It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
Have you ever stepped on something and realized you had a splinter in your foot? It’s funny how we have different reactions to that. Some will just pull it right out and some will wait for it to work itself out. I even remember my great grandmother telling me when I was young that if I would put a piece of meat on it, the meat would pull it out of your foot. Remember, I was raised in the country; we did things like that back then.
Let’s look closer at this – if you get a splinter and pull it right out, it hurts for just a moment and then it begins to heal.
If you leave it alone for a few days, it becomes sore and sometimes even swells to a much bigger problem. And if the foot should become infected by leaving the splinter in it – it becomes even more difficult to get out because it is so sore by now that you don’t even want to fool with it. But be very very careful that you don’t allow it to go so long that the infection gets in your bloodstream. This far is way too far to allow it to go.
This is the same exact thing we often do with offense. If someone offends you the best thing to do is to immediately rid yourself of that offense. Sure it will hurt for a moment – but then it will begin to heal. How do you do that? Forgive and ask God to take all the effects and the feelings of that offense out of your heart.
However, what many of us do is to try to let it work itself out. This never works. If you are offended, you simply have to deal with it, the longer you allow it to go, the worse it will become. Dealing with it up front and getting it out of your life is your only option. The Bible is clear on this, in Luke 17, Jesus tells us to forgive. Even if it is seven times seven offenses in a day.
If you allow it to go past that point, infection will set it. What is infection? It is when a poisonous matter produces disease in a healthy body. You can be sure that there is nothing more poison than unforgiveness or bitterness.
You may be thinking ‘but I didn’t do it, they did it to me.’ Perhaps that’s true but if you don’t forgive and release them, it is you that the poisonous matter will affect; it’s your body and your spiritual walk that will become eaten up with disease. And that is reason enough to forgive. Whatever they did to you – is it really going to matter when you stand before God? The only way it will matter is if you refuse to forgive. So, let it go.
Now, I have heard many people make this statement; ‘I will forgive them, but I won’t forget it.’ That is not forgiveness. Think about it, what if Jesus forgave you but didn’t forget it. What if every time He thought of you He said ‘I remember everything she did wrong, I have not forgotten one single thing.’ How could you come before Him and ask Him for anything if you knew that was the case? But it isn’t. Jesus said that our sins are as far from us as the east is from the west and that’s good news. Can you say the same thing about those who have offended you and you have forgiven them? You should make sure that you are able to – because there is another thing Jesus said when it came to forgiveness. Matthew 6:15 says that if you don’t forgive your brother of their offenses, God will not forgive you either.
Years ago I struggled with forgiving someone who had really broken my heart. I fasted and prayed and yet every time I saw them, I could feel a knot in the pit of my stomach from the unforgiveness. One day the Lord reminded me of this scripture, and I realized that if I didn’t forgive them when I stood before God each day in prayer and worship, I stood there as a sinner. This brought everything into prospective and I was able to forgive and let it go.
If there is someone in your life that you are struggling to forgive and it seems it has been there so long that you can’t let it go – then I suggest you do what my great grandmother suggested – put meat on it and the meat will literally pull it out of you. What am I talking about? The meat of the word of God – apply that to your situation and it will literally pull it out of you.
Here’s how – I once worked at a ministry and there was a man there that just rubbed me the wrong way and no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t stand to be around him. Now, as a Christian, I knew this was an unrighteous attitude but it seemed I couldn’t do anything about it. I prayed, I confessed that I had forgiven this man and I loved him in the Lord but nothing changed. One day I cried out to God about it and He showed me this scripture, you are going to love this one and stand on it over and over again. I John 1:9 says ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Wow, all I had to do was confess it as sin and ask God to forgive me and cleanse me of it. That is exactly what I did and each time I saw that man, and I would feel all yucky, I would say “Lord, I confess these feelings as sin and ask you to forgive me and cleanse me of these feelings.”
One day, I walked into the office and saw him and thought wow, those feelings are gone. God had done exactly what the meat of the word said He would do, He forgave me of the confessed sin and completely cleansed me of it. So you see, whatever the problem, whatever the offense, the meat of the word has made a way to literally pull it out of you. To even cleanse you of it – every single time – without fail. Don’t allow another day to go by carrying the load of offense, get rid of it now. Refuse to allow offense, unforgiveness or bitterness to poison your life another day.