Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There are issues that need to be confronted. But there are some issues that just need to be overlooked. Let it go. Don’t make a federal case out of it. The problem is: We have a tendency to confront the sins we should overlook and to overlook the sins we should be confronting. We just lose perspective.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, November 6.

Yesterday we learned how dangerous bitterness can be. The remedy, of course, is forgiving. Recently, Nancy’s friend, Kim Wagner, talked about the power of forgiveness. Here’s Nancy with more.

Nancy: You know, we’ve talked about the enormous damage that bitterness can do and how it can just take over and poison and contaminate the environment around us. Conversely, forgiveness has huge power to positively affect our environment and to bring about sweet and gracious results in people’s lives.

Kim, I remember a story you told me years ago where you saw the incredible power of forgiveness.

Kim Wagner: My husband was preaching a revival in a small country church in South Arkansas in the middle of a pine thicket. It didn’t look like there were any houses near there, a little bitty church. On Sunday morning there were maybe 30 people there. It was a typical little Southern Baptist church service.

Preacher: “All right. I want you to complete this statement. ‘Eat everything on your plate. After all, think of . . .’”

Kim: My husband preached on Matthew 18 on the unforgiving servant. He talked about how offense can place you in a prison of bitterness and you will be tormented by your bitterness.

A little lady, an elderly member of that church, came down to the front and in brokenness and weeping confessed before that church body that she had been sinning against God for years because she had held onto unforgiveness toward a very well-known man in that community.

He was a wealthy rancher, and she had blamed him for her mother’s death. There were some questions over her mother’s death, and she blamed him as the reason she had died.

She asked the church family to pray for her to go and ask his forgiveness for how she had treated him, because he was a lost man and he knew that she was a Christian. So she asked the church to pray for her as she went the next day to ask his forgiveness.

Unbeknownst to her, while she was asking that man’s forgiveness, her husband, who was known as the town drunk, was on the side of the road selling watermelons out of the back of his pickup in order to get money for more liquor. He was sitting there selling watermelons when my husband and the pastor of the church stopped by to have a little visit with him.

As they came walking up, before they could even hardly start talking to him, he got down on his knees and was crying out to God for forgiveness, asking God to save him. And he had no idea what his wife was doing.

He went home for lunch to tell her what had happened. As she is coming in the door to tell him where she has been and confessing her bitterness toward the man that she had had resentment toward for years, she can hear him just shouting out, crying, praising God before she even walks in the door of the house.

By that evening, word of the fact that this woman had gone to the rancher and asked his forgiveness, and her husband, the town drunk, had surrendered his life to Christ had spread. By that night there were about 100 people there in the revival service.

The spirit of forgiveness began to spread throughout that community. By the next night, the rancher had come. There were about 150 or 200 people there.

The little church building was totally filled up. The doors were opened; the vestibule was filled with people. People were standing. They didn’t have enough chairs for people. The rancher surrendered his life to Christ that night.

There was a family in the church who, because of an adultery situation, had separated. That husband and wife came together, mended their lives, and their son in that revival got right with God. He now is a missionary our church supports in Russia.

There were over 1,500 people throughout that week that came to hear the messages being preached in that little bitty church. They extended the revival for two weeks. The pastor wanted to go on further, but we had already missed a week of classes of school. We were in Bible college.

We ended that revival after a two-week period of time with literally . . . I don’t even remember how many people made decisions, how many people accepted Christ as their Savior. Lives changed. People still talk about that revival today, and that’s been almost 25 years ago.

And revival started from one woman surrendering her bitterness—what she had held onto for years that she believed she was justified in, having anger and unforgiveness toward this man, a lost man—and going to him and asking his forgiveness. When that spirit of forgiveness was released . . . It is so true: You are never more like Christ than when you forgive.

As lost people saw forgiveness at work and saw the life of Christ at work in that community, God was able to move in and work in just a miraculous way.

Song (Steve Green):

And for all the sin in me, any sin at all,
Forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me.


Leslie: Isn’t it amazing how one woman’s obedience in forgiving affected a whole town? What an encouraging story from Kim Wagner.

Forgiveness truly is powerful. But did you know that sometimes it’s appropriate to confront someone who’s hurt us, while other times it’s right to just overlook the fault? We’ll discuss that today and discover that, either way, we need to offer complete forgiveness.

Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with more.

Nancy: The subject of forgiveness is one that we come back to again and again on Revive Our Hearts because, well, we need it again and again. But as I was thinking about this particular series, it occurred to me that often when we talk about bitterness, resentment, or forgiveness, we think in terms of major, life-altering issues that are extremely difficult to forgive.

I’m thinking about some friends of mine who recently have been through some traumatic, major issues—a mate committing adultery, a husband being murdered, embezzlement, abuse, deep betrayal—these major issues that obviously are areas where we need to deal with bitterness and forgiveness.

