BY CLIFTON JONES
GOD’S MEDICINE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY FORGIVE, is a divinely appointed treatise written by Bishop Clifton Jones to the body of Christ. Its message is a timely one and strikes at the heart of what
ails the church today.
The message of forgiveness contained in these pages provides practical Biblical principles for reconciliation and unity in relationships. Its tenets can be practiced and successfully implemented
by the laity, as well as by clergymen and the various organizations they represent. Unity or oneness among the members of the body of Christ is absolutely essential for the times we live in. The church of
the living God must band together and now is the time.
I do not at all suggest that the practicing of the principles of forgiveness stated in this book will be an easy task. For some they will be accomplished through much prayer and agonizing soul searching.
Nevertheless, the results will be life changing and hold an eternal weight of reward.
Many thanks to God for alerting us to the need to forgive one another and many thanks to Bishop Jones for his willing obedience in bringing us this message.
-Dr. Jane Sims
The message presented in this book, GOD’S MEDICINE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, is in every respect exactly what it says. This is a message delivered with all of God’s children in mind. This communication deals with human forgiveness through divine love. The word medicine implies sickness, therefore, I feel free in saying there is much illness in our midst due to failure in the practice of the Godkind of forgiveness. Nothing afflicts, bruises, and kills the life of the church of the living God like an unforgiving spirit. Nothing disqualifies us as spiritual vessels like holding oughts, grudges, and hurt feelings. There is no amount of singing, preaching, teaching, praying, dancing, or giving that can take the place of forgiving. This is the only medicine that can heal the whole family when the word of God commanded
us in Col. 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye”. Anytime two or more people are brought together, there are going to be many complaints in the midst. Blaming, finger pointing, criticizing, rumor spreading, jealous expressions, selfish ambitions, and the like, have caused much pain in the body of Christ. For this cause was GOD’S MEDICINE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY written that those who are wounded might be ministered to and live. Unlike natural medicine, which requires limited use by age, by time and by dosage, God’s medicine, that is presented in this book, Is open for all ages, at anytime, and you can obtain all you need. I trust that through reading and meditating upon this message you will sense the divine importance of practicing forgiveness. I hope also that you will be brought to grips that no offense or sin justifies one holding a grudge or not freely forgiving. I do not consider this message as just another bit of news, but as one of the most urgent letters that could be penned. With the rapid rise of broken homes, marriages, divisions, and broken relationships of all descriptions, we must turn to God’s way to health and happiness, that is, we must forgive one another. It is impossible to have peace of mind and freedom of spirit and emotional control, or even getting to heaven without forgiving from the heart. May the very God of glory grant us understanding in this important matter so that we might forgive and live.
Yours for Christ’s sake,
Forgiveness And It’s Importance
In reading through the gospels we notice that Jesus never taught a lesson on the three points of how to get healed, or how to minister deliverance, yet He had much to say about how to get along with people.
Such language as, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt. 5:39-41), shows us that Jesus is very concerned about our
relationships with each other as well as our relationship with Him. He also pointed out that offenses would come. (Luke 17:1) There is no way to avoid all offenses in this world, our only defense is to maintain a Christ-like attitude toward everyone we meet.
None of us has been offended like Jesus, therefore, we are to take His example and govern our lives thereby. Jesus expressed His desire for us to have a right relationship with our fellow brethren
above our large gift: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to
thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matt. 5:2324) Those who claim to be super spiritual will say as long as things are right upstairs it makes no difference what anyone else says or thinks. This
is seriously wrong. Jesus wants us to grow day-by-day, stronger and stronger together, and the medicine that will heal our hurts is forgiveness.
It is an insult to the holiness of our God to ill treat a brother or sister and then try to justify it by increasing our offering, singing louder, preaching longer or more, or running the aisle. Any of these or any like them are unacceptable as a substitute for the wrong done to one another. When we stand before God we want a clear conscience toward God and man. “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.” (Acts 24:16) We cannot offend God or man, without it troubling our conscience.
Jesus, in teaching and giving us a pattern to build our praying by, says in Matt. 6:12 that forgiveness is the rule whereby one receives God’s forgiveness. In other words, if one is in debt to you through an offense, the measure of your forgiveness, will determine whether or not you will receive God’s forgiveness. Jesus says in no uncertain terms, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither
will your heavenly father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:15) When an offended individual holds on to their hurt, to the degree that they won’t forgive, they have God’s promise that their trapezes will not be
Forgiveness may not come easy and natural, yet it will cost us more not to forgive, than it will to forgive. What then is forgiveness? The Greek word; “aphteni”, af-ee-ay-mee; (to send forth, forsake, lay aside, leave, let alone, let be, let go, let have), omit, put or send away; remit, yield up. (Greek Dictionary Of The New Testament, page 17). Forgive means to give up resentment against, or the desire to punish; to stop being angry with; to pardon. (Webster) When we fail to forgive, we are trying to play God, which is too large a role for any of us to play. When we decide that there are some offenses that are too great to let someone off the hook, without making them pay, we are trying to play God. The word of God does not list any offense that is too great to be forgiven. Peter, in Matt. 18:21, asked about the limits of forgiveness. Jesus’ answer revealed that there are no limits when it comes to forgiving.
