Friendship and Forgiveness

By John Chacko, Cleveland Prayer Group

Don't use foul language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing.

Don't cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live. Remember, he is the on who marks you to be present on that day when salvation from sin will complete.

Stop being mean, bad tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in our lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.

Ephesians 4:29-32

The Tarnished Cup

After hours of searching through dusty cartons in the basement, a man found the box that contained the baby cup that had been his grandmother's. He removed the yellowed newspaper. The cup was ugly and tarnished. In frustration, he stuffed the cup back into the carton.

That night he was unable to sleep. It finally occurred to him that he was uneasy because of his neglect and lack of concern that had allowed the cup to deteriorate. He ran downstairs to retrieve it.

Finding some silver polish, he gently cleaned the cup until the beautiful silver was again revealed. With work and love, the cup was restored.

Often our relationships with family and friends become tarnished and deteriorate under layers of hurt feelings, anger, and misunderstanding. When we put work and love into our relationships, they can be restored. Then we rediscover the beauty that lies underneath the tarnish and realize that it has been there all the time.

In our relationships or friendship we need to make sure that we don’t hurt other’s feelings.

Let me illustrate this by a story.

The Nails and the Fence
There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us. Show your friends how much you care.

If somebody hurt you with a verbal wound, we should learn to forgive him or her and forget about the incident.

Forgiveness.

A pastor was counseling with a man who was going through emotional problems with a lady he thinks he loves. He held a lot of hard feelings against this lady for things that she had done to him in the past, and being human one can understand his hardness. As a Christian one can see very clearly that if he would come to Jesus and learn to forgive her, his anguish and hurt would pass and he would be a much happier man and that would in turn lead to a happier relationship.

Colossians 3:13 says, "You must make allowance for each others faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."

The way he taught us about forgiveness was simple; God is going to forgive us in the same way that we forgive others.  If our way of forgiving someone was to take a baseball bat and beat him or her, then we should be prepared for God to take out His baseball bat and forgive us in the same way. In the same manner, if our way of forgiving someone is to forgive him or her as our Lord Jesus Christ would forgive, then God will forgive us with the same love.

Forgiveness is a truly healing act. Have you ever noticed that when you are living life with some type of anger against someone that hurt you in some way, you are always wound up and the thought of what they did just burns inside you. Yet after you have got over what was done to you and you have forgiven that individual, you are more relaxed and at ease. Forgiveness of that person let you heal emotionally and life became far more pleasant.

 Then Peter came to Him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" "No!" Jesus replied, "Seventy times seven!"

Matthew 18:21-22

 Don't keep score of the number of times that you have forgiven a person. Just let the love of Jesus continue inside you and keep forgiving that person.

We have all sinned and none of us are worthy of God's forgiveness, yet He continues to love us and to forgive us.

And in Psalms 86:5 David sings, "O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask your aid."

 Now if God can forgive us for all of the wrongs that we have done, who are we that we won't forgive those who we feel have wronged us?

The power of forgiveness is immeasurable. Jesus put to us very plainly when He said,

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

That may seem like an easy thing to do, but anyone who has struggled with pain and anger knows that it takes enormous power to really forgive - to put aside one's hurt and reach out to an offender with the embrace of forgiveness. On the other side, forgiveness can release the wrongdoer from paralyzing guilt and even turn around the course of that person's life.

Forgiveness is as powerful as the healing of a paralytic. And it's a power that Jesus has delegated to His followers. Is the power of forgiveness in you?

How do you get the power of forgiveness in you. That is only possible by embracing our Lord Jesus Christ. Allow him to come into our hearts completely. This reminds me of a story.

JESUS IN THE HOUSE

Once there was this very wealthy young man. He lived in a great, elaborate house with dozens of rooms. Each room was more comfortable and more beautiful than the one before it. there were paintings and sculptures. Crystal chandeliers, golden ornate railings on the stairs. More beauty than most have ever seen.

One day he decided to invite the Lord to come home and stay with him. When the Lord arrived, this young man offered him the very best room in the house. The room was upstairs and at the end of the hall. "This room is yours, Jesus! Stay as long as you like and you can do whatever you want to in this room, remember Jesus, it is all yours."

