The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath
ought 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. “ – Matthew 5:23-24
“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. ” – Matthew 6:14-15
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
– Luke 23:39-43
As we begin to learn what it is to be forgiven, God grants us the grace, and in that grace comes strength, to forgive those who do wrong toward us.
As we take a long look at the scriptures that God has given in this area, one simple, yet profound, truth comes to mind: When I forgive those people in my past who have wronged me, I don’t necessarily do it for them (forgiveness does not erase the damage done nor the penalty for their wrong-doing), although it might make them feel better, I do it for me and there are basically 2 reasons that I do this, and they are as follows:
1. TO MOVE ON
When there is unforgiveness in the heart of a man (or a woman), and that unforgiveness remains, it gives the “offender”, for lack of a better term, some sort of control over them. It gives the one who has hurt them the opportunity to occupy room in their mind. Therefore it gives the devil, the person behind this whole thing, the home field advantage, in which to come back into their life. If I were to allow this in my life, it would eventually destroy me. It would be one place in me and in my life where Jesus is not Lord and that cannot happen! When we do not allow Jesus to be Lord of everything, we do not allow Him to be Lord of anything. We are, then, spiritually lukewarm and we cease to grow in our relationship with the Lord (Rev. 3:15). No matter how good we behave or what our outward appearance may be, if we have unforgiveness in our heart at all, it is a roadblock in our walk with God.
2. TO BE FORGIVEN
If we are not willing to forgive others when they wrong us, God will not forgive us when we sin against Him (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:35). I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son. After he has decided to come back, what was his brother’s reaction? He was jealous and unforgiving. The father saw this and rebuked him. He probably did not feel any different than we do at times toward that person who wronged us or abused us. Notice that the father told him “Your brother was dead (not erasing the deed(s) or the penalties of them) but is alive again.
As I write this, I tremble and my eyes fill with water. This subject is very close to my heart. God has really blessed me with a lot of grace, not only to forgive my abuser(s) or those who have wronged me, but healed my heart in such a way that I can write this and really understand the topic at hand, not with my mind, but with my heart. I have experienced the grace that is sorely needed to forgive. It is not an easy row to hoe, but once you have done it, and only then, can you experience true freedom. Forgiveness does not erase the deed, but rather frees you from the control that the hurt has over you.
As you study this, my prayer is simply this: Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to forgive and let God grant you not only the grace to forgive those who have sinned against you, but also give you the freedom that only He can give! I pray that as you allow this to happen, that you feel as free as I do and also the intimacy that I now experience in my relationship with God is greater and deeper than it ever has been and I praise God for that!
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JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month