Continuing his series on offence, Pastor Phyl used the analogy of old vinyl records, which would get stuck if they were damaged, and repeat themselves over and over again. Our lives and minds are sometimes like that. We can get stuck on repeat, where words go round and round in our heads until we are likely to believe them.
The old saying of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is one of the biggest lies we tell our children. The truth is that, while bones heal, and are soon forgotten about, words linger in our minds, doing far more damage to our souls than any stick or stone could do to our body. Thinking back to some of the cartoons, where the character had a devil and angel on his shoulder, Pastor Phyl told us that these are not real things, but representations of the voice in our own heads. In reality, we are in control of these voices, and we write the story of our lives, if we choose to.
In scripture, it is said that we are “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. If we are “in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”. Effectively, with God in control, we have all we need to be able to challenge heart and soul thinking. We have the power to not get stuck on repeat like the records.
Pastor Phyl went on to say once more that the Bible is real about emotions. Sometimes life sucks, and sometimes, as Phyl told us in his series last year, “It’s Ok Not To Be Ok”. Jesus suffered terribly at the hands of the very people He came to save. He was mocked, beaten, and scorned, and yet, even in the midst of all this suffering, He was able to see the real truth and God’s purpose in all of this. He was able to take control of the words some believed as truth and not allow them to go round and round in His head, getting stuck on repeat. He was focused on God, and God’s purpose for Him.
Our culture gets offended so easily these days. Pastor Phyl asked us to imagine how sad it must be to live in a place like this, when offence can so easily be taken. In Mark 11:11, Jesus was walking, and He was hungry, when He saw a fig tree, but on approaching it, He found only leaves but no fruit. In His hunger, He cursed the fig tree, and when He and the disciples were walking a few days later, this fig tree had withered from the roots up.
We can wither like the fig tree. When we let thoughts and words that are lies, live in our hearts and minds, we wither from the root up. We can kill our lives and become unfruitful all too easily if we are not focused on the right things.
Pastor Phyl tells us that we must take the word of God and the scriptures as they are. We cannot take or leave parts that we may not like. There is no place in a walk with God for a tippex Bible. We cannot call ourselves followers of Jesus if we have one of these.
The truth is that if we stand for Christ, we can expect persecution. There is a cost to following Jesus, but if we stand firm, we will win life.
When people we love betray us, it hurts. Pastor Phyl asks us to go on a journey with him this week. If we ‘google’ forgiveness, we see a number of different definitions, but there is one that defines the act of forgiveness as something that brings the giver peace of mind and actually frees that person.
Mark 11:25 says: 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” This simple act of letting go of past hurts, offences and wrongdoings, is actually more for us than it is for others. The truth is that if you allow it to, it will transform your life. It is something we must do for us. There are even times when we might need to forgive God. We don’t know all things, as He does. We must stop trying to be God.
In scripture, it says that “perfect love casts out fear”; God is perfect love. He will take care of things, if we only let Him. Pastor Phyl encourages us to leave ‘it’, whatever that may be, with God and to guard our hearts. We must be careful not to give the enemy a foothold, or any space in our hearts.
Continuing, Pastor Phyl spoke of five steps to forgiveness that he wished to share with us:
- Who and what do we need to forgive? Who is it? What did they do?
The truth is that others’ words have no power over us, unless we give it. By working out who and what exactly caused the offence, we are able to work out how to begin the process of forgiveness.
- What was the emotion that the behaviour stirred up? What was the behaviour? How did it make you feel?
If we can understand the emotions this behaviour caused, then we can begin to understand why it caused us offence.
- Understand that forgiveness is good for you and needed for you.
Forgiveness is something that we can deny, but we have freedom in Christ. Our sins caused God so much offence that nothing other than the sacrifice of Christ could redeem us to Him, and yet, He chose to forgive us. He didn’t have to, but He is a God of love, and a God of love cannot live with unforgiveness in His heart. Whatever the offence that was caused to us, we can choose to keep playing that record, or we can choose to throw it away and simply let it go, rather than using denial and repression. Can we move through it?
- Decide what course of action to take.
We must address the problem. Here we must think out all the steps that we could take, so that we can make an informed decision on which course of action is best. There are some cases, where the option of speaking to the person is not possible, but forgiveness truly lives within the heart of every believer, and we can choose to give it or to withhold it.
- Take action.
Here we must act. We can talk to someone for advice if needed, but we must be careful to ensure that the advice we take is from someone Godly, who will speak the truth even if it isn’t always what we want to hear. The truth is that if we want Godly solutions, we must seek Godly advice. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to “speak the truth in love”.
To truly forgive, means to let go of resentment. We are called not to deny and repress, but to forgive. He has a plan for our future. We are called to make true love the anthem of our hearts.
Scriptures: Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Mark 11:11, Mark 11:25, 1 John 4:18, Ephesians 4:15