Covenant Keeping – 101
I firmly believe this is the most important article I have ever written. My life has been changed by writing it and I know your life can also be changed if you will listen and read carefully. I have prayed and asked the Lord what He wants for CKs in 2019 and believe He has stated we need to go back to basics. Some of you have not been with us long enough to have been taught the basics. Some of you have been around so long that you have forgotten or are now overlooking the basics, so I believe this is how we will begin the New Year.
Christianity 101 – Forgiveness Is Not An Option. If you want to be forgiven you must forgive others. 1 Peter 3:8-9 says “… be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” How does this commandment play out in real life when we do not return evil for evil? When we are a follower of Jesus, the standards for our actions are extraordinarily high. In fact, it is not possible to do what He has commanded without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is He in us that gives us the power to unconditionally surrender to His ways. Forgiveness is impossible for us humans but “all things are possible” with Jesus in us.
On YouTube there is a segment of a marriage seminar that Mark Gungor conducted. In this segment he states, “Forgiveness is an act, not an emotion.” Every day we get to make decisions to forgive, and these decisions are not based upon our emotions but upon our obedience to our Jesus. It is so easy to be offended by others and forget how offensive we can be. And yet, Jesus grants us grace and forgives us and has commanded us to do the same for other people in our lives. Mark goes on to say, “Forgiveness has more to do with your tongue instead of your head or your heart. It is not an eraser of your memory. You may remember the offense for the rest of your life.” The Word has not commanded us to “forget,” only to “forgive.”
Then Mark said something that rocked my personal forgiveness boat. He stated, “When we forgive in the Biblical manner we are stating we will never use the offense against that person and we will never speak of this offense in the future to them or to anyone else.” Whoa! Never speak of it again? That statement allowed me to see my heart in the real light of His expectations. I knew I still had a long way to go before “real Godly forgiveness” was firmly planted in my heart. There are a few things that I have congratulated myself for accomplishing in the forgiveness area that I still speak to others about. It was at this point that I realized that forgiveness has more to do with my tongue instead of my head and my tongue will show the real condition of my heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.” Matthew 12:34 (ESV) Our hearts will tell on us because we are incapable of keeping our mouths shut when our hearts are filled with sinful un-forgiveness.
I want to say to you that just as love is a decision, un-forgiveness/bitterness is also a decision. The good news is that you get to choose. God has given you a choice. Choose wisely because it is your peace that is at stake. It is not the other person’s wellbeing at stake; it is yours. Do you want peace in your life or do you want bitterness? R T Kendall in his book Total Forgiveness states, “The person who gains the most from forgiveness is the person who does the forgiving.” I have heard it stated another way: “Un-forgiveness is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Remember, God looks on our hearts. Based upon Gungor’s teaching mentioned above – that if you have truly forgiven you will never speak of the offense again – we should be able to easily determine the condition of our hearts and thus determine whether or not we have really forgiven. Just listen to what is coming out of your mouth. We often talk about other people being deceived; and I have stated many times that deceived people do not know they are deceived. What a wake-up call for me personally! I really thought I had dealt with an offense that had happened in our family more than 20 years ago but yet I still talk about the incident. No more! The devil is a deceiver and a liar and he will twist things just a bit to throw us off base.
Because Christ has forgiven the inexcusable in me and I am a Christ follower, I must forgive the inexcusable in others if I am to be forgiven for my sins. The problem has been that I thought the condition of my heart was in good shape in the forgiveness realm. Oh, such deception. Often, as CKs we talk about the deception of our spouses. I’m confessing to you that my heart was full of deception too. I was so deceived that I thought I was living and walking in peace. But that was not true if based upon the words coming out of my mouth. I was continuing to speak of what had offended me.
Dear CKs, this is very important teaching that God has just now shown me. I have repented of many things that I was harboring in my heart and that was coming out of my mouth; things that needed be kicked to the curb and destroyed by the power of the Holy Spirit. There are some prayers I have been praying for decades but because I have hidden un-forgiveness in my heart, God had to deal with my sin first. I am so thankful that He loves each one of us enough to reveal our deception.
So, what’s the condition of your heart? Are you deceived in areas where you think you have forgiven but you are still talking about the offense? What’s coming out of your mouth? I encourage you to deal with the reality of any un-forgiveness in your life. Just listen to what is coming out of your mouth, because it will speak about what is in your heart.
If you want to listen to the segment of the marriage seminar by Mark Gungor, HERE is the link.