Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leaving Self Behind, Part 4

Leslie Basham: Bitterness can keep us in bondage but with forgiveness comes independence. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It is Independence Day, July 4.

We hope you are having a great Fourth of July celebration. As we think about independence today, we are going to learn about the freedom that comes through the act of forgiveness. To introduce today's topic, here is Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Often we find it difficult to forgive others because they have wounded us so deeply. And that's why whenever I hear an illustration or life message of someone who has forgiven in remarkable circumstances, it's always very challenging to my heart.

Elisabeth Elliot is one of those people who understands how costly forgiveness can be. She found herself called upon by God to forgive the very people who had murdered her husband and four other young men as they were serving the Lord as missionaries in Ecuador in the 1950's.

Forgiveness has been a key theme in the life of Elisabeth Elliot and in her fruitful ministry for over forty years. She is a writer, she is a speaker and for many years she was the host of the daily radio program, Gateway to Joy. We are joining Elisabeth this week as she speaks to a group of women on the subject of forgiveness.


Elisabeth Elliot

And she said, "I just sent up an S.O.S. to the Lord. I said, 'Lord, I cannot shake hands with that man.'" But she said, "By the time he got to me, my hand shot out and in that split second, God gave me grace to say 'I forgive you.'" And, of course, she found out that he was a brother in Christ. He was coming to ask her for forgiveness.

How long does it take? You're going to say, "Well, I am not going to say it until I can mean the words," which very often just means "until I feel good about it." Now, let's remember, ladies--and this is one thing that is very important for women to remember--we are very much likely to major in the emotional side of things rather than the will. And God has given to all of us, will and emotion. Which one rules your life?

All of this has something to do with what it means to have a gentle and quiet spirit, to be Christlike, to exhibit the Christ-life in our homes. If your children don't see it there, if your husband doesn't see it there, we are in trouble. So in Colossians 3:13, we're told that we have to bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Now that part is hard enough. How about the last half? "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13. "Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

I am to lay down my desire for vindication. I would like to be vindicated. I would like it to be known that I was right, but God does not give me that privilege. I am to lay down my desire for vindication. I am to lay down my right to an apology. Now, that is a tough one. You may have a "right" to an apology, because the person really did wrong you.

But how about just getting rid of the burden, getting rid of having asked yourself, When is that woman going to realize what she did to me? Chances are, she's not going to realize it; she is not interested in realizing it and she's forgotten all about it, perhaps. So why lug through life all of that terrible burden of vindictiveness and bitterness?

Now, I am sure all of us knows somebody who is just like a tiger in a corner. We had one in our church. She was a woman that lashed out like a tiger with everybody that came near her. We were all scared to death of her. Nobody wanted to get near that poor woman. I mean, she was so angry, and nobody seemed to be able to figure out what it was. But there was no question she was filled with un-dealt-with bitterness.

Lay down your desire for vindication. Lay down your right to an apology. Lay down the pleasure that you might get from that person's humiliation. And let's be honest with ourselves, it would be very pleasant if the person who wronged us was humiliated by it. Lay down your will, in other words. "Bring every thought" (it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5) "under obedience to Christ." Every thought is to be brought under obedience.

Romano Guardini said, "Forgiveness is renouncing the right to administer justice to oneself." Put that down in your book, will you? "Renouncing the right to administer justice to oneself. Relinquishment of the wish to see punishment meted out to others." It is great (soothing, isn't it?) to see punishment meted out to somebody else who has "done you in."


And now let me give you just four points which we will show you how to forgive. And these are very quickly.

1. Receive the grace. You won't be able to forgive unless you receive the grace. Matthew 18:21-35. I love what Corrie ten Boom says, "When God casts our sins into the depths of the sea, he puts up a sign and says 'No Fishing.'"

2. Acknowledge the wrong. Be straightforward with God. Acknowledge the fact that this person has wronged you. This is the important step. If you don't acknowledge the wrong, you don't have anything to forgive.

3. Lay down all your rights. "Lose your life for my sake," Jesus says. Forgiveness is the unconditionally laying down of the self. That is all underneath number three. Now lay down all the rights.

4. What to do to and for the one who has wronged you. What shall I do? Okay, I will give you a, b, c, & d under this number four.

a. If he asks forgiveness, forgive him. You don't have to write that down. That is so simple. If he asks forgiveness, of course you say yes. "As we forgive those who trespass against us."

b. If he doesn't, you go ahead and forgive him, in a private transaction before God.

c. Pray for him. Opposition will be melted as you pray for him.

d. And this is probably the toughest thing of all--ask for grace to treat that person as if nothing had ever happened.

And when I had a very, very painful situation with a family member, God reminded me that what I needed to do was to stand with Christ for her, instead of with His adversary against her. Ask for grace to treat her or him as if nothing had ever happened. And forgive that person, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.

"What peace, oh, what peace we often forfeit,
oh, what needless pain we bear,
all because weand we can put in here
have not forgiven somebody.

It says in the hymn

all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

I trust that there will be some today, who will be relieved of that crushing burden. Go to the foot of the cross. It's amazing how things look so much simpler, and so much quieter, when we go to the foot of the cross.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That is Elisabeth Elliot reminding us that forgiveness always takes us to the foot of the cross. And as we celebrate this Independence Day, our nation's Independence Day, I want to just say that for you, as you're listening to this program, today could be your independence day!

I look into the eyes of women, day after day, who have been wounded and scarred and disappointed and hurt by so many offenses but who are living in bondage rather than freedom because they have never come to the point of choosing to forgive. I would say regardless of what's been done to you, regardless of how deeply you have been hurt, you will never walk in freedom until you get to the foot of the cross. And there: choose with Christ to forgive those who had sinned against you, even as God has forgiven you for your offenses against him.

Leslie Basham: Thanks, Nancy. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray with us. But first, let me remind you that she has spoken in depth on the subject of forgiveness here on the radio program, Revive Our Hearts. If you missed that series, we hope you will order a copy. It is available for a suggested donation of $8, on our Web site, 

meeting to my dismay I saw this man coming down the aisle with his hand outstretched."


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