God is a consuming Fire – Day 5 of 31 – Reflection on Who God Is

 For our God is a consuming fire ~ Hebrews 12:29 NKJV

God is a consuming fire! Wow, what does that mean? So far we have seen that God is Light, God Is, God is Love, and God is Holy. All these are qualities we like to associate with God. Now we see something a bit scary.

I have never escaped from a home fire, but I have seen some wildfires when I was quite younger back in Nigeria. They are quite scary. There is nothing cute about a wild consuming fire,

So when I think of God as a consuming fire, I think that God consumes anything that is evil. Whatever is contrary to God and is in God’s path of progress will be consumed.

God is a consuming fire! Evil does not reduce God! When God encounters evil, He consumes it and It becomes a tool in God’s plan of progress. Wildfire grows stronger by consuming thing in its path.

Anyone that goes against God can only help the plans of God. You can’t resist God. Any attempt to resist God will only turn you into fuel that promotes the purpose of God.

God is a consuming fire! If God, therefore, is for us, there is no need to be afraid.

God is a consuming fire! I can no longer be afraid of any enemy! God will consume all the plans of my enemy the devil.

As I meditate more on God as a consuming fire! I am more aware of why the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

As long as you are going along with God, you are safe! If you stand in the way of GOD, you become fuel. I have free will but thank God with the free will comes common sense. It is wise to fear God.

Prayer

Dear God! I stand in awe of your power! I recognize that I am nothing compared to your greatness. I am eternally grateful that you chose to love me and relate with me.

Help me, Lord, never to take your love for granted. May I never become antagonistic to your plans. I have no fear for the enemy when I think of your greatness.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us your name! No wonder demons tremble at the mention of your name! God almighty, I honor you with all my life! Do with me and through me all that you desire.

I pray in Jesus Name.

What comes to mind when you think of God as a Consuming Fire! Please leave a comment below.

Sacrificial Giving – It can change your life!

What is sacrificial giving?

Giving is taking what you have and handing it over to another person or organization. When you give, you relinquish control of the property that you give out. Not all giving is sacrificial. You could give out what you don’t need anymore or things that are causing you some inconvenience. In this case, you are giving because it helps you declutter your home. This kind of giving is good but it is not sacrificial giving and as such it is not the focus of this article.

Sacrificial giving is the type of giving that involves a decision to let go of something that you could be using for the benefit of others. It is so called because you are choosing to forfeit the benefit of having the gift so that another person or organization can have that gift.

In my post on tithing, I covered that fact that everything we have belongs to God and that Sacrificial giving - photogiving the first 10% as tithes to God is our way of showing gratitude to God. Tithing is sacrificial giving. You could always use 100% of your income. Choosing to let go of 10% is sacrificial. There are other types of sacrificial giving that I would like to highlight in this post. Every type of sacrificial giving is a principle for increasing your capacity to give.

Types of Sacrificial Giving

  • Tithes (already discussed in Christian Financial Management)
  • Giving at church above your tithes
  • Alms (poor, widows, orphans etc)
  • First Fruit offering
  • Donations for special projects
  • Donations towards a cause
  • Giving to parents
  • Giving to Spiritual leaders

Please take note that all sacrificial offerings are to be taken from the 70% of your income left after you have taken out 10% for Tithes, 10% for savings and 10% for personal development except in very extraordinary situations that we may consider at a later time.

Giving at church above your tithes

Any money or gift you give at church above your tithes is referred to as an offering. A free will offering is like a seed sown. It comes back to you in multiple folds. Take a look at the following scriptures to help in understanding this.

Deuteronomy 16:16-17 (ESV)

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.

From the above scripture you can conclude that it is a good idea to bring an offering every time you attend a church service. The offerings helps to keep such meeting going. There are lots of bills that need to be paid to keep the church door open. If any church (body of believers) want to continue to enjoy the comfort of their building and all the services available to the members then I encourage you to bring an offering every time you go for a meeting.

Always have a desire to give!

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV)

If you do not have so much to give, then simply enjoy the worship service and believe that God will provide for you next time. The essence of this scripture is not to put the people under a bondage or under pressure. It is to teach us to show our gratitude to God and support the upkeep of the “house” of God. Since you do not have something to bring, you can come with thankful heart and give yourself afresh to GOD. Never miss a meeting simply because you don’t have cash on you.