Let us take a look at the instructions given by Jesus, on how to deal with an offended brother. Step one is to go to him. Yes, go tell him, not them.. The atmosphere around the house of God would be so much
better, if we would follow these simple rules. Whenever we are offended it is our God-given responsibility to go to that brother or sister alone, and point out to him or her the offense. This will give the offender a chance to recover from their blunder. Also, you will have saved them, providing they heed your confrontation. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him: Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5: 19-20).
Now if after confronting the brother alone, and he refuses to hear you, you then take one or two more with you. If he refuses to hear the group, it is to then be told to the church. And if he rejects the advice of the church, it can be publicly known that he or she is a hypocrite. By now you are probably saying along with me, I’ve never seen it done this way. Although we may not have seen it done this way, according to Jesus, this is the way to do it.
Let’s take a look at the way it is most often done. When one is offended, instead of confronting the one who committed the offense, we tell our friends and let them tell their friends. By the time every one
gets finished telling everyone except the one who committed the offense, it is all over the congregation. Out of all the things that hampers and stifles a congregation, nothing, I mean absolutely nothing,
puts bad rays in the air like the improper handling of offenses. This causes the death of revivals, heated worship services, or any meaningful services in the church.
This method of telling them, rather than him, has brought wars to many assemblies, bringing about divisions, confusion, gossip, bitterness, resentment, hostility, etc. When a wounded brother shares
his hurts with another, that one will usually add their own feelings to what was told to them and make a big monstrosity out of a matter that a little love and compassion could have healed. Worship can no more live in this type of atmosphere than a tomato plant can in the winter season.
It is quite clear, that the average Christian does not seem to realize the seriousness of not forgiving one another, in spite of all that Jesus had to say on the subject. To fail in our forgiveness is to fail in our relationship with God and man. In our relationship with each other, there is disunity and spirit destroying vibes. “And when you stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26).
It is quite clear that our lack of forgiveness also affects our relationship with the Lord. It causes Him to close His ears to our cry and hold us responsible for our own trespasses. When we fail to forgive we are assured by Jesus that we will not be forgiven. This none of us can afford. The outcome of our praying is contingent upon our forgiveness. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Ps. 66:18) Failing to forgive, will always put your prayers on hold, and they will remain there until you and I decide to forgive those who trespass against us. I do not intend to belabor the point but forgiveness is a matter of life and death. If we forgive, both we and those who trespass against us, will live. After all as much as we have been forgiven, we should be more than ready to forgive those who trespass against us.
A Bible Example Of True Forgiveness
In the book of Gen. 50:15-21, one of the greatest examples of human forgiveness is recorded. You are no doubt acquainted with the life of Joseph, a lad that was deprived of his home, relatives, friends, family, schooling, and a place to worship the true God. If anyone in this whole world was given a cause to be embittered by wrong done against him, it would be Joseph. His brothers sold him because he had an ongoing relationship with his Lord. Jealousy is a deadly enemy to good relationships.
Anytime we allow jealousy to invade our homes, churches, or other organizations, we will be faced with a need to forgive. Yes, jealousy will cause brothers to sell one another, especially if one has a bright
relationship with the Lord. After the death of Jacob, the brothers felt sure that they were going to have to pay. In other words they attempted to read into Joseph what they felt in themselves. They knew that if
they had the opportunity to make him pay they would surely make him pay. They seemed to have thought that their father’s presence was the reason that Joseph was withholding his wrath.
But no it wasn’t his earthly father that restrained him. He was kept from within, by his heavenly father. Joseph’s maturity had reached a level that raised him above bitterness. In what appeared to be a plot
executed by his brothers, Joseph saw a plan under the control of God. If Joseph would have dwelled on his hurts, he would not have waited until the death of his father to make them pay. His first sight of them would have drawn his wrath. We should learn from this godly man how not to dwell on hurts lest we become bitter.
Lack of forgiveness will disease our relationship with God and make us enemies of each other, but forgiveness will heal or prevent such a sickness. Joesph’s reply to his brothers let them know that he
was not interested in playing God. “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?” (Gen. 50:19) It takes a real mature child of God, not to take vengeance into his or her own hands when an offense is committed against them. There is a natural tendency for one to become angry, and seek to retaliate when another causes you hurt. But when you are mature in your relationship with the Lord, you are able to remember that He has pledged His support to you. And inasmuch as He has pledged His support, you can feel confident that if He allows anyone to cause you hurt or harm and get away with it, that’s His business.
We should always remember that it is the Lord’s right and authority to make one pay, and to take this right out of God’s hand is to invite Him not to pardon our sins. This is one luxury none of us can
afford. To have God not to forgive our sins leaves us as the enemies of God. It would serve the body of Christ well if we would become mature enough to see God’s hand in what is allowed to happen to us by someone else. Joseph’s maturity protected him from being bitter about what seemed like a human plan to destroy him. Joseph saw this as a divine intervention. You know, it is easy to point the finger and shift the blame to someone else. Yet none of these will solve the problem. This kind of action only causes the disease to spread even further and faster. To put a stop to it we must be willing to forgive one another.
How Do You Know When You Have Forgiven? Must You Forget?
When you have forgiven an individual, your spirit will sense the release in your spirit. It is a good feeling to do what you know is right. Your mind will be freed from the past hang-ups. You can now face your former opposition without a sense of guilt. Let me sound a word of warning about false guilt. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and will not freely let you or me go without trying to make us feel a sense of guilt, but when you know that in your heart you have completely released all charges previously held against a person, you then act according to the decision you have made by dealing with the person as though nothing has ever happened.