But it occurs to me that it doesn’t take a huge issue of that nature to wreck relationships. In fact, it’s not usually those huge issues that are what end up destroying us. They can, but more often I think that relationships are broken or destroyed or at least harmed by relatively minor, everyday hurts and offenses that we allow to fester rather than dealing with them God’s way.

For example, someone doesn’t speak to you at church. Big deal. But isn’t it amazing how we can make it a big deal?

No one comes to visit you in the hospital or calls to see how you’re doing. Your mother-in-law says something that hurts your feelings. All kinds of insensitivities, injustices . . . and we can live life with a chip on the shoulder, constantly taking offense over issues that, in the big scheme of things, are really not all that significant.

You see, the danger is that we have expectations in relationships. We think we deserve more. We are worthy of more. People ought to treat us more nicely, especially within our homes, our family relationships. And when those expectations are unfulfilled, what happens?

Anger. Resentment. Sometimes it starts as just smoldering hurt. But those embers get stirred up and ultimately became a flame of bitterness and anger.

That kind of smoldering hurt over everyday issues is deadly in a marriage. Your husband forgets your anniversary. He doesn’t notice something special that you did for him.

The fact is: Most of the time people don’t even realize that they’ve hurt us. We’re sitting there thinking, “He meant to hurt me. He sat up all night and planned how he could hurt me.” Chances are he didn’t. Chances are he didn’t even know he hurt you, and that there was no intent; which is why we need to learn to assume positively on people, to assume the best of others.

But regardless of their intent—maybe they did intend it—the question is, “Am I going to make a federal case out of this?” Are you going to make a federal case out of it, potentially wreck your marriage, or are you going to let it go?

Learn to live with it. Learn to make allowances for people who aren’t perfect. It’s a sinful world. We’re flawed human beings, and we live with flawed human beings.

A friend of mine said to me recently, “My husband is a mess. There are piles everywhere.” This woman isn’t like that. (Isn’t it amazing how opposites often attract?) But she said, “It used to drive me crazy, until finally I determined I was not willing to lose our relationship over his messy piles.”

You see, she stepped back, and she got new perspective, and she said, “This is not worth losing my marriage over my messy husband and my trying to change him or correct him or fix him or make him something that he’s not.”

Now, I’m not encouraging husbands to be messy—or wives, for that matter. I’m just saying, if you’re going to have good and healthy relationships, you have to learn to overlook some things.

There’s a word I want to talk about today that I think applies here, and it’s the word forbearance. It’s kind of an old-fashioned word, but it’s used in the New Testament.

Forbearance. It’s a word that means "tolerance, restraint, patience when you’ve been provoked." It speaks of being longsuffering, of enduring hardship. Forbearance is a characteristic, an evidence of genuine love.

You’ll see that connection all through the Scripture. For example, listen to these verses:

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV). Love and forbearance.

Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Love and forbearance.

Proverbs 17:9, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” Don’t go telling your friends what your husband did. You’re separating close friends. Who are the close friends? You and your husband. Have the kind of love that can overlook a fault, that can cover sins.

First Corinthians 13, “Love is not provoked. It does not take into account a wrong suffered” (verse 5, NASB). Or, as the NIV says there, “It keeps no record of wrongs. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Now, some issues need to be confronted, and there are plenty of biblical passages about that. For example, Galatians 6:1, “When your brother is overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual restore that person” (paraphrased).

There are things that need to go through the process of church discipline. There are issues that need to be confronted.

But there are some issues that just need to be overlooked. Let it go. Don’t make a federal case out of it. The problem is: We have a tendency to confront the sins we should overlook and to overlook the sins we should be confronting. We just lose perspective.

Let me point us to an example in the Scripture of this whole issue of forbearance. It’s the story of David as he was being forced to flee from Jerusalem because his son Absalom had revolted against his father.

As David is fleeing from Jerusalem, there is a man named Shimei who comes out and publicly humiliates David and those who are with him.

Let me ask you to turn to 2 Samuel 16, where we’ll see an account of what happened here.

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!” [Now, he’s talking to the king!]

The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood” (verses 5-8).

It’s an ugly, vicious, unwarranted, unjust attack. Shimei is wrong. But David and those with him had two very different responses to this attack.

Abishai is one of the followers with David, one of his men who’s helping him, one of his assistants. And we see in verse 9 that Abishai wanted immediate justice on this Shimei: Repay him!

“Abishai said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head’” (verse 9).

Now, we may not say it that way, but isn’t that the way we instinctively respond when others wrong us? “I’ll get even. I’ll deal with him.” And we tend to do it when people offend those we love. We pick up the offense. “Let me go take off his head.” We do that by criticizing. We do it by speaking negatively about that person. We do it by the cold treatment.

Listen, women can do it by withholding sexual relations from their husbands. They’re trying to get back, to get even, to repay. They’ve been hurt. They’ve been wounded. Something was said, so they pull back, and they say, “See if I give you what you want.” Justice—repay him. Take off his head.

What is David’s response? Forbearance. David says, in essence, “Don’t take matters into your own hands. Let God deal with him.”