In the scripture above you may have noticed that number of times the people appeared before God was 3 times a year. This is not all the time each individual appeared before God. It is the number of time ALL the males appeared before God. Whenever you use the church building, equipment, children facility etc, make it a principle to give. It moves the work of the kingdom forward and opens you up to receive. The motive for giving is to bless the work of God. The blessing is simply a result of God’s law of sowing and reaping.

Giving Sacrificially to the less privileged – Alms

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. ~ Hebrew 13:16 (NKJV)

42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. ~ Matthew 5:42 (NKJV)

28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need ~ Ephesians 4:28

God is love! Love always gives. If we say we love someone, then we would also want what’s best for them. If it is in our power to make life a little easier and move them along on their path to being a blessing, we must do it.

I believe that most people have what it takes to bring value to the market place and get paid for it. However from time to time, we all need a boost. Giving to the poor or needy is simply giving them a boost. My prayer is that no one should stay poor and needy. Maybe the best thing to give to the poor and needy is hope, support and a way to earn a living.

How giving sacrificially to the poor will change your life

When you give to the poor, the joy that you bring to their lives, has a way of motivating you to do more. It also helps to create more joy and hope on the earth. The person you helped may get out of the problem they were in and they will help another person.

I encourage you to always look out for an opportunity to help. No matter how little your resources are, there is someone who has even less.

Giving Sacrificially – First Fruit Offerings

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
    and your vats will overflow with good wine. ~ Proverbs 3:9-10

When the children of Israel, got into the promised land, they were instructed by God to take some of the first fruits of their harvest to the Priest as a show of gratitude to God. As a result, believers are encouraged to take the best part of whatever they produce to the “house of God” for thanksgiving.

Christian are under no obligation in the new testament to bring in a first-fruit offering. However, I find that the blessing attached to bringing the first part of your products to God is eternal in nature.

Whenever I start a new business, I take a portion of the first sale and give it as first fruit offering. The first fruit offering is different from the tithe. For you to tithe, there must be a profit. You give a tithe of the profit. The first fruit is simply taking a portion of the first sale and using it for thanksgiving.

If you are earning salaries, then taking a portion of your first salary (above your tithes) to honor the Lord for the job is excellent. Some people offer their entire first pay. This is equally good as long as it is not done out of fear or pressure. All sacrificial giving must be done willingly and cheerfully.

How honouring God with your wealth will change your life

There is a promise attached to honouring God with your wealth! MORE WEALTH! When you remember that everything you have and are belongs to God, then it becomes clear that if you honour the Lord with everything you have, including your wealth, God will make it possible for you to have more. I believe that favour is attached to honouring God. Whenever you honour God by declaring to everyone around you that God is your source, God in turn honours you by making it possible for you to do more.

Giving Sacrificially towards church projects and worthy causes!

Special projects at church or special causes that we may encounter are opportunities to honour God with our wealth. For example when there is a building project at church or a group of people need help to overcome a challenge. It is always a blessing to be part of such projects. Like every type of sacrificial giving, it will cost you but it will also bring joy to you.

Giving Sacrificially to Parent and Spiritual leaders

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. ~ Galatians 6:6 NLT

The Bible encourages every believer to learn how to give good gifts to their spiritual leaders. Anyone who takes the time to teach you spiritually is being used by God to bless you. It is important to take the time to appreciate what God is doing in you through that person by sharing what you have with them.

Parents make lots of sacrifices for us. It is a good habit to plan to send them a gift or two from time to time. Nothing is too small to give to your parents.  You can also give them your time by helping them run errands. Whatever you can do to bless them is good.

My experience of sacrificial giving

As I conclude this post, I would like to share my person experience about sacrificial giving as well as unexplainable receiving.

In the first few years of full time ministry, we had very little income and lots of bills. The money that came in was much less than the money that we needed to spend. We had to trust God to provide the balance from time to time.

I remember praying one day to God and asking why things were so difficult. I said something like, why would someone not send us money regularly to meet our needs? Why am I not getting a steady flow of income?

