I have to confess that I have been negligent in these morning messages. For months I have sensed the Lord wanted to address several aspects of forgiveness, because I believe that for some reason that subject has become a major stumbling block for may of us.
Some of you have been offended by someone and frankly, are unable to let it go. But this morning I am truly sensing that someone has been the offender. They have done something, and I have no idea what the situation is, but I feel the Lord wants to tell you that He can not make someone forgive you, any more than He can make you forgive someone.
As I said, I don’t know the details, and I don’t have to know. What I do know is that you (whoever you are) have offended someone, and are truly sorry for what you have done, but you are begging the Lord to work on that person’s heart and to forgive you and to “let the offense go.” Your prayers won’t work. You need to go to them and humble yourself and apologize, and if they are willing to forgive, then you can receive it, and the two of you are never again to mention it or even think about it!
Here’s the deal, the Lord cannot make someone do anything. But, now hear this, their refusal to forgive, does not give you permission to become bitter and to start speaking badly about them. Ooh, your eyebrows raised on that one, didn’t they? Instead, you must begin to pray for them, not ask the Lord to change them.
Now, if they are also believers, the Lord has already commanded them to forgive. It is not an option for those who choose to pursue to be disciples of His Son, Jesus. Remember when Jesus said, “If you don’t forgive, my Father won’t forgive you” (Matthew 6:15, Mark 11:26).
So, since they do not have any options but to forgive, you need to pray for them to receive the grace they need to forgive. But please understand that the reason you are praying for them is not for your sake — it is for their sake!
When we are living with unforgiveness it is harmful to us physically and spiritually, but more important, it devastates our relationship with our Father. Our spiritual life will be hindered and our faith will become distorted. So, if you have offended them, and you truly regret what you did to offend them, you need to pray for their heart to soften and that their relationship with the Lord would be increased. In fact, they may actually believe their unforgiveness is justified and they their faith is not being hindered. But they are being blinded from the reality of their sin.
What was it that Jesus said about this whole thing? Oh yeah,
If you are offering your gift at the altar and remember there that another believer has something against you, leave your gift at the altar. First go away and make peace with that person. Then come back and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24)
See? The moment you realize the offense, and that your relationship with that person has been severed, you must stop what you are doing (“If you are offering your gift . . . leave your gift at the altar, and go . . .”). Let me try to help you out:
Father, I know I offended __________ (go ahead and name them), and I truly am sorry. I know our relationship is broken and that I have been begging you to heal our relationship . . . by you ‘making’ them forgive me.
But now I see how foolish I was. Can you please move on their heart? Please show me what I can do to show kindness to them and to reestablish our relationship.
But please don’t let this bitterness over their refusal to forgive, consume me. I fully admit I was wrong, I just want peace to rule in our relationship. Give them the Grace they need to find the forgiveness, and give me the wisdom on what I can do to heal the relationship.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.