unforgiveness causes division and destruction

12 08 2008

Jesus made it clear that it was very important to forgive others.  Consider His statement in Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

In addition to the consequence of not being forgiven, it’s also important to forgive others so you don’t become bitter and resentful.  Unfortunately, I’ve recently seen what happens when people have a problem with a church leader and refuse to let go of it.  The offense (whether real or perceived) continues to grow in their minds, and all of a sudden they can see “evidence” of it everywhere.  But the reality is, we often see what we are expecting.  For example, if you think someone doesn’t like you, and they walk by you without saying “Hi”, then that’s “evidence” to your belief, even if they were really in a hurry or just didn’t notice you.

Recently I’ve seen people get so caught up with offenses that they left their church.  Maybe they were done wrong by someone — I don’t know, and I’m not the judge — but aren’t we all supposed to forgive the offender regardless?  And if the pain is still there, we are supposed to take it to Jesus and let Him bear our burden.  I realize this may not be easy, but when we surrender our burden to Jesus, He gives us rest, and His burden is light.

Because of all this bitterness / unforgiveness / offense, several people have left the church they were called to, and I’ve seen several families get hurt.  Of course gossip had a part to play in this, too.  I don’t know why some people are so compelled to keep up with other people’s lives.  As always happens with gossip, the story gets twisted around and made worse than it really was, and so undue shame and condemnation gets put on people.

I figure some of the people who do this stuff think they are doing right, by some rationalization of their actions, but if they could see the hurt they put certain people through, surely they would see the danger of it.  But then again, I don’t know, because deception can blind people to reality.

Even though I haven’t been a target of any of that, I’m still hurt, because I have friends who were hurt.  And the work of the church has been damaged because of the division and hurt.  Why can’t people work at maintaining unity and focusing on God instead of our differences?  Of course we won’t always agree with how things are run, nor will people always make the right decisions and do the right things.  But our calling in Christ is bigger than our opinions and our judgments (which we often shouldn’t be making anyway).

I know, the argument can be made that I don’t know what so-and-so did, but I know that God has used a lot of imperfect people in the Bible, and He still does today.  So it really hurts me to see an anointed man of God get tore down by slander and gossip, to the point that he feels like he (and his family) can’t take it anymore.  It’s really not fair.  And it’s very sad that people would let the enemy (satan) come in and sow discord within the church.  (Did you know God hates it when someone spreads discord among the brethren?)

I’m not suggesting we overlook sin, but tearing people down is not the way to handle it.  Neither should we judge someone’s heart or motives.  And, like has already been said, we must forgive everyone, even if they don’t deserve it.  Holding on to unforgiveness for months is not Scriptural.

It just sickens me to see the destruction done to the church and to people of God because some folks won’t forgive.  It makes me angry to some degree, but more so, it makes me want to cry.  The work of God should be bigger than all the problems we face in trying to get along and work together.  It’s really sad that some people get caught up in human interactions and end up hurting the ministry more than helping it.  I heard someone say the kingdom of Hell was probably rejoicing on the day all this came together.

To my regular readers who aren’t aware of the details, I apologize for the vagueness, but I don’t want to start naming people or to even point to specific situations.  I’m not a judge of the stuff that did happen, nor do I know all the details.  And for everyone else, that’s true, too — we’re not the judge nor do we know all the details well enough to judge.  So I didn’t want to be specific.  I hope this serves as a warning to everyone, that it is so important to resolve differences and forgive people and agree to disagree sometimes.  The work of God is much bigger than our issues with each other.  I just felt like I needed to write on this, because it’s all so near to my heart at the moment.  I really am sad to the point of weeping at the destruction caused by people. I don’t know who meant well and who didn’t, and it’s not my place to judge anyone else, either, but regardless, the damage done to the work of God should not have happened.