God at that point dropped a thought in my life that totally changed our finances. “How many people are you giving to regularly?” That is what God dropped in my heart. Immediately I saw that when I am not giving regularly, I have stopped the flow of giving and receiving.

As a result of this insight, I realized that giving to others was a blessing to them and to me as well. I could actually plan to give. Look for opportunities to give and trust God to receive from Him. So we started to sow regularly into a pastor’s life. I gave more consciously, realizing that whenever I get that nudge to give, it will be the answer to someone’s prayers.

It’s been many years now and I can testify that we have received way more than we have given. Not only are we satisfied and overwhelmed with the reaction from those that we have been opportuned to give to, we have actually received so much more that we can ever imagine.

 What next? Oh Lord! Please Enlarge my capacity to give.

Take a look at your budget. See how much you can give. Ask God to show you where there is a need. Then gladly meet that need. As you give to meet that need, ask God to enlarge your capacity to give!

When your capacity to give is enlarged, it means you have more resources in your hand to manage. God never asks us to give what we don’t have. You give from the abundance that God has given you. You give because you are able to. You give because you are glad that you are not the one in need of the help you are rendering. You give because you know that the resources in your care was designed by God to meet those needs.

How to give with a tight budget

When your budget is tight and your income can hardly meet your needs, you should still give. First you give your tithe 10%. You can adjust your savings to 5% and personal development to 5%. Then you ask God to show you someone that you can give to.

When you find someone in need, give to them. You may need to skip a meal, you may need to keep using that old shoe for an extra month. You may even need to give the Lardlord a little less than you planned to as part of the payment. Whatever it takes, make sure that you give something to someone above your tithes.

How do you know who to give to and when?

When it comes to sacrificial giving, you must let the Holy spirit lead you. I suggest that you plan on following the scriptures as presented above. Prepare to give offerings when you attend meetings. Look for opportunities to help someone who does not have as much as you. Give to your leaders. Support godly projects. In every situation, let the Holy Spirit guide you.

 
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Christian Financial Management – How to have more money!

I really do not believe that there should be Christian Financial Management. Money is the e83db40a2ce91c72d252440dee4a5b97e771e7d51fb0144092_640_wealthsame for a Christian and a non-Christian. The principles for wealth creation will work for anyone regardless of their belief system. The need to talk about Christian Financial Management comes from the fact that there are some grey areas in wealth acquisition that a christian will not approve of. There are also time tested Biblical principles that have been secularized which must be highlighted and “redeemed”. In this article and the next one, I hope to highlight principles which any follower of Jesus can practice to become excellent managers of the money that comes their way.

God is the source of all things and it all belongs to God

There is a principle I call the 10-10-10-70 Principle or the 70-10-10-10 principle which I use to simplify Christian Financial Management. This is a very ancient principle, all I have done is to name it and interpret it in the light of our current experience. Before I describe and explain this principle, it is important to be reminded that God is the source of all things and it all belongs to GOD.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein. ~ Psalm 24:1

universe photoThink about it! God is the owner of the universe. The sun provides all the energy we need on earth. Take out the sun and we will all freeze and its all over. God created humans (you and I) and placed us here to enjoy the abundance that He created. The first and most important principle for excellent Financial Management is that you came with nothing and you will leave with nothing. None of these things belong to you. You are simply managing them. You have access to as much as you need. You can use as much as you have capacity to manage. When your time is up, EVERYTHING that you have will be handed over to other people and you will have no control over what they do with it. You may have some influence on how it is initially shared, but really you cannot do anything if the people choose to go against your wishes.

Remember! Nothing on the earth is yours forever! You can manage as much as you have capacity for, but as you leave, you must leave everything behind. Think about it as living in a hotel. You can use everything in that room for as long as you are there. Once your time is up, you leave the room, return the keys and walk away.

Our stay on earth is also like a hotel. You can use everything in it and when you are done, you leave it all behind including your body. This to me is a powerful reminder that everything belongs to GOD.