Forgiveness is more than the words, “I forgive you”. It also carries action. Whenever you find yourself seeking to withdraw from an individual, it is a sign you either haven’t forgiven the person or you are being controlled by false guilt. Let us take another look at the definition of forgiveness, (hold no more resentment, cease to blame, give up all claims, to release all charges).
Now the question that is so commonly asked: Do you have to forget when you forgive? Let me ask this question. Do you think that Jesus has forgotten things which we have done? The answer is no. He still knows, and to prove this point He tells us if we forgive not men their trespasses, neither will He forgive ours, and it seems to me in order for him to hold our sins against us, he would have to know what we have done.
Although He has not forgotten, yet He treats us as though the offense never occurred. Nothing less does he expect of us. No we do not have to forget what one has done to us, but forgiveness will empower us
to treat them as though the offense never occurred. There are many things that we do in the name of the Lord, and in the name of forgiveness that isn’t really forgiveness. Such notions as I will forgive you, but I’ll be watching you; I forgive you, but I’ll feed you with a long-handled spoon; I forgive you, but; there are no “buts” in forgiveness. Either you forgive or you refuse to forgive. These attitudes are telling one to stay out of my face; keep your distance. In short, we have no more fellowship. You go your way and I go mine. This is the kind of disease that has separated the chieftest of friends, closest of relatives, best of congregations, pastors from pastors, fellowship meetings, etc.
We are good for each other. Just as Joseph’s brothers inflicted wrong upon him, God reversed it to his good and theirs also. Joseph, already had a good relationship with his God, but being taken away from
familiar surroundings allowed him to grow the more in his likeness of the Lord This is clearly seen in his dealing with his offenders. We do not see a “but and if” attitude in his dealings, nor do we see the
“long-handled spoon” concept in his actions toward them. Such attitudes are nothing but cop outs. Instead of any of the above, Joseph’s maturity allowed him to see the hand of God in the whole matter, and since God’s will, was more important than his, he thought it best to forgive them and let God be glorified. Joseph assured his brethren that he would “nourish them” When we forgive, bitterness and hostility, anger, resent meet, separation, division, and any such like is forever put to rest.
Vengeance And To Whom Does It Belong?
It is very human for one to seek revenge after an offense occurs against them. And the less in tune with the spirit of God we are, the easier it is for us to be offended. Easily hurt feelings are a dead giveaway that one is immature spiritually. The less spiritual one is, the easier he is angered, and the more likely he is to revert to vengeance. After a considerable period of time, it has become clearer to me that one of the reasons the Lord forbids us from taking vengeance into our hands is that when we are offended, none of us can verbally, physically, or mentally attack one another and maintain a healthy degree of love. So rather than allowing us to fight our own battle He says, “Vengeance is mine”.
When you and I are offended, it is difficult for us to strike and not want to keep on striking until our offender is completely finished off. The Lord can strike and keep loving. So to keep us from getting in
too deep over our heads. He recommends that we should let Him fight our battles for us. It is when we are offended that we need a child-like spirit. Children can fall out with each other and be reconciled within the same hour, whereas us older children will let an offense carry us to an early grave. Yes, you read it right the first time – I said an early grave. I feel we are safe in saying that God forbids all revenge.
Revenge, according to the dictionary, is inflicting punishment or injury in return for a wrong done. This should not be limited to murder with a weapon, or poison, or some other violent act, because there are
some not so easily detected modes of revenge: cold treatment, failing to talk, or letting our tongues do the damage to a person’s character. Revenge is the alternative to forgiveness, notwithstanding, it is not
open to true believers. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19) (N.I.B.) “Make sure that nobody pays
back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (I Thess. 5:15) (N.I.B.) “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Ro. 12:17-18).
Forgiveness seeks to heal the wounds, tear down the walls of hostility, and make well all who are involved. All forgiveness costs something. We agree to bare the pain of the other person’s wrong.
Forgiveness is not agreeing with the wrong. You are honestly saying, yes, you wronged me, I am deeply hurt, but I will not let the hurt destroy our fellowship and keep us out of heaven. As I have often said,
there are two things a child of God must be quick to do; quick to repent, and quick to forgive. Just as sure as you live in this world, you are sure to be offended, hurt, ill treated, misused, lied on, talked about, wrongly accused, misunderstood, etc. Therefore, knowing these things it behooves us to be quick to release an offense.
Hurt feelings, which (lead to) become bitterness, are like acid. They will destroy any container that holds them; or like cancer, the longer it remains, the more it spreads; or like a plague, it must be quarantined to keep it from spreading. Forgiveness is a life-giver. It frees both the offender and the offended. It unifies, refreshes and restores estranged relationships. As it was in the case of Joseph, in his heart it was time to enjoy one another, bury the past, and make good of the present. This is what God’s medicine will do.
Bitterness Will Destroy You
Dwelling on hurt feelings will always lead to bitterness, resentment, hostility, and even murder. The Bible has much to say on the subject of bitterness and its dangers. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” (Eph. 4:31).
