Pastor and Counsellor, Helen McGhie, focussed her talk on the Grace to Forgive. The greater the sin committed against us, the greater the grace God has already made available to us. Many people have mentioned in passing about grace and forgiveness in their talks to the women of Dove Wellington, but this particular talk stirred up many to repent and forgive.
The only way we can deal with sin is through grace, and this is why God gives us grace to treat the sin that is hurting us. However, the enemy tells us that such grace is no good unless the offender repents and asks for forgiveness. He wants us to believe that grace is activated through the repentance of the one that offended us – it is a lie! A lack of repentance on the part of those who have violated us is not an obstacle that stops grace from being extended. When someone offends us God automatically gives us the grace to deal with it. God forgives on the vertical dimension. But only the injured party can forgive a personal offence on the horizontal level.
Before Jesus’s death on the cross it was a symbol of cursing (Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree – Gal.3.13) and it only changed from a curse to a blessing when Jesus wrapped grace around it and cried out “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. He turned the curse of the cross into the blessing we know today. Grace did it.
Helen then asked the Holy Spirit to speak to all of us right then, and let Him assure us that the greater the sin committed against us, the greater the grace God has already made available to us. We can turn those curses into blessing – just as Jesus did. (Peace reigned as the Holy Spirit spoke to us.)
Somehow the devil wants us to believe that grace is soft like jelly and passive. But grace is tough and it’s strong. Applying grace to underserving sins is not an act of weakness but of great spiritual courage.
Grace was Jesus’ weapon of choice while He hung naked, abandoned by His disciples, forsaken by His Father and surrounded by demons. He looked weak and vulnerable, without anything to fight back with except grace. He reached for it and in a moment He turned everything around. Satan was disarmed and paraded in defeat (see Col. 2:14-16). The Father was able to open a way for sinners to become free from Satan’s dungeons. In one second the sins of the entire world were atoned for – all of that because Jesus chose grace rather than judgment.
Intellectually we may understand how Jesus did it, but we feel we cannot respond in the same manner because we are just human beings – so was Stephen in Acts 7 – he was a human being just like us. He preached to a mostly unreceptive crowd that grew angrier by the minute until they turned into a mob and stoned him. He saw angry faces – and Saul was there too – but beyond the raging crowd Stephen saw the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Not seated interceding, but standing in a posture of judgment. What did Stephen do in such a context of sin and judgment? Seeing so much sin, he asked the Father for extraordinary grace. He cried out “Lord do not hold this sin against them”. Two chapters later Saul of Tarsus, the destroyer, became Paul, the builder of the church. As Paul lay on the side of the road to Damascus there was no need for anyone to lead him to Christ. Stephen deserves the credit and it all began when he applied grace to the sin Paul had committed against him. Saul did not ask for grace but it was extended to him anyway with extraordinary results. It is indeed powerful.
This same grace is available to us today. People have stoned us with mean words and abusive actions that make us feel like Stephen and we feel the pain. We may say, “Stephen was a servant of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and doing God’s work, but I am just a struggling Christian”… but freedom is only found by applying grace rather than receiving it. Will we allow those hurts that constantly replay in our minds day after day, month after month – or will we allow the grace of God to release us, to be free. Learning to forgive is the essence of reconciliation since we cannot give what we do not have. We need to experience grace at the deepest level and then be eager to pass it onto others in our circles of relationships.
When I make a choice
- To no longer hold the past against you
- To release you from my judgment
- To let go my right for revenge
- To set you free
Jesus made a choice to no longer hold the past against us, to release us from His judgment, to let go of revenge, to set us free. Whatever is possible for Jesus is possible for us.
We then, along with Helen, prayed the following prayer:
Father God, I thank you for the grace that Jesus bestowed on me when he died. I also thank you that such grace was intended not just for me but for everybody else. It forgave my sins as well as their sins. Please allow that grace to touch every person who has touched me with evil intent and everyone who has sinned against me. Let it be known in heaven and on earth that as of this moment they are forgiven by the same grace that I was forgiven by.
Father I also pray that you bless them. I ask you to restore and to prosper them. I pray for them every blessing I have ever prayed for myself. I set them free, and in so doing I set myself free by the same grace, In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – Amen.
Another powerful meeting thanks to another greatly gifted speaker.