Once you realize that God is the source of wealth and the owner of wealth, then you can also agree that there is no scarcity in God. There is enough wealth for all the current tenants on earth to enjoy. If there is anything that you need and is not yet discovered or designed, God has already giving us the power to discover, design or create whatever we need.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[a] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26-28

Know it! Meditate on it! Believe it! Everything you need to excel on earth is available in abundance. There is absolutely no scarcity in God. Any form of lack is not a as a result of scarcity of resources on earth. It is the result of mismanagement of the available resources or a misunderstanding of the abundance that is available in God.

I don’t know how much money you have at your disposal, I would like you to know that you can always have more or less depending on your call and your desire to be a blessing to others. If you determine to manage what you have properly, follow biblical principles, you will have more! You will be fruitful and multiply. I believe that God want’s all his children to be fruitful and multiply. Scarcity and lack is not part of God’s plan for us.

The 10-10-10-70 Principle for Christian Financial Management!

What is this Principle?

  • The first 10% of your income “belongs to God” – Tithes
  • The second 10% is savings
  • The third 10% is for personal development
  • The last 70% is what you have to spend

There are many variations of this principle in different financial management books. This exact structure was impressed upon my heart several years ago and I have been trying to follow it and I know that it has been a great blessing. In this first article, I will only consider the first 10% which “belongs to God.”

10% of your Income should always go to God – Tithe

What is a tithe? Simply put, it means 10% or tenth. Abraham was the first to give a tenth of his spoil to a priest to show gratitude to God.

19 And he blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor[a] of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. ~ Genesis 14:19-20

What Abram did here was in response to the mercy of God over his life. I believe that giving 10% of what belongs to God back to God is just a way to say:

“Thank you God! I know you own it all, you even own me. I give this back to you in gratitude”.

This shows that tithing was already in place before it came into the levitical laws

30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’” 34 These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai. ~ Lev 27:30-34

The tithe (10%) belongs to the Lord! The whole (100%) belongs to the Lord! Bringing the tithe to the house of the Lord is simply an acknowledgment of the fact that everything including your very life belongs to the Lord.

Tithing is an honour!

It should never be a burden. It should be exciting every time you have income, to offer first 10% as a joyful act of gratitude to God. I believe that anyone who learns to offer this 10% joyfully to God, has broken out of the scarcity mindset and entered into an abundance mindset. Our GOD is a God of abundance! 10% is just a benchmark! We should be giving more when we have more at our disposal. That is why in the new testament, tithing is not an issue. A heart that is filled with the spirit of God is always willing to give all! Tithing should never be an issue for a regenerated believer in Christ Jesus.

Tithing should be a joy! Not a burden.

If you find it hard to give at least 10% of all your income regularly, it is not because tithing is difficult, it is because you believe you don’t have enough or your heart loves your possessions more than God! There is an idol somewhere. In my experience as a pastor over the years, I have noticed that as people really fall in love with God, tithing is the least of their problems. They are happy to give much more than 10% even with very little teaching on tithes.

Tithing is a Principle for Christian Financial Management

Master it and money will no longer be an idol in your life. Master tithing and you will be the one in control of how the remaining 90% is spent. Tithing is God’s remedy for living from pay check to pay check. Take hold of your financial future today by determining that the first 10% of your income is not yours to keep. It belongs to God. It is your thanksgiving for the life you have, the skill you have and the grace you have that makes it possible to earn a living.

How do you give money to God who you cannot see?

In the Bible times, tithes were given to the Levites because they were devoted to the service of the temple. They had no portion in the land, all they had was their service to the Lord.

21 “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. – Numbers 18:21

The Levites also had to pay a tenth of the tithes they received to the Lord.

26 “Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. ~ Numbers 18:26

The tithes of the Levites were given to the priest. The tithes made it easy for the whole nation of Israel to enjoy a very rich worship experience. The Levites and the Priests, took care of the tabernacle and then the temple when it was built. In turn the tithes from the other tribes was given to them by God.

In the new testament, because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, every believer is a priest unto the Lord.

you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,“Behold, I lay in Zion. A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; ~ 1Peter 2:5-9.

If we are all priests, then all we need to do is channel our tithes to make it easier for us to build the Kingdom of God. Our tithes should be given to any church where we are receiving our spiritual nourishment to ensure that the great work that is being done continues. It is from these tithes that the employees of the church will be paid. It is from the tithes that the Pastor of the church is paid. We all as priests before our God, give our tithes to move the Kingdom of God forward.