In the book of Esther, we have a very clear example of how bitterness can destroy one’s life. Haman was elevated to a lofty position by the king and with his promotion came orders to give him the utmost respect. There was a Jew name Mordecai who refused to follow the pattern of all the rest. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. It was told Haman that Mordecai did not bow or reverence him. “And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.” (Esther 3:5) Haman’s pride for recognition made him hostile, and bitter and resentful.
Many small thinking people’s feelings have been hurt over what they feel to be improper recognition. It is difficult to give acceptable recognition to a person who is overcome with pride. No matter what you do for them, they feel that you have fallen short. In other words they feel, anyone with my greatness should always be given the red carpet treatment; carry my attache case, open the door for me, give me the kingly treatment. All of these are no doubt good manners to have toward one another, yet none of us should feel that anyone owes us such treatment or feel that we deserve a special kind of treatment.
In our ranks, I feel at times we are a bit too title conscience. When someone forgets to add Elder, Bishop, Evangelist or Pastor, some of us act as though the title makes us, rather than the person dignifying the title. It might sound petty, but the spirits of many have become wounded due to what they felt to be improper recognition.
Haman was promoted, but couldn’t enjoy his promotion, because one man seemed to be out of tune with his estimation of his position. The glory of this office was overshadowed by his obsession to retaliate.
Bitterness began to eat on him from that time on. The very sight of Mordecai would kill his joy. “Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the King’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.” (Esther 5:9) This example of Haman’s has been duplicated over and over again in our midst. Anytime we allow bitterness to disease our spirits, our joy is turned into pain, frustration, anger, and hostility.
Many Christians feel more at home when certain people are absent. Rather than forgive, they wish Sister Kill Joy would stay home. There should be no question in your mind about the cause of your depressed
feelings because of the presence of another person. Scheming, plotting, avoiding, nor anything else will be able to remove that ill feeling. God’s medicine for that ailment is to forgive that one that holds the
key to your joy. It is clear from the actions of Haman that the ultimate goal of all bitterness is destruction. And anytime we allow someone to anger us beyond our willingness to control it, we will
destroy and be destroyed. Trying to be happy or trying to enjoy the Lord with bitterness in your heart, is like trying to detect the sweetness of a watermelon with lemon pie in your mouth.
Another example of the poisonous effect of bitterness is found in the 13th chapter of II Samuel. There the first rape is recorded. Amnon raped his sister and sent her away. In her shame and humiliation, she
told her brother Absalom and from that day forward Absalom gave him the silent treatment. Very often bitterness is expressed through silence or avoidance. Allow me to say, suppression of anger is no good, because the least little spark will cause an all out explosion. The act of confrontation is the other side of suppression. Express your feelings. Go to the one who hurt you. You will find that your wounds will heal
much faster Absalom brewed in his bitterness and plotted two years waiting for a chance to make Amnon pay for the hurt and shame brought upon his sister. Absalom no doubt felt that he had justifiable cause to hate his brother after what he had done. Allow me to point out that regardless of what someone else does, none of us has a right to hold a grudge. If we do so it will destroy us and those who are close to us Absalom’s bitterness caused him to commit murder. All bitterness seeks is more time and it will manifest itself in many other forms. Just as Absalom’s bitterness caused him to murder his brother, our bitterness will cause us to do the same to our brother. Don’t ever think that you can be angry and it not affect you. Research has shown that the negative emotions that often accompany unforgiveness, particularly when those emotions are repressed, can cause or aggravate disease.
Dr. S.I. McMillen in his book “None Of These Diseases” explains how our emotions produce changes in our body. “The emotional center produces these widespread changes by changing the amount of blood
flowing to an organ, by affecting the secretions of certain glands; and by changing the tension of muscles” (Revel!., P. 59). Dr. McMillen goes on to document how emotional stress can cause or aggravate a host of disorders including ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, high blood pressure, headaches, diabetes, asthma, hives, hay fever, backaches, muscle spasms, arthritis, infections, heart attacks, colitis, high cholesterol, and exhaustion. Absalom’s dwelling on the hurt he felt for the wrong done to his sister, for two long years, gave him the degree of bitterness it took to cause him to commit murder. It would be wise for us to learn, not to dwell on our hurt, or it will become bitterness, which leads to resentment, which leads to hostility, which leads to hatred, which leads to murder. “If you are angry, don’t sin by
nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry, get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil.” (Eph. 4:26-27 L.B.) When we allow anger to rule in our
lives, it is like preparing Satan a choice meal, and inviting him over. Only he brings his gear not just to spend an hour or two, because as long as we hold on to our anger, it goes without saying he has found
himself a home.
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult”. (I Peter 3:9 N.I.B.). Most believers would not go to the extreme of physical violence, but we often revert to a more subtle form of vengeance. Some people refuse to talk or associate with another. Some spread lies and half-truths to destroy another’s character. Some resort to gossiping, back-biting, whispering, criticizing, and being rude to others. Anything we do to make one pay or to get back at them is revenge. Unlike the action taken by Absalom, the Bible tells us to be angry but sin not. The Living Bible says “get over it quickly.”
Anger is a natural response to hurt, and if we dwell too long on those hurt feelings bitterness is born, and once we become bitter, it destroys our capacity to love as we should. If we do not deal properly by confessing and forgiving, (please, this confessing is not to the Lord, but to the one that has been offended), after bitterness comes hostility. It is not an overnight child. Lester Sumrall explains that
hostility is born “Out of the festering brew of unconfessed and unresolved hatred, anger, fear; and resentment “.
