I cannot write this often enough: I have learned many important things from Joyce Meyer's television ministry. Many people in this country need to learn not to live by their feelings, but to live by the Truth, as revealed in God's Word. We do not do anything simply because we "feel" like it, although I would submit that we do not have to force ourselves to do anything, either.
She has preached often about the importance of forgiveness, that letting go of the wrongdoing perpetrated by others is a must. However, the reason and the authority for doing so which she asserts run contrary to the power and persuasion offered in Scripture, and can in fact engender more bondage in the life of a believer who wants to live at peace with all men.
In one recent broadcast, Meyer asserted that we must forgive, for we must not allow any one person one more minute of space in our lives. Our resentments toward a person whom we perceive has harmed us do hurt us more than that person, but like many believers, I found that the more that I tried to convince myself that I must forgive someone, the harder it became to forgive. In fact, I got even angrier because I found myself ruminating about that person even more, and the hurt and recrimination that I was trying to break free of was actually gaining a stronger hold over my mind!
Now, some may differ with these verses, citing the following scriptures from Jesus' earthly ministry:
"But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive
your trespasses." (Matthew 6: 15)
After relating the parable of the unmerciful steward, Jesus commented:
"And his lord was
wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due
"So likewise shall
my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every
one his brother their trespasses." (Matthew 18: 34-35)
Jesus made these statements before His death, before He had fulfilled the Law in His flesh by dying for our sins and dying as us, that we may be united with our Father in heaven through the Holy Spirit.
Paul's epistles provide the best way for us to break free of unforgiveness:
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 32)
And to make sure that no missed this important truth, Paul also wrote to the Colossians:
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3: 13)
We forgive because we have been so greatly, so lavishly, so superabundantly forgiven. We break free of the cycle of trying to forgive others by resting the Finished Work of our Lord and Savior, who has paid the price not just for our sin, but also for the wrongdoing which we have suffered at the hands of others.
We do not forgive out of concern that we will waste precious time and energy, although certainly we thwart our efforts to walk in faith to the extent that we do not take God at His Word and let His Life flow through us. We forgive because we have been forgiven, just as we love because He first loved us (1 John 4: 19)
We must stop trying to live holy lives in our own efforts. As He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4: 17). Peter provides the blessed pattern of our Lord and Savior for us in the face of great persecution:
"Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened
not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" (1 Peter 2:23)
and even Jesus comforted His followers:
they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of
"Blessed are ye, when
men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner
of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
"Rejoice, and be
exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted
they the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5: 10-12)
We must not look for revenge against those who have harmed us, but rather rejoice in the rewards that we receive, starting with the unconditional, undeserved, and unending gift of pardon for all of our sins, past, present, and future. In the wake of so great a redemption, there is no reason for us to hold a grudge, but rather rejoice exceedingly, for the mercy of our Lord and Savior endures forever.