Tithing helps you to become conscious of what church family you commit to.

It is interesting to note that when believers pay their tithes to a particular church, it is because they believe that God has approved that church. I do not think that anyone will give 10% of their income to an organization that they think is ungodly.

I pray that believers all over the world will recognize that the money in their possession belongs to God and as such, they must manage it wisely.

In conclusion, please remember that all the money you have belongs to the Lord. The first 10% is never for you to spend. It is for the Lord. For the work of ministry. Release it to the church family where you are being fed spiritually or where you are serving. Rejoice that you have something to give. Determine by the grace of God to always have more tithes every year for the rest of your life. Delight in bringing more and more to the Lord for the work of ministry. This is the first step to having more money and managing your finances properly.

In my posts over the next 3 weeks, I will be considering the 90% of the income that is left after the tithe has been paid to God. If you want to read study more about tithes, here is a good place to start.

Find below a copy of the slides I used for this message a few years ago.

How often should I Forgive?

We have been talking about family at church this week and I know that within any family unit this question would likely come up. How often should I forgive my spouse, my brother, my sister, my mother in-law, and the list goes on. If you are asking this question, you would not be the first person and you would not be the last. We ask this question because we want a relationship to move forward but the other person keeps doing something to mess things up!

How often should I forgive my Brother? – Matt 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[d] and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’[e] 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Apostle Peter was the first person recorded in the Bible to have articulated this question. I believe the reason he asked the question was because Jesus had been teaching the to forgive others and repay people with love even when the did not treat them properly. In this message I would like to highlight a few points:

The question is not “why should I forgive my brother?”

The Apostles had been taught to forgive, they were still in the process of learning and just as a last effort to hold on to the former way of doing things which is “an eye for an eye”, Peter asked the question. How often should I forgive my brother?  He actually made it clear that it was his brother that sinned against him. How many times will someone offend you and you let it go? When do you draw the line between error and intentional sabotage of the relationship?

These are questions that we ask. They are other forms of the same question that Peter asked our Lord Jesus so many years ago. How often should I forgive my brother?

When I take a deeper look at that question, I feel that Peter could have been saying, it’s alright to teach about forgiving those who sin against us. I even agree that we should forgive a person if they are truly repentant. However what should I do with a person who keeps on doing something to offend me?

Should I forgive him seven times?

When a person asks a question about frequency and he suggests an answer, they would usually exaggerate the number. I believe that Peter assumed that seven times was a very good Family in a water fightamount of time for a good follower of Jesus to forgive his brother who sins against him! How often should I forgive my brother? Seven Times?

Is seven times enough? Or is it too much? Peter wanted to know. He wanted to confirm that what his master Jesus was teaching is practicable. Can you expect a human being to forgive indefinitely? Is it realistic to expect a person to forgive as many times as the offence comes? Before we consider the response to this question let’s look at another question.

What does it mean to forgive?

Do you realize that to forgive actually has different meanings to different people? I think the best way to deal with this is to highlight what forgiving others is not.

  1. To forgive does not mean you condone what the other person has done
  2. To forgive does not mean you approve of the other person’s behaviour
  3. To forgive does not mean that you cannot remember what happened or how you were offended
  4. To forgive does not mean that you continue to expose yourself to the possibility of being hurt again.

So now what does it mean to forgive?

  • To forgive is to refrain from taking matters into your hands and inflicting the same or greater amount of pain on the one who hurt you.
  • To forgive is to let go of the pain and the hurt that you have felt and choosing not to allow it to define your life
  • To forgive is to continue to desire the best for the one who has hurt you and being willing to be part of the solution to their failure if the opportunity presents itself and you are healthy enough emotionally to handle it.
  • To forgive is to be willing to give the person a second chance once they are able to prove with reasonable certainty that they have changed.

I took a look at wikipedia and here is how forgiveness is defined – Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

Now the question is “How often should I forgive” – How often should I choose not to retaliate or how often should I choose not to pay back the other in their own coin?

How does Jesus Answer the Question?