When hurt is allowed to remain too long in an unforgiving attitude of resentment, it becomes hostility. Our tongues play a major role in putting anger to rest. It is impossible to keep talking about your hurt, and expect it to go away. The Lord shared with me one morning in prayer that negative speech is the fuel that anger operates on. Anger is found in the Bible 234 times in 284 verses. So you can see why one needs to practice tongue control, lest he or she continue to fuel his or her anger. When feelings get involved, the more one talks, the angrier he or she becomes. “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth
out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” (Prov. 26:20).
Some of the following scriptures may be of value to you m your battle with your tongue. Pr. 26:20-18, 10:17-21, 11:9, 15:1-2, 16:27-28, 18:6-8; James 1:19, 3:6, 4:11, 1:26; I Peter 3:10; Titus 3:2, Pr. 13:3, 21:23; Ps. 34:13. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Pr. 17:22).
Our dealings with others will either lift our spirits or crush them. This is why it is so important to practice forgiveness for when we fail to forgive, we imprison, wound, sadden, and just down right dry up our spiritual life. In a previous lesson we noted, how bitterness in the spirit of Haman toward Mordecai took away his joy. Anyone who allows ill feelings toward another to keep him from enjoying the
presence of the Lord has been truly robbed. Whenever the presence of another causes your spirit to fall or to be disturbed, it is a true sign that you need some inside attention. There is something in you that needs to come out. We can never be made well as long as something keeps applying pressure on to our sore spot, nevertheless, forgiveness will heal us from the inside.
No Divisions – Please Mix Love With Forgiveness
We can all afford to allow hurts, misunderstandings, or other issues of any nature divide us. I have often said, we are everything together and nothing apart. Nothing serves the devil’s purpose like division. It becomes very clear wherever he is allowed to work, some of everything but the right thing is known to happen. “And by all mean don’t brag about being wise and good if you are bitter and jealous and selfish. That is the worst sort of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, inspired by the devil. For wherever there is jealousy or selfish ambitions, there will be disorder and every kind of evil.” (James 3:14-16 L.B.).
Bitterness and jealousy run together like snow and cold or candy and sweet. When we allow others’ abilities to provoke us to the wrong kind of jealousy, we are sure to become bitter. This is the way of the
natural man, to become jealous over a neighbor’s good looking yard, larger house, finer car, nicer clothes, better education. This kind of spirit in the world separates people into groups; the rich, the upper middle class, middle class and the poor. And whenever any group tries to cross over, the walls, which are as much invisible as they are visible, are there to remind us. Now as bad as this is, it’s worse when we allow walls of any sort to bring about divisions among the body of Christ. But sad to say we have often allowed the spirit of selfishness to provoke us to jealousy, over another’s progress in the ministry.
You improve your teaching, preaching, singing, praying, leadership; your church starts growing. Any of the above are door openers for the carnal minded to be moved to jealousy. The death of many fellowship meetings among churches m the same general area or city is caused by that kind of jealousy. Elder Popcorn preached and one of Pastor Apple’s deep members, who never say amen when Pastor Apple
preaches, got up and shouted and danced while Pastor Popcorn was preaching, and I know I can preach better than Elder Popcorn. From now on we will not be going to the fellowship meeting, and to make sure we do not we will have something whenever the date rolls around for the fellowship.
As petty as that might sound, there are many who only think under that selfish mode. The Lord knows if you allow one of their, as they will say, members, to be taken into your congregation, that will close
all doors for fellowship, church wise or any other wise. It is no small wonder that God’s word puts such high value on forgiving one another, because when we fail to do so, it opens the door for bitterness and all of its children.
Organizational crisis arises from selfish ambition. Whenever some few egotistical glory seekers are allowed to promote their ideas or person to the neglect of more accepted ones, it brings bitterness and
divisions. Any time one in a group or family thinks only of what best suits him or her, it opens the door for other evils. Jealousy caused Cain to slay Abel, and it has been causing trouble ever since. It has
killed individual fellowships, group fellowships, congregational, and area fellowships, and is working overtime to destroy national fellowship. It has produced independent groups the world over seeking
to free themselves from divisions without realizing that if we practice forgiveness, we will solve the problem that withdrawal can never accomplish.
Anytime the devil suggests separation, it is for his benefit because he knows, “Together we stand, divided we fall”. The thing or things about another person that bothers you will never be overcome by withdrawal. Our best bet is to seek to get closer to that individual or group in order to make the proper assessment of the situation. You see it could be me or you that irritates the matter. Whatever the case may be, when we use God’s medicine of forgiveness, all will be made well. Satan thrives on situations that arise to provoke separation because this will breed wounded spirits and bitter attitudes. This will set in motion the kind of atmosphere that disallows the Holy spirit to work.
In our attempt to get the body well, we have spent many dollars attempting to accomplish what can only be accomplished through forgiveness. In other words, we have advertised and summoned in some of
God’s finest preachers, hoping to have an out break, influx, and refreshing of souls, only to discover business as usual. I am fully convinced that there are too many clouds of hurt feelings hovering over
the family of God, for the sunshine of revival to come through. Under these conditions nothing short of repentance and forgiveness will bring real revival. Forgiveness will also bring health to some of our broken marriages and family situations.