[Edit: Let me clarify something that might need it: Just because someone left the church during this mess, it doesn’t mean they were part of the problem nor that they are harboring unforgiveness or bitterness.  There are people who tried to do the right thing yet got hurt.  Also, I am not angry at anybody, nor am I blaming anyone for all that has happened.  Honestly, I don’t know who did what, nor do I care.  What’s done is done.  I’m concerned with moving on from here, to grow closer to God and to reach our community.  I also want to see healing and reconciliation within the Body of Christ.  That doesn’t mean we all have to go to the same local church, but we do have to work through any issues we may have.  Again, I don’t know who is hurt and/or offended and/or bitter, if anyone still is.  But I wrote this post as a reminder to us all, that we must be very careful to not harbor any unforgiveness.  I still think the message (in general) applies, because Jesus warned us that offenses will come, and all of us can be tempted with blaming people and holding grudges and not forgiving them fully.  Thus we must be careful and examine our heart.

If anything I said in this post has offended you, please know that it was not intentional, and it is not directed at anybody in particular.  I did not have any person nor any group in mind when I wrote all this.  I’m just hurt and confused, wondering why things had to work out the way they did.  And now I’m ready to move on to what God has planned for us.]

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9 responses

12 08 2008
Mrs. Fab

You said everything I’m feeling, except in a much nicer way. Amazing how people think they’re being holy when they’re really acting like the devil. But it only makes sense, since they ARE working for him.

Yes, I said it.

Those who have nurtured perceived “offenses”, gossiped, refused to forgive, attacked and tore down an anointed man of God, and let their grudges override the ministry of the church definitely were NOT operating in the Spirit.

14 08 2008
Beppo’s Blog » Blog Archive » grow where you’re planted

[…] « unforgiveness causes division and destruction […]

15 08 2008
mzmobo

to quote you “…because deception can blind people to reality.”

and no, you don’t know. either of you. and i won’t disclose things in the public eye.

be careful what you say…i’ve already been accused of conjuring the very demons i’ve stirred…i think you both know better. i have no problem forgiving, but i cannot live under ‘ichabod.’

actually, i will disclose this…the “offenses” you talk about only confirmed things with me. i’m not crying now, but i have been crying for YEARS. the battered issue is just a symptom.

16 08 2008
Fab

Whether offenses are perceived, real, legitimate, or searched out by someone with a chip on their shoulder, the commandment from the BIBLE, not just some book by someone with an axe to grind is to forgive or you won’t be forgiven–period. To hyper-spiritualize and sensationalize something that people keep talking about among the holy offended, yet walk around mad at a FELLOW CHRISTIAN is not Christian at all. We aren’t called to get satisfaction, then forgive. We aren’t to demand an apology or even repentance from the other person, then forgive. We are simply told to forgive. Sometimes wounded people lash out and hurt other people. Sometimes we feel justified in our hurt feelings. Sometimes we think to ourselves, “if people only knew what they did to me or other people”, or whatever. This is the kind of stuff that Jesus died for. We don’t have any idea how much of our JUNK was nailed to that cross when Jesus took our punishment, pain, heartaches, sickness, etc. He died so that men could be reconciled to one another, not divided. We are to confront in love and speak the truth in love. It truly hurts me to see friends and family in the church begin hating, mistrusting, and fearing one another because we all think we’re right. You can be totally “right” and be wrong in the eyes of God. Do I know everything controversial that happened and who all was involved and why? No. Do I need to know these circumstances to know that the Word of God applies? No. Let every man be a liar, but God’s Word will stand and it is real, living, and unchanging.

Luke 6:37b Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

16 08 2008
Mobo

Ok, there seems to be a misunderstanding here…over and over again I keep reading about unforgiveness, holding grudges, etc. Let me make this as clear and straight forward as I can!… THERE IS NO HATRED OR GRUDGES TOWARD ANYONE!…so, in a nut shell, there is no need for forgiveness of which you are on and on about…YES! you are right about the whole forgiveness thing and I commend you for making it clear.
I know first hand that you,Fab, you have practiced what you are preaching…but let me also say, that the SIN you gave forgiveness for came with repentance, forgiveness, and consequences… EFFECTIVE consequences I might add.