Jesus answered the question with a story! I love stories. I am glad that Jesus used a story because the story helps us to capture the answered in a more rounded manner. Jesus wanted the apostles to know that there is no need to count how many times your brother offends you. You are meant to forgive them as many times as possible. I actually believe that what Jesus wants us to know is that we should have no need to worry about how many times we have to forgive. Jesus gives us a key to forgiving other in the parable. Here are some points to not from the parable:

We are constantly being forgiven much more!

Oh what a joy it is to realize that God does not count how many times he has forgiven us. Jesus uses the servant who owes the master ten thousand talents to draw our attention to the truth that we are constantly in need of forgiveness ourselves.  In my personal experience I have made it a habit to meditate on how much God has forgiven me as often as possible. I thanks God for his mercies daily and as often as I remember.

If you know that you have been forgiven so much. If you know that you could never pay back what you owe. If you know that what you deserve is eternal damnation and what you get is mercy that comes as such a great price! You find that not only does joy flood your heart, you find it much easier to let other people go.

You are not the ultimate Judge

Take a look at how the story ends. The servant that was initially forgiven lost his freedom. What does that teach us? No matter how good we look now, it is all a gift from GOD. You are not the one hurting others not because you are so good, but because of God’s mercy. If you were in the shoes of the person who hurt you, we don’t know if you would be worse!

When you forgive someone, you are making your self free

Imagine you get home one day from work and you find a person trying to remove one of your outside lighting. So you trip him and sit on him and you say to him “You are going no where”! My question to you is this. How long can you keep him there? The the answer to that question is “As long as you are willing to stay there yourself”. What will be the best thing to do in a situation like this? You call the police and hand him over to the police. Handing him over to the law, free you. That is how forgiving someone frees you.

When we let someone go, we decide not to be the one to pay them back or to exact justice. We leave it to God and trust that God who is the ultimate Judge will always do the right thing. If the man who was forgiven his 10,000 talent debt had realized that he could easily forgive the debt of the servant who owed him, he would have be a free man. Our refusal to forgive leads us to bondage

Let’s bring it home. How often should I forgive my spouse?

Someone may say it depends! No it does not depend on anything. It is always a blessing to forgive others especially our spouses. It is important to note that, the closer a person is to us, the easier it is for them to hurt us and the more such hurts affect us.

For example if a girl or guy that you meet today refuses to pick your call for 3 days or even 3 weeks you will not be as offended as if your spouse refuses to pick your calls. If a co-worker does not attend your special event, you would not be as offended as if your spouse chooses to go golfing on the day of your special event.

Why is this so?

It is because as we get closer to someone, we tend to expect more form them. We no longer see all the things they do for us as special. They have been doing it for so long, we begin to think that we are entitled to these things. For example as a man, I am ever so grateful that my wife Olu takes the time to cook almost everyday for us in the family. She thinks about the food and works hard to make it ready for us to eat. Over the years I could get so used to her cooking that if she does not cook for some reason, I could get upset. Instead of reaching out to her to find out how she is and speak to her in love, I could complain. This could then lead to a conflict that evolves into a more negative situation.

What could a person in such position do? You think about all the times your spouse has cooked, you appreciate it and then ask her why she did not cook? Ask if all is well. She could say, I am tired of cooking. I need help. Then we have an opportunity to show our love in a practical way.

What are some things we need to forgive our spouses for?

  • Lack of respect for our time
  • Use of inappropriate words
  • Failure to keeping to their words
  • Cheating or infidelity
  • Carelessness with family stuff
  • Waste of family resources (funds)
  • Betrayal
  • distractions of all kinds
  • immorality of various degrees
  • dishonesty
  • indiscretion of varying degree!

The list is endless. You may discover that your spouse is particularly weak in one or more of these areas. All you need to remember is that you have your own weaknesses too. Just like the story of Jesus! If God forgives you your sins, then it should not be difficult to forgive others.

Why then do I find it so difficult to forgive?

There are many reasons why it can be hard to forgive! The main one highlighted by Jesus in the passage above is failure to recognize that we are not perfect as well. We have been forgiven much more by God, we are still being forgiven regularly by God and we still offend our own spouses too.

So how many times do I forgive a cheating spouse?