I am fully convinced that many marriages could be healed if we would faithfully adhere to God’s medicine of forgiveness. Too many people who know Jesus as their personal Savior are getting involved in divorces. It goes without saying, whenever two people are bound that close together, any separation would or should bring much pain. I am further convinced that these hurts don’t just begin with the departure of an individual. There had to have been something that preceded the divorce which forgiveness would have or could have healed or made well enough to live with. It is difficult to conceive of two people having enough love to get together without having enough to forgive.
You that are married, when you and your spouse encounter difficult times, don’t run to another family member to spend the night, unless both of you are going. No doubt someone will reason why go, if
the other one is going? That is the point. You should do nothing that you cannot do together. Never let anything arise among you that you cannot settle before morning. Don’t give Satan the upper hand in your marriage or home. Forgive one another. This is the only medicine that is known to minister health and happiness to every kind of ill. “I am sorry,” might at times seem to be the hardest words in the English vocabulary, yet they are no doubt words that restore life to a dying soul. “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” (Pr. 11:17).
When we show mercy in dealing with others, we are helping ourselves also. Kindness opens the door for kindness to return to the one who shows it. When we forgive an offense we are allowing the mercy
and kindness of the Lord to come through, but when we are cruel, we destroy ourselves from within. When we allow hurt feelings, resentment, grudges, bitterness, and hostility to lodge in our spirits, we are hindered from loving as we should even the ones we are trying to love. My dear reader why not at this point resolve in your heart that you are going to release everyone that has wronged or hurt you. Say, I am going to make a consciencous decision to no longer be dominated by what has happened to me, and with the Jesus kind of love, I will freely forgive every offender and offense. I will not maximize them or minimize them, I will forgive.
When this kind of decision is made you will receive healing on the inside and I stress the inside kind of healing, because there are many who appear well outwardly, but are not well inwardly. They remind
me of my boyhood days, and how we would treat a cut. We would pack dirt in the wound and by the next morning it would have formed a scab. A few days later it would appear well, but if you applied pressure to that spot, pus would ooze out, letting you know in spite of how well it appeared on the outer surface, it wasn’t well on the inside.
Many of the children of the Lord, from the outside, appear well, but when pressure is applied what comes out of their mouth or attitude will often overwhelm you and makes it known that they are not well on the inside. Again I say people who refuse to forgive are playing God, for He is the only one who is authorized to retaliate. All the rest of us are told to forgive those who trespass against us. And refusal
places you in the arena to take on God and convince Him that you have justifiable grounds not to have to forgive a brother or sister.
Nevertheless when we consider the wonderful results of forgiveness, we should be compelled to get involved, thereby freeing our own spirit, healing the wounds of others, pulling down walls of
opposition, broken relationships, broken friendships, dissolving old grudges, and ushering in revivals, and uniting the body, so that our attack against the real enemy can have God’s full support. These are
some of the few results that are granted through the use of God’s medicine of forgiveness.
Forgiveness Should Be Without Limits
Peter, like many of us, wanted to know how often could one offend and still be forgiven. He cited the common expression of his day, “till seven times?”. Jesus gave him a much larger number to multiply his
seven by. He said, “seventy times seven”. That would equal 490, nevertheless, the emphasis is not on the figure, but on the fact that forgiveness should be unlimited. To drive home this point, he told them
a parable of a servant who owed his master a debt beyond his ability to pay. His master accepted his plea for mercy and forgave him the debt. Remember this debt that was forgiven him was too great for him to pay. Every child of God should take a good look at this passage and see ourselves as that man who owed a debt he could not pay, and was granted unlimited forgiveness.
Again, to forgive is to cancel or remit the debt. Forgiveness should never be predicated on the size of the offense, but upon the fact you have freely received so you are to freely forgive. When we do not freely forgive, it seems easy for us to forget that we have been forgiven a debt beyond our ability to pay. The servant in Jesus’ parable upon his release of that awful debt, went immediately and found a fellow servant who owed him chicken change and demanded payment to be made. His fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, using the identical words he himself had previously used, but unlike his master,
he showed no mercy. He had his fellow servant cast into prison, because his fellow servant was unable to pay. The action taken by this forgiven servant is very typical of what many of God’s children practice today.
We soon forget that one day a debt hung over our head that we were unable to pay and that we were forgiven the debt by the grace of God. His forgiving us opened the door for us to pass on to others the
medicine of forgiveness. We can ill afford to be like the servant in the parable, willing to receive forgiveness, but unwilling to grant pardon to the one in debt to him. This kind of amnesia no doubt brings great sadness to the heart of our Savior. Only a heart that is ungrateful could have gone out and found a fellow servant and treated him or her with such coldness. You would think that after being
relieved of such an enormous debt the servant would have called for a celebration with his family and friends, and any, and everyone he met, telling them about the mercy that had been shown him. Instead he goes out to retaliate his hidden feelings upon his fellow servant. His actions express the pride of face. Just as his master was able to demand from him, the servant found someone obligated to him.
Pride is often the wall that hinders forgiveness. When we have too high an estimation of ourselves, our pride says no one has a right to offend us. And if someone should, we will ignore it or lie about it
rather than admit we have been hurt. You can never overcome anything until you first admit it has happened. Pride seeks to make one feel that they are being taken for a dunce, because nobody treats you like that and gets away with it. You have never taken the last lick, look, or word and to do so now would kill your pride. That’s good, since hell doesn’t honor pride, and heaven doesn’t receive it.
