When you listen to many of the current teachings regarding Kingdom Finances on Christian television these days it seems that the vast majority of the lessons center on how much, and how often, a person gives in the offerings. Of course giving is very important and Jesus taught much on the subject. One of my favorite verses in the bible is:
Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
But in my many years of ministry and watching believer's lives, I find certain patterns emerge. Some people seem to be much more blessed than others, even though the dollar amount they give is less than others. And I am not talking exclusively about being materially blessed, but blessed in all areas of their lives. After all, it doesn't matter if you have millions of dollars in the bank if you are sick, depressed, and friendless all the time. What I have discovered is based on this teaching by Jesus (which you seldom hear mentioned by the mega-church preachers):
Mat 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Why would Jesus say not to give your gift to God if your brother is in resentment against you? Because gifts offered while a person is still in strife and unforgiveness are simply not received by our Father God. The forgiveness extended toward man through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the very heart of the gospel. There is no such thing as a Christian who has not already freely received that forgiveness. To receive God's forgiveness and then not extend that forgiveness towards others is an abomination in the sight of God. If a Christian chooses to remain in unforgiveness and strife, not only will it affect his material blessing, but it will also hinder his prayers from being answered. In nearly every teaching that Jesus taught concerning prayer, He included a teaching about forgiveness at the same time. For example, when He taught about prayer in Mark's gospel He said at the conclusion:
Mark 11:25-26 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (26) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Why include that portion about forgiving every one their trespasses unless choosing not to forgive would make a person's prayers non-effective? I remember in the earliest days of my walk with the Lord He began dealing with me about these very passages. There were some people who (in my mind) had done me great harm. I was born again but I have to tell you … I still carried a lot of unforgiveness toward them in my heart. As I would read passages like this in my bible I would hear that still, small voice within me saying, "You know you are going to have to forgive them." Nothing in me wanted to and I refused for awhile. But that same gentle voice would return and say, "It is your choice, but you are not going to go very far with Me unless you choose to forgive them." Well, I wanted to go on with God. But when I searched my heart I could not find a hint of anything in me that even wanted to forgive them. Then the Lord whispered to me, "Are you willing to be made willing to forgive them?" I had to think about that for a while, but my logic determined, "Well, Lord, I suppose if you could make me willing … then I would be willing … so my answer is … Yes, please make me willing to forgive them." He gave me the most simple instruction which was: Every time I thought of them, just ask the Father to bless them. I really didn't want to do it, but I did it by sheer obedience based on this passage:
Luke 6:27-28 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, (28) Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
So it began, every time I would think of them I would pray, "Father, bless them, in the name of Jesus." And in the beginning I would add … "and you know I don't mean it." I didn't want to be a hypocrite. He knew I was just doing it out of raw obedience anyway. But still, I prayed for the Father to bless them just like He told me to. An amazing transformation began to take place. Over the days and weeks as I continued to do that, my heart began to change. I dropped that phrase (you know I don't mean it) pretty quickly and my heart began to desire genuine blessings upon them. Then, gradually, the Holy Spirit began opening my eyes to my part in the trespass that had occurred long ago. I wasn't nearly so innocent as my memory had been declaring. Fast forwarding several months … God's love so worked through my heart and my soul that I began praying in earnest for them and today … we are close friends again. Every vestige of unforgiveness and strife has been consumed by the Father's love for us all. I learned well from that experience and have applied the lessons from it to many similar situations over the years. Not always has every relationship been fully restored, but at least I know that I have done my part to forgive and to be reconciled to everyone.
Rom 12:17-18 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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