THE VALUE OF FORGIVING AND SUBMITTING TO YOUR BROTHER
Reverend O. R. McMahan
The ear-splitting sound sent the little congregation diving to the floor instantly. There on the floor just behind the altar lay a large rock which had just crashed through the window pane and splintered it into hundreds of pieces. The sobs of the children and the prayers of the members could be heard as a soft moan was coming from outside.
The agitators still remained back in the shadows, but the glee of laughter pierced the silent night outside. Then a coarse, hard voice cried out, “You better get out of town preacher and those fanatics following you. We don’t want your kind around here. You’re crazy.” A chorus of amens went up around the small wood frame church agreeing with the spokesman. “Get out of here or we will burn the place down,” another screamed. The violent, enraged mob were carrying out their orders well. Lucifer had instructed them to play bully and the little cowards inside would leave. They will wave a white rag out of the window, and we will be rid of the little pests.
But inside the uncomely, small building the young pastor gathered the members together and encouraged them to pray. “Folks, God wants a church in this city. We can’t let the Devil whip us now. Remember I John 4:4 says: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”
As the prayers grew louder and stronger, one by one the cowardly mob began to drift away until all were gone. The church had withstood the physical blows of the enemy and had come out victorious once again. Only a short time later and she was experiencing great revival and continual growth. The adversary had been thwarted because of the unity of a small band of believers.
How many times have instances occurred similar to the one just mentioned, and yet time and time again the church won out. Although in this period of time it does appear that the forces of hell have become educated enough to realize that fire, guns, lions, armies, or governments cannot stop the church of the living God; so hell regrouped herself and devised a new plan of attack. If we cannot defeat from without, let us try to defeat from within.
So in the generation which has seen an undeclared war, immorality rampant, thievery and lying in top government offices, sex scandals of politicians; Lucifer has once again begun his attack and brought the product of all these things into the church: distrust among brethren of like precious faith. If he can sow the seed of distrust and destroy the unity of God’s children, he has won a major battle,
Perhaps nothing can so completely stymie the work of God as internal division. This in no wise relates only to a national scale, but let two pastors in the same town be divided, and they spend more time fighting each other than the Devil. Let two saints in the same church become crossed and their productivity for God has diminished. Our enemy desires that we be critical and unforgiving, harboring hatred and bitterness in order to keep our eyes from the true objective of defeating him.
The subject to come under the scrutiny of our hearts today is forgiving and submitting. Enlightened by the Word of God, we soon learn we are not perfect, and we do make mistakes. Can we, as Men of God, allow our brothers the same privilege we afford ourselves? None of them are perfect, they do make mistakes; but a common denominator among us should be FORGIVENESS.
II. WHAT IS FORGIVING???
Webster says to forgive means—“the giving up not only of any claims of requital or retribution but also to any resentment or desire for revenge.”
Of course, it would certainly be the ideal situation if a man never needed to ask forgiveness; but alas, the spirit is willing but the flesh isweak. In reality, many times a struggle is brought between two brothers in what is commonly called a personality clash, Perhaps, it would be the ego on one’s part or an inferiority complex of the other, Yet, regardless of the reason for the struggle, a man needs to recognize how much is really at stake.
It goes beyond personalities, ideas, programs, or friends. The man must be willing to forgive, or he will allow the cancer of bitterness and hatred to destroy him.
Surely nothing could more ably depict the personification of forgiveness than our Lord’s crucification. He who knew no sin, became our sin that we might have true forgiveness. Hear the words of Jesus while suspended between heaven and earth, feeling the agony, the sheer pain of the cross and nails: “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Where is the bitterness, the desire for revenge? These have gone when the floodlight of forgiveness begins to shine. Surely Jesus, you don’t deserve this: call Michael and the rest of the heavenly host to set you free. No, he wants not just one segment of society or one religious cult, but the whole world to know what real genuine forgiveness is. There will be no resentment or desire for revenge where real forgiveness is in action. In its most simple form forgiveness is loving others when the carnal man says hate, retaliate, resent, criticize, or hurt them. So first of all, when we look through the eyeglass of the Bible, we see forgiveness as a pardon with no resulting resentment or desire for revenge.
III. THE CHALLENGE TO FORGIVE ”
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesian church, admonished them to recognize that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against Principalities, against Powers . . . Spiritual Wickedness. There are many spirits today which attack our generation ceaselessly, and one of them is to hold a grudge, get revenge, never forgive, make someone really pay for a mistake. This spirit is certainly prevalent in all age groups from children to fully-matured adults. So the church must recognize the work of the spirit world in order not to allow her wickedness to overwhelm the church.
We have a challenge before us when the world cries for blood. Let us remain staunch and merciful in forgiveness. Listen to Paul again, “Let allbitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:31-32. Shall we allow our spiritual ears to hear, be tenderhearted, kind and forgiving – what a challenge we have. The world screams for revenge, but Calvary pleads forgiveness.
IV. THE WINNER IN FORGIVING
Trivial offenses we quickly forgive: “Oh, don’t mention it.” An unreturned phone call, a missed appointment, a late payment, these things we accept. But what of malicious slander, or treachery where friendship is pledged? “I thought he was my friend; well, it looks like he wears the coat of a chameleon. When He is with me, he’s my friend; when he’s away, he talks about me.” This does happen; and as long as we are in this natural body, it will continue to happen. Yet, ask yourself: “Can I forgive my brother’s fault and love him anyway?” If you can’t, you are a loser. Jesus said: “When ye stand praying, forgive if ye have ought against any, that your Father may also forgive you. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25-26. So the Scripture which states whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap comes to us again. If I forgive my brother’s faults, God will forgive mine. It makes a real winner out of me. Many times, we feel mistreated by another and maybe justifiably so. But are we to major on one failure in his life and junk all of his good traits and characteristics. Let us grow into spiritual maturity, to love even when mistreated, to forgive when hurt or when we feel left out.
In the history of Joseph’s life, I do not believe he waited until his brothers came to Egypt to forgive them. You see, had he determined to keep bitterness and hatred for them, it would have disannulled what God was going to use him for. But I believe years before they were to bow before him requesting food, Joseph had found a place for forgiveness for them. Part of his ability to be exalted in Egypt was a direct result of being able to forgive. Who is the winner in forgiving? You are the greatest winner in forgiving by far. You see, God cannot forgive you if you are unable to forgive. Romans 8:28 explains so beautifully the attitude we should have. If something goes wrong between my brother and me this Scripture says: “And we know all things work together for good to them who love God and are the called according to his purpose.” So I should forgive my brother, love God and look for the silver lining in the cloud overhead. Joseph, how do I know you forgave your brothers? Where was the revenge – the resentment? Forgiveness will not allow resentment or revenge. Joseph was a real winner. You, my friend, can be a real winner.
Judge not and you shall not be judged
Condemn not and you shall not be condemned
Forgive and you shall be forgiven
Matthew 18:21-11 states: “then came Peter to him and said, ‘Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?’ Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” The Rabbis said that three pardons were enough. Peter proposed to show his big heart and so suggested seven times. But Jesus insisted that there must be no limits to forgiveness. Seventy times seven is four hundred and ninety: we can do it in our heads. But this is celestial arithmetic, we must do it with our hearts. Jesus meant “seventy times seven times seven” – to infinity. It is a problem in conduct rather than arithmetic.
If any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, alsodo ye, These were the words to the Colossians and also to Twentieth-Century Pentecostals.