Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pastor Paul: Forgiving our Enemies

Pastor Paul Sheppard, one of my favorite preachers, besides my pastor, Dr. Lucius M. Dalton, aired a message today about forgiveness that was quite powerful. The sermon is part of a series he's airing this week called "Kingdom First Living," as his page on explains, the series is about, "how God uses our challenges to set us up to experience His divine purpose."

-Pastor Paul points out that some of us believe that forgiveness means the person who hurt you gets away with it. He explains that the Greek word for forgive means to "send away." I looked up this word at and the English transliteration is "Aphiemi," pronounced "Af-ee'-ay-mee." We send the offender to God so that he can bring them to repentance. If they don't turn to God, He will deal with them with His punishment. No one gets past God says Pastor Paul after he quoted Psalm 37:1-9

Sheppard goes on to explain that when you fixate on the past, and vow to hurt those who have hurt you, you can't move forward with the future God has planned for you. If we want God to forgive us, we first must forgive others and not hold grudges. "If we are to obey God," said Pastor Paul, "not forgiving others is not a choice."

There were so many great passages from Pastor Paul's sermon. Here's a paraphrase of my favorites:
--"Some of us are holding hostages in our heart--all of the people who wronged us. We act as jailers when we don't forgive people."
--"Unforgiveness is an emotion that makes one feel like they (those you don't forgive) owe me and I am gonna make them pay."
--"Unforgiveness causes you to be a warden as you lock people up in your hearts that you won't forgive. You are causing them to serve in the jail of your mind and your heart."
--God does not give us the right to exact vengeance on our enemies. God has a plan for us and where he wants us to go does not involve us bringing along prisoners in our hearts and minds. Leave all of the people who have wronged you to the Lord. He quotes the King James Version of the Bible, Romans 12:19, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

In the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, Romans 12:19 says, "Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, 'I am the one to take revenge and pay them back.' "

This is a message that I will get on CD and send to friends who are reluctant to forgive others who has done them wrong. It's a lesson that I'm trying to apply in my life.

I'm slowly learning to forgive others and as a result, God will forgive me.

Be blessed by forgiving someone today.

Your Brother in Christ,

Steven Kendall