 22, 2010


Every Christian gets offended by people, just as every Christian offends others. When a believer is walking in the Spirit, he is a Galatians 5:22-25 kind of Christian. When a believer is walking in the flesh, he is a Galatians 5:16-21 tool of Satan. The Romans 7 battle is a constant problem. Unfortunately, Spirit-filled Christians leak.

God's Word seems a little unfair, because He requires a believer to make things right regardless of who is guilty. In Matthew 5:23-26, the believer is to be reconciled to an offended person before he participates in worship. Paul warns believers to deal with sin before partaking of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26-30). In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus tells His followers to make every effort to get things right with someone who has offended them. Of course, it is not always possible to get forgiveness (Romans 12:18), and it is often very difficult to give it.

Forgiveness was very difficult for me. When I was about six, my mother took me and went into hiding from my dad. We went from St. Louis to Denver, and then to Cheyenne before he bribed a mailman to get a return address from a letter written to my grandparents. He showed up with a gun, although I am not sure Mother knew he had it, and took me from her. When I was sixteen, my stepmother demanded that he sent me away or she was taking the other seven kids and leaving. He took me to the Navy Recruiter, and put me in the Navy. I was devastated. For the next twelve years, I suffered severe depression from being rejected by him and from believing the lies he told me about my mother. At twenty-six, I decided to go see her. She told me the truth (at least as she saw it), and I called my dad to see what he had to say for himself. Although it about killed him, he admitted what he had done. My bitterness consumed me.

When I was twenty-eight, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but even as a Christian, it took another twenty or so years for me to forgive my dad. One day, in Chapel at the seminary, the speaker was teaching about the seven last recorded sayings of Jesus while He was on the cross. I had heard it and read it many times, but on that particular occasion, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes. Jesus had said, "Father, forgive them for they no not what they do." At that instance, I felt as though He was speaking directly to me. If I can forgive those who, in ignorance, have nailed Me to this cross, you can forgive your dad. After all, if he would have known the devastation his decision would cause you, he would never have done so. I suddenly felt so much love for my dad, and couldn't wait to call him. I also knew that I had failed as a father to my three daughters and as a husband to my wife. I asked them to forgive me, and I hope, for their sakes, they have. Forgiveness of others will set you free to forgive yourself. Thank God He forgave me.

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