Granting forgiveness, says, I was hurt, and to say, I am sorry, is to admit that one was wrong. If pride keeps me from admitting the hurt, it surely keeps me from acknowledging that forgiveness is in
order and that I’m responsible for coming to terms with it. I am convinced that it was pride that caused that servant to go and demand payment from his fellow servant in order to make himself look good. But
before we become too critical of this man, what about the debt we owed and could not pay? And how about those offenses we are unwilling to forgive? Are not we forgetting that we were freely forgiven? “So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their Lord all that was done.” (Matt. 18:31) It is very clear in this text that your ill treatment affects not only the one you direct it to, but others also who are aware of your dealings. His lord was wroth and had him delivered to the tormentors until he could pay all. And since his debt was beyond his ability to pay ever, he would forever be in the hands of the tormentors.
Failing to forgive, has placed many of the children of God in the grasp of the tormentors, for when we fail to forgive we become an open prey for troubling thoughts and feelings. Feelings of insecurity, frustration, depression, edginess, gloominess, dejection, and irritability. These feelings make it difficult for one to love even the ones they claim to love. Jesus emphatically stated, that if our forgiveness is not from the heart, our heavenly Father will have to deal the same with us. “And his lord was wroth and delivered him to his tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespass.” (Matt. 18:34-35) “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt.
I think the Lord is very clear on this subject. The condition upon which we receive forgiveness is that of how we forgive those who trespass against us. I times past I’ve been asked does one have to forget the offense committed against them? I like to follow that question with one of my own. Do you think the Lord has forgotten the wrongs done by us? Surely not, but He has freely forgiven us, therefore, He treats us as though it never happened. And when you and I truly forgive an offense, we too must treat the offender as though it never happened. Someone will no doubt say, that’s hard. Maybe so, but it is exactly what our master expects of us. Away with that I forgive you, but keep your distance. I forgive you, but I’ll be watching you, and from now on I will feed you with a long-handled spoon. Much of what we call forgiveness is nothing short of religious hypocrisy. That is why Jesus said it must be done from the heart. Allow me to say, don’t expect your feeling to suggest forgiving a hurt, because the first natural reaction to hurt is anger. To forgive is to respond to the Holy Ghost, and as with all obedience, the feeling will follow the act.
Previously we spoke about Joseph forgiving his brothers. His insight of God’s plan for his life blessed him to act in mercy and love, like the Master himself. The question comes to mind, can one be truly saved without practicing unlimited forgiveness? The obvious answer to the preceding question is, there is no way one can truly know Jesus without expressing His love to others. Many or most of our problems with forgiveness isn’t that what was done makes it impossible to forgive, it’s where we are in Christ that creates the problem. When one’s relationship with Christ is not good, it is almost impossible, if not impossible, to maintain a healthy relationship with your fellow man. Spiritual midgets and unstable followers will always stumble at the practice of forgiveness, while those who are stable, thankful, and
mature in their relationship with Christ will welcome the privilege to express the nature of their great leader.
At no point in your life, do you show your Christlikeness, as when you forgive. “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Acts 7:59-60) Stephen was so in tune with the spirit of his Lord, he was able to pray for the ones putting him to death. Just think the least little thing someone does or says to us, we feel justified to retaliate. This passage was not just left on record to fill out the pages, but to leave us a human example of how forgiveness works when one allows Christ to work it through them. What more hurt can you do to someone than put them to death with physical force, nevertheless this godly servant is praying that his soon to be murderers not be charged with this heinous crime.
Forgiveness may not be the only way one can show his or her Christ-likeness, but it is by far the most powerful demonstration of having a Christ-like heart. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for
they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) This is the divine attitude toward ill treatment. The human side is to get even, make them pay, while the God side says “no charge”. When we forgive an offense we are only passing on a small portion of what we have freely received.
The Purpose Of Forgiveness
The purpose of forgiveness is, One, to restore or create a relationship between two or more people. This was the case with Joseph and his brothers. A wrong action or attitude on his part would have never ended on such a sweet note. This was seen in Absalom’s dealing with his brother Amnon. He refused to forgive, therefore no relationship could be restored. When we forgive, we are brought together by the restoring love of God. Paul writes in Col. 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” God’s word tells us to put up with each other. An offense is no grounds to break off relationships with one another. And for those of us who find it hard, He gives us a clear example, “even as Christ forgave you”. Surely my and your sins will exceed what any brother or sister might do to us. So then from the heart we issue the no charge kind of
forgiveness, even as we have received from the Lord.
It is a fact that hate, bitterness, resentment, hostility, criticism, jealously and none of their relations can operate where love abounds. That is why God’s word admonishes us, “but by love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13) The word of God allows for us having differences, quarrels, and being angry, notwithstanding, all of these things can be overcome with love. The love of Christ in our heart is stronger than any walls man or Satan can erect. Let us refuse to let Satan plant in our spirits ill feelings and grudges toward one another. Find that person that you have lost relationship with and rebuild that communion for Christ’s sake.