with love,
Mobo

17 08 2008
SAMBO

Holy Father,

Thanks and praise to you this glorious morning. My heart is so full of love and praise that I needed to express it and what better place than where more people can have a chance to consider and turn their eyes upon you. You are Holy. You are All powerful,All knowing and everywhere all the time. What a joy to bow before your throne and offer my life and all that I am or ever can be to you in total surrender. May I consider diligently and yield my heart so completely to you that your Holy Spirit can dwell in me in a clean place. Thank you for having a plan for our church. Thank you that you have a man for this hour. I am so greatful that we do not have to rely on our own abilities or our own resources for filling this sacred desk. Bless this leader you have chosen for us. Bless his family and give them such an anointing that the move to us is a thrill to their soul that will only find fulfillment when they are finally here. Fill our hearts with excitment and expectation as wait is your presence for your will to be revealed. I do so love you Holy Father. I am longing for the day when Christ will come and take His bride to Himself. Fulfill your plan and your will in us so that we can be used to complete our individual tasks and hear You say at last….. well done.

17 08 2008
Beppo

Let me add something here before someone gets hurt unintentionally. What I said in my post is in general — that is, it’s not directed at any one person, nor at any of my (known) readers. For all I know, all my readers involved in this are free from the issue. But I still wanted to discuss it, because we all have to deal with such things from time to time, and this topic has been near to my heart lately.

One of the dangers of having comments is that one person can say something that may seem to be in response to a previous comment but it was intended to be in response to the original post. I don’t know if that was the case with Fab or not — I don’t know his heart — but in taking what he said at face value (which is a good way to start), he started out saying “someone” and “we”. So just by reading his words, it doesn’t appear to be in response to a previous comment.

So to everyone, please be careful to not take something personally if it wasn’t directed to you personally / intentionally. My point in discussing this situation in vague and abstract terms is to get beyond the personal side so we can look at what the Bible tells us.

18 08 2008
Kri'

Amen, bro… amen.

In a situation such as the “vague” one you describe occur, there are lots of places to point the finger – at the one who committed the offense, at the one who discovered the offense, at the one who magnified and gossiped of the offense, of the one(s) who perceived or realistically covered up the offense, etc, etc.

The point is – we are all guilty to some degree as we certainly all do fall short of the glory of God. And 9 times out of 10, a church is knocked off it’s course of serving God and the community when a situation like this occurs. Is the enemy happy about that? You bet.

But will the enemy prevail? As long as the Church will pick itself back up, humble themselves, and pray, the enemy will never win the war – only battles. The choice is up to God’s people.

19 08 2008
Beppo

I added a clarification on this post, but I wanted to put it here, too, for the returning readers who have already read the post and are now checking for new comments. I felt this was necessary, because some of what I said has been misinterpreted, and so I should’ve been more careful with how I worded things.

[Edit: Let me clarify something that might need it: Just because someone left the church during this mess, it doesn’t mean they were part of the problem nor that they are harboring unforgiveness or bitterness. There are people who tried to do the right thing yet got hurt. Also, I am not angry at anybody, nor am I blaming anyone for all that has happened. Honestly, I don’t know who did what, nor do I care. What’s done is done. I’m concerned with moving on from here, to grow closer to God and to reach our community. I also want to see healing and reconciliation within the Body of Christ. That doesn’t mean we all have to go to the same local church, but we do have to work through any issues we may have. Again, I don’t know who is hurt and/or offended and/or bitter, if anyone still is. But I wrote this post as a reminder to us all, that we must be very careful to not harbor any unforgiveness. I still think the message (in general) applies, because Jesus warned us that offenses will come, and all of us can be tempted with blaming people and holding grudges and not forgiving them fully. Thus we must be careful and examine our heart.

If anything I said in this post has offended you, please know that it was not intentional, and it is not directed at anybody in particular. I did not have any person nor any group in mind when I wrote all this. I’m just hurt and confused, wondering why things had to work out the way they did. And now I’m ready to move on to what God has planned for us.]

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