“The king said, ‘If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, "Curse David," who then shall say, "Why have you done so?"’” (verse 10).

David trusts the sovereignty of God in his life. He says,“Behold my own son seeks my life; how much more now shall this Benjaminite!” (verse 11).

In other words, keep it in perspective. It could be worse. His own son is revolting against him. So he says, “What’s the big deal if this man from Benjamin revolts against me? I’ve got worse things happening in my life.” Don’t lose perspective.

He says, “Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today” (verses 11-12).

Now, we’d like to say that we’ll be forbearing, and all of a sudden all the Shimei’s in our life will go away. But the story doesn’t always end that way. In fact, in this case, David’s forbearance didn’t stop the problem. It actually got worse.

“So David and his men went on the road while Shimei was on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust” (verse 13).

It may get worse. Forbearance and forgiveness don’t mean that your offender will all of a sudden turn into this great godly character in your life. They may not. But David trusted God to control the extent and the duration of this opposition.

“And the king, and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan” (verse 14).

They were exhausted. They were run out. And I suppose there were lots of reasons for that. One was just their whole reason for having to leave Jerusalem, what David’s son had done to them. But I think this vicious ongoing attack from Shimei took its toll. They arrived weary at the Jordan.

Sometimes opposition does just wear us out. We get letters from women who are living in homes and circumstances where day in and day out they’re having to put up with pettiness, with a critical spirit, with people pulling them down and trying to wear them out. There are people like that in this world, and there are people like that in our lives; and sometimes we get weary from it.

But I love that last phrase in verse 14. I don’t think I ever noticed it before this study. “And there David refreshed himself.” He arrived weary at the Jordan, and there he refreshed himself.

Let me tell you, ladies, God will always provide a way and a means for you to be refreshed, even in the midst of your struggle. God will lead you to a Jordan. You may be weary when you get there, but God will provide a way for you to find refreshing, even if the whole world has turned against you.

A few chapters later—we won’t turn there now, but in 2 Samuel 18, after David overcame Absalom’s rebellion, Shimei came back and begged David for mercy. Of course, he knew now the king was back. The king could take his head off. Abishai once again said, “Put him to death. He cursed the Lord’s anointed.”

But what did David do? Once again he was forbearing. He extended mercy. He forgave this man who had sinned against him. He said, “I’m going to let it go. I’m not going to make an issue out of this. I’m not going to let it be an issue. I’m not going to let it destroy my life.”

I’m not going to let it eat my lunch, to put it in modern terms. I’m not going to let this person give me heartburn. I’m going to let it go.

I’ll tell you what: If you don’t learn to forbear, if you don’t learn to let it go, you will live with heartburn. You’ll live with that constant churning inside. Your husband, your children, your parents, your in-laws, your neighbor, your boss, your co-workers—there will always be people who are annoying and irritating and provoking. True love forbears, overlooks, lets it go.

You see, David, having committed adultery with Bathsheba some time earlier, knew how much God had forgiven him. That’s why he could forgive. Let it go. As the Scripture says, “Put all bitterness away from you. Instead, forgive one another as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). 

Who’s the person you need to forbear? Who’s the offender that you need to make allowances for? Just let it go. What’s the offense? What’s the thing that has caused you to be churning inside? It may be something that you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill.

If you’d get honest, if you could get it into perspective, you’d say, “Those piles of my husband’s—they’re not worth losing this marriage over.” But you’ve made it such an issue that you may lose your marriage over it.

Where do you need to forbear? Where do you need to make allowances? Ask the Lord to give you the kind of love that covers over a multitude of offenses.

Thank You, Lord, for being so incredibly forbearing with us, again and again and again and again. You forgive; You are merciful. You don’t judge us as our sins deserve. Oh, Lord, help us to reflect Your merciful heart in our homes, in our churches, in relationships; especially these little everyday issues, to let them go, to be forbearing, forgiving as You for Christ’s sake have forgiven us. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining where you can find the power to forgive. We’re focusing on forgiveness this week as part of a longer series called Seeking Him.

Nancy provided some solid advice today about when you should overlook an offense and when you should confront the offender. It’s the type of wise counsel that fills the pages of her book Choosing Forgiveness. No matter what, forgiveness is possible. Learn why it will benefit you to release your offender and how to go about the process in the book Choosing Forgiveness.

We’ll send you a copy when you donate to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Call toll free 800-569-5959, or donate at our website.

While you’re there, take a look at the new 2008 wall calendar. The theme this year is “Prayers from the Heart.” Each month you’ll read a new prayer from Nancy, and you’ll also find a Bible passage and artwork to encourage you. Find out more at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 800-569-5959.

Do you want to develop deep, meaningful friendships? Then learn to forgive. Nancy will pick up that topic tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

If you’ve read Nancy’s book Lies Women Believe, you’ll be happy to know the follow-up is coming. Watch for Lies Young Women Believe coming next spring.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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