A second reason for forgiveness is to promote unity in the body of Christ. There is no greater desire in the heart of our Savior than to have His Church as one. “That they all may be one;” (St. John 17:21)
My wife and I have often said the best trick Satan pulled since the scheme in the Garden, is dividing the people of God. Many of the things which divide us are quite petty such as, the color of our skin, selfish
ambitions, jealousy, pride of place or face, covetousness, egotism, etc. We can find in the word of God a remedy for that disease. “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things
wherewith one may edify another.” (Rom. 14:19) “Finally, brethren, farewell, Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (II Cor. 13:11) “And be at peace among yourselves. ” (I Thess. 5:13 L.B.) “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18) When we follow these instructions, we are sure to bring about the Christ kind of unity. As sure as offenses are going to come, forgiving is sure to heal those hurts and bring us closer together.
Paul in I Cor. chapter 5, instructed the Church to deliver a certain brother who was living in open sin to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. This form of discipline was to correct the wrong, and wake up his flesh. Later in II Cor. chapter 2, he calls for the church to forgive the brother. “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.” (II Cor. 2:7) No matter what the sin is we should stand ready to forgive. Nothing else bombards Satan’s schemes like forgiving. “I wrote to you as I did so that I could find out how far you would go in obeying me. When you forgive anyone, I do too. And whatever I have forgiven to the extent that this affected me too has been by Christ’s authority, and for your good.
“A further reason for forgiveness is to keep from being outsmarted by Satan; for we know what he is trying to do.” (II Cor. 2:9-11 L.B.) Whenever a Church scandal arises, there is deep need for forgiveness to be practiced by all, lest Satan use this error to develop a worse situation. From this kind of misfortune springs gossip, whispering, talebearing, criticism, cliques, etc. Carnality is the father of all the above. You would think with all the problems in the life of a carnal person, they would be more sympathetic, but no they are the main ones that want everyone to like them, and not to do so are grounds for them to form their own fan club and oppose and criticize all who seek to rise to a higher spiritual level. I feel safe in saying that the highest percentage of Church disunity is caused by carnality. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (I Cor. 3:3).
When we walk in the spirit of carnality we make it hard, if not impossible, for unity to live in our midst. The lack of unity will always point out the lack of spiritual maturity. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (I Cor. 3:1) Babes, are division promoters, grudge carriers, clique organizers, rumor spreaders, sin promoters, and confusion advocates. Babes in Christ find it easier to hate than love; to be bitter, rather than forgive. Again let me reiterate, nothing shows your Christ-likeness and spiritual maturity like practicing forgiveness. So whenever you get a chance to forgive an offense, remember you are following after the heart of your Savior who would have us follow in His steps. “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, Suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps:” (I Peter 2:19-21).
Anytime a child of God’s suffers wrong when he is right, he is following in the greatest footsteps that ever made a mark in the sands of time; Jesus the righteous. Therefore, let us as children of God, bury our hatchets, handle and all and throw out the life line of love, drawing each other together.
A third reason for forgiveness is to demonstrate to the world the powerful forgiving love of Jesus Christ. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love
one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35) There can be no greater demonstration to a world embalmed with hate, than to see the children of God walking in love. All love carries a built in clause for forgiving. It goes without saying, anytime two or more persons are brought together, there are going to be some kind of problems arise to
test the quality of their love and the consistency of their forgiving. If we can only love when people act good, there will be many days we will not be allowed to love. The sum total of God’s law is love. “For
all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Gal. 5:14) When the quality of our love is genuine, it is not a difficult thing for us to manifest forgiveness. After all we are relying on the love of Jesus in our hearts to manifest and accomplish what we ourselves could never accomplish.
The more you do for people and the more you involve yourself, the more you open yourself for hurt, causing you to have to stand ready and willing to forgive. To accomplish spiritual results, one must walk in the spirit, feed on spiritual things, be often in prayer, in watching, and in fasting. God’s word operating in our lives is a must for spiritual survival. None of God’s principles work well in a unspiritual
life. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Ps. 119:11) When God’s word dwells in our hearts it will safeguard us against sin, even the sin of unforgiving. It is a absolute must that God’s word shine within us to lead us in the right way, and the right attitude toward one another. God’s word is alive and will keep us alive. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edge sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).
God’s word can and will perform surgery in our hearts if we allow it. When bitterness, resentment, hostility, anger, murder or any of their relationships attempt to invade our hearts, the hidden word in
our hearts, will rise in our defense. The power of God’s word is our foundation for being able to love one another and to forgive as Christ hath forgiven us. “And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted,
forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32) No plainer words can be spoken than these on the subject. This text contains all the necessary ingredients for
practicing forgiveness, kindness, tenderheartedness, along with Christ’s example of forgiving us, to measure it by.
Bishop Clifton Jones, an anointed preacher of the word and gifted Bible teacher, is also blessed with the ministry of writing. The author of several books, including the popular PRAYER CLINIC MANUAL, he has written another divinely appointed treatise to the body of Christ, GOD’S MEDICINE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY – FORGIVE. The message of this book is desperately needed for this hour and will prove to be life changing for those who will actively put its principles into practice.
Bishop Jones is the pastor of Jerusalem Temple Church in Philadelphia, Mississippi and is the Diocesan of the Mississippi and Western Tennessee District Council of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. He is married to May Frances Jones and is the father of three children.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY GOLDEN SSCROLL PUBLISHERS, 1991, PAGES 1-31. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.