Once my wife and
I were having a rather animated discussion, and she turned to me and said, "You
know, I think it is pretty impressive that I forgave you for some of the
dastardly things you have done."
I know what you probably want me to talk about. You probably want me to tell you
about those dastardly things that I've done, but I am not going to do that
tonight. We are not talking about sins; we are talking about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is Hard
As I thought about my wife's comment, I realized that she had come up in the
middle of a heated exchange with a rather profound theological insight.
Sometimes when you say a word like forgiveness, we think it is nice and sweet,
like spraying perfume, but forgiveness isn't like that. It's hard; it's tough.
It is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. As I thought about it, I
realized that even when you forgive someone it is easy to still hurt, to still
feel the sting. In a real sense, forgiveness just ain't fair.
Sigmund Freud said, "One must forgive one's enemies, but not before they have
been hanged." That's natural. That's fair. That's how many of us feel. It is
kind of a law of nature. It is what works on the National Football League
playing field. It is what works in nature. You don't have cats turning around
and saying to dogs who are chasing them up a tree, "I forgive you." You don't
have dolphins saying to the shark, "We forgive you for eating our playmates." It
is a dog-eat-dog world out there, not a dog-forgive-dog world.
If that is the world of nature, and if that is kind of instinctive to us, why is
it that our faith and our Bible and God ask us to make forgiveness at the core
of what we believe? I've thought about this.
Many of us pray every day, as I did this morning in church, the Lord's
Prayer..."Forgive us as we forgive others." It's at the core of our religion,
and yet it is not fair. It hurts. It is not easy to do. Why would God want us to
do something that is so unlike what our instinct is, that is so unfair? I came
up with three reasons that I want to share with you today.
Forgiveness Breaks the Cycles
The first reason is that forgiveness is the only way to break the cycle. You are
right. It is not fair. If you want a fair religion, I would suggest that you
become a Hindu, because the Hindus have a very clear way of taking care of
everything. It is called incarnation. If you have done many things wrong, the
Hindu scholars tell us, it may take as many as 6,800,000 incarnations for those
things to all work themselves out. You have to realize the punishment in this
life is for something you did in a former life.
I have noticed that sometimes marriage is a little bit like Hinduism in that
respect. A husband says to a wife, "Why didn't you remind me that it was my
The wife says, "Wait a minute. It is your mother. Why am I supposed to remind
The husband says, "Yes, but you are in charge of the calendar."
They go back and forth, back and forth, tit for tat about 6,800,000 times until
finally somebody says, "Stop. This can't go on. We have got to break the cycle.
I am sorry. Forgive me. I know it's not fair. I know I may be wrong. Forgive me.
If we don't do that, you get a situation like we are seeing right now on a
national scale in Yugoslavia. If you read the words that are coming out of
Yugoslavia, one group says, "We don't like the way you treated us in World War
That group says, "We don't like the way you treated us in the eighteenth
The other group says, "We don't like the way you treated us in the fourteenth
It goes on and on and on and on until somebody says, "Stop. I am going to break
the cycle." Forgiveness is the way to break that cycle.
Forgiveness in Russia
I saw a tremendous example of forgiveness in operation a little over a year ago
when I went to Russia, which was at that time still the Soviet Union. I was
privileged to be with a group of Christians, and we went and visited the
headquarters of the KGB. The interpreter for that group was a Christian
evangelist. He is Russian by birth, but his family had to leave when he was
seven years old. They were chased out of the country. His uncle was killed. He
had relatives who were put in a concentration camp.
Here was an older man who had his radio programs blocked for years, jammed by
KGB jamming devices, who had his visas turned down for years. He couldn't visit
Russia. Now he was translating for the number two man in the KGB, who was a
ramrod-straight army colonel.
The KGB colonel went ahead and said, "Before there can be perestroika in our
country, there has to be a stage of repentance. We have done many things wrong,
and we must repent for them."
