I hope these meditations on the six responses to God—which we believe to be precursors to revival in our lives—have been helpful to you! Each one of us has a responsibility to seek revival in our own lives, and to know how to help others join the movement of God. So far we have looked at:
Today we come to one that may be the most challenging, but it is also the most liberating:
God could not be more clear about the call to forgive others. Jesus said:
“If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV).
It’s not my purpose here to give an in-depth commentary and explanation of this passage. But clearly, unforgiveness has a very serious and negative spiritual impact on our lives. In order to be right with God, to be spiritually free, and to be prepared for revival, we must forgive.
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring injustice. And it does not always mean reconciliation. For instance, God wants you to forgive someone who abuses you, but not necessarily to stay in close friendship or fellowship with them.
I often personally struggle with this response to God more than any other, especially when it comes to the hurt that other believers have caused me. It is hard to understand the way Christians treat each other sometimes. Maybe you feel this struggle too.
The one thing that most helps me is to turn my focus back to my own sin. The fact is that no matter what anyone else has done to me, I have done worse to the Lord, who saved me! I have disobeyed Him, run from Him, and failed Him so many times. Yet His arms remain open to forgive me every time. When I remember this, it is easier for me to forgive another person.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
As He has forgiven me.
No forgiveness on my part can ever compare to His. If I focus on what has been done to me, it is hard to forgive. If I focus on what has been done for me, it is easier. Easier, not easy!
Even now as I write this, I’m in a season of confusion about some hurtful things from a couple of believers in my life. I’m asking God to help me know what forgiveness looks like for me right now and how to grant it. Maybe you are too.
Last November, we were able to lead a Life Action Summit in central Asia. We ministered to a large number of people who have been persecuted for the gospel. Every woman there had been sexually abused!
On one amazing night, my missionary friend shared his testimony of forgiving the man who murdered his wife. The electricity went out in our building that night, and we lit candles and held up our phones. In the flickering light, we saw tears flowing as people forgave the worst things imaginable that had been done to them.
In the days that followed, we were told that everyone in that room experienced such freedom, they began to share their faith with new joy, and Muslims and Hindus began to ask questions about how this was possible. So far, at least ten have come to Jesus and been baptized!
I know you are hurting. You have been wronged and wounded. But you have a choice to live in bitterness or to live in freedom. You can’t have both.
Freedom is a lot better! And Jesus can give you the power to forgive, and the joy of freedom right now. Let that be an encouraging thought for you in these days, and just maybe an action that leads to revival in you and others.