That evening after he had retired for the night there was a loud knocking at the front door. The young man pulled on his robe and made his way downstairs. When he opened the door he found that the devil had sent three of his demons to attack the man. He quickly tried to close the door but one of the demons kept sticking his foot in. Sometime later, after a great struggle, he managed to slam the door shut and returned to his room totally exhausted." Can you believe that", "he man thought. "Jesus is upstairs in my very best room sleeping while I am down here battling demons. Oh, well, maybe he just didn't hear". He slept fitfully that night.

The next day thing went along as normal and, being tired as he was, the young man retired early that evening. Along about midnight, there came such a terrible ruckus at the front door that the young man was sure that whatever it was would tear the door down. He stumbled down the stairs once again and opened the door to find that were dozens of demons now trying to get into his beautiful home.

For more than three hours he fought and struggled against the demons from hell and finally overtook them enough to shut the door against their attack. All energy seemed to fail him. He really didn't understand this at all. "Why won't the Lord come to my rescue? Why does he allow me to fight all by myself? I feel so alone". Troubled, he found his way to the sofa and fell into a restless sleep.

The next morning he decided to inquire of the Lord about the happenings of the last two evenings. Quietly he made his way to the elegant bedroom where he had left Jesus.

"Jesus," he called as he tapped at the door. "Lord, I don't understand what is happening. For the last two nights I have had to fight the demons away from my door while you laid up here sleeping. Don't you care about me? Did I not give you the very best room in the house?" He could see the tears building in Jesus' eyes but continued on, "I just don't understand, I really thought that once I invited you in to live with me that you would take care of me and I gave you the best room in my house and everything. What more can I do?" "My precious child," Jesus spoke so softly. "I do love and care for you. I protect all that you have released into my care. But when you invited me to come here and stay, you brought me to this lovely room and you shut the door to the rest of your house. I am Lord of this room but I am not Master of this house. I have protected this room and no demon may enter here."

"Oh, Lord, please forgive me. Take all of my house-it is yours. I am so sorry that I never offered you all to begin with. I want you to have control of everything." With this he flung open the bedroom door and knelt at Jesus' feet. "Please forgive me Lord for being so selfish."

Jesus smiled and told him that He had already forgiven him and that He would take care of things from now on. That night as the young man prepared
for bed he thought, "I wonder if those demons will return, I am so tired of fighting them each and every night." But he knew that Jesus said that he would take care of things from now on.

Along about midnight the banging on the door was frightening. The young man slipped out of his room in time to see Jesus going down the stairs. He watched in awe as Jesus swung open the door, no need to be afraid. Satan stood at the door this time demanding to be let in. "What do you want, Satan?" the Lord asked. The devil bowed low in the presence of the Lord, "So sorry, I seem to have gotten the wrong address." And with that, he and the demons all ran away.

There is a moral to this tale. Jesus wants all of you, not just a part. He will take all that you give Him but nothing more. How much of your heart have you given to the Lord? Are you keeping a portion of it away from Him?

Perhaps the attacks are coming more and more each day. Why not let the Lord fight the battles for you? He is always victorious. I have found that God made man simple, all of man's complexities are of his own devising.

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them work, family, health, friends and spirit - and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life."

 Let me conclude with a parable about life:

 A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule.

The mule fell into the farmer's well. The farmer heard the mule 'braying' - or whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened...and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back...a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back...HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This he did, blow after blow.

"Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought "panic" and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!

You're right! It wasn't long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

THAT'S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity...THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US! Remember that FORGIVENESS--FAITH--PRAYER--PRAISE and HOPE...all are excellent ways to "SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP" out of the wells in which we fall into.

PRAYER: Creator God, clean us up. Rub the tarnish from our lives and reveal the beauty that you have created. Help us not to make wound in others like the holes in the fence either through our words or action. Teach us to forgive others like you to taught Peter, not seven times but seventy times seven and that we should not keep score. Lord we ask you to come into our heart. We submit ourselves fully so that you can fight the battle for you. Lord help us in our daily life to shake it off and step up with forgiveness, faith, prayer, praise and hope. We ask this in the name of your son Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Acknowledgements: I wish to acknowledge the help I have obtained from several Christian Websites for preparing this talk.

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