As many times as they cheat is the correct answer. Does that mean we need to stay in such a relationship? That depends on a lot of factors, which include the willingness of the spouse to get help, what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do, whether children are involved and so on.

Please remember that forgiving someone is simply choosing to let them go. Handing them over to God with a desire that they are transformed for the better and doing what we need to do to help them and keep healthy ourselves.

If your spouse continues to cheat on you, then you need to do something to make him stop and to help him develop a better walk with God. If your spouse is careless with money, then your call is to help him or her to be more careful while taking steps to prevent a destruction of the family finance. Taking such measures does not mean that you have not forgiven your spouse. It simply means you are taking action to help them and keep yourself heathy for the good of others.

How do I know that I have forgiven my spouse or Father or Children?

I have 2 tests that I conduct in my heart to determine if I have truly forgiven someone or I am just running away from dealing with an issue. Then I check a final step to see that I am willing to walk in love.

  1. I check to see if I desire the best for the one who has offended me. For example if Olu says something that I don’t like or appreciate, I will talk to her about it. Once she tells me what her thought process was, I realize that she was not out to hurt me. I already know that Olu will never intentionally hurt me anyway but I still want to know her thought process and I also want her to know mine. Once this is done, I check if I am happy with her. The truth is this, I am always wanting the very best for my best friend Olu. There is nothing that she does that would change this. I find that I have forgiven her a long time before we even sit to talk about it. It was not always like this. However as I have grown in my walk with God. I have come to realize that, love is a better way. When you truly love someone, you love them regardless of how they act. The cool part is that this love, usually transforms them and yourself as you allow it to flow in your life.
  2. I check to see if I still want them to feel the pain that I feel or felt. These days, I find that I hardly want anyone to feel any pain that I feel. I am always hoping that the Holy Spirit will reveal to the people around me how much he loves them. I thank God for his mercy because I do not feel like inflicting pain on any of my family members no matter what they do.
  3. I check if I am willing to be a part of the solution. Am I willing to be misunderstood so that this does not happen again? Am I will to be firm if need be?

Once I can say yes to these 3 questions, I know I have forgiven the one who sinned against me and I am walking in love.

So How many times should I forgive?

No need to count. Forgive as many times as possible. Jesus said, not just 7 times, but seventy times seven times. Stop counting. Rather be glad that you have the opportunity and privilege to forgive and to receive forgiveness always. If you don’t know how to forgive, could it be that you have not really learnt how to receive forgiveness from God? Could it be that you really do not appreciate how lost you were? How much you have been forgiven? How many times the blood of Jesus cleanses you daily? Could it then mean that if you choose not to ever forgive someone that you are not saved and you are still in your sins? I encourage you to reflect on God’s love again today and release anyone that you are yet to forgive.

Here are some practical steps to help you forgive

  1. Acknowledge that someone has sinned against you. Do not try to pretend that you have not been hurt. Confess how you felt when you were hurt. If your dad abused you or your cousin betrayed you. Say something like this. Oh Lord, I know that my dad abused me when I was too vulnerable to defend myself. I felt very powerless then, but now I forgive him.
  2. Do not ask God to help you to forgive. Simply let go by saying I forgive him. Visualize yourself being released by God from hell and say something like this. The same way you forgave me of my sin and you continue to forgive me, I also forgive……. (the name of the person.
  3. Pray that God will have mercy on the person, that their lives will be transformed. That they would not sin against another person in the future.
  4. Confess that you have held them in your heart for the length of time you have done. Receive the forgiveness that God offers and ask him to heal your heart.
  5. Finally reach out to your pastor or small group leader or any person you know fears God and is willing to serve you. Share your story with them and ask them to pray along with you. This step will bring you healing and strength to move on.

I hope this message has blessed you. I pray that from now on, you will always forgive so that you can receive healing and be free to move forward in your life.

Do you want to read more about Forgiveness?

Read Joyce Meyers book titled “Do Yourself a Favor…Forgive: Learn How to Take Control of Your Life Through Forgiveness”.

Your turn

Do you have any tips on how to forgive or do you have additional thoughts about the question – How often should I forgive? Leave your comments below. I would really love to read from you!