The interpreter, Alex Leonovich, who is a huge bear of a man, turned to him,
broke his interpretation and said, "Colonel, Jesus told us how to respond when
someone repents. In the name of Christ, in the name of my family, in the name of
my uncle, I forgive you for what your organization did to me."
Then we saw the amazing scene of this big bear of a man, a Russian evangelist,
reaching over to a ramrod-straight KGB colonel and embracing him in a huge,
Russian bear hug. We could see whispers going on. We didn't know what they said
until later when Alex told us. The KGB colonel said, "Alex, only two times in my
life have I cried. Once was when my mother died and once was tonight."
That was the power of forgiveness - a way to break the chain that can go on and
on and on. It's not fair, but it breaks that chain.
Forgiveness Breaks Strangleholds
There is a second reason why I believe God asks us to forgive, and that is it
breaks the stranglehold in you and in me, not just the stranglehold on the
relationship, but the stranglehold in us.
I have seen that acted out on stage, as many people have, in the most popular
musical in recent times. It is a musical based on a novel by Victor Hugo, Les
Miserable. In that musical, there is a wonderful story of a convict who was a
hardened, mean man and had been in jail for ten years, doing hard labor in
He was finally set free, but he had a convict card. He couldn't get a job; he
couldn't even stay in a hotel room. He went to a bishop's house. The bishop let
him stay over night. In the middle of the night when everyone went to sleep, the
convict got up, stole a silver candlestick, and crept out of the bishop's house
and took off through the woods.
He was caught. He was caught by the French policemen. They came in the middle of
the night, woke up the bishop and said, "We've got him, this lying, conniving
thief. We've got him. This time we are going to put him away for life."
The bishop turned to this man cowering in chains and said, "That's no thief.
That's my guest, Jean Valjean, but I gave him two candlesticks, not one. He
forgot one." He reached in a drawer and gave him another silver candlestick. The
police had to let him go. That experience of forgiveness for something he had
done wrong, that unfair act of forgiveness, seeped down inside of Jean Valjean.
He kept those candlesticks for the rest of his life as mementos of what the
bishop had done.
I saw another scene of forgiveness acted out on the international stage when
East Germany first started coming back together with West Germany. There was a
period of time before they joined when they were not a Communist state, but they
elected their parliament. Do you know what their first act as parliament was?
I'll read it to you. The very first act that East Germany passed was this:
"We, the first freely elected parliamentarians of the German Democratic
Republic, on behalf of the citizens of this land, admit responsibility for the
humiliation, expulsion and murder of Jewish men, women, and children. We feel
sorrow and shame and acknowledge this burden of German history. We ask all the
Jews of the world to forgive us."
That was their first act as a nation. For fifty years their leaders had been
telling them, "You didn't do that. Those were your West German brothers. We
weren't Nazis." We didn't do this evil, but down deep the guilt was still there.
It was still a stranglehold on them. When they finally became a country freely
elected, the first thing they wanted to do was to break that stranglehold - turn
it back over.
We Must Forgive Because He Forgave
There is a third reason that I think God asks us to forgive, and that is because
God first forgave us. It is one thing to get into a tit-for-tat war with a wife,
husband, a nation. It is another thing to get into one with God because we are
going to lose every time. Not one of us deserves forgiveness from God.
When Jesus came to earth, He came and left a wonderful example of forgiveness.
What I learned from that example was that forgiveness probably wasn't very easy
for God. It was hard for Him. When Jesus was in the garden, he prayed "Lord, if
there is any other way..." There was no other way but the hard way.
At the cross some of His last words were, "Father, forgive them for they don't
know what they do." The Roman soldiers, the mobs yelling, people all down
through the chain of history including you and me, "Forgive them for they don't
know what they do." I think in some ways the cross is God's way of saying, "It
is pretty impressive that I forgive you for some of the dastardly things that
you have done."
Giving the Burden to God
I was reading the book of Romans not long along ago, and I will leave you with
this verse from Romans 12:19. Paul is giving a number of commands and
instructions on living, and at the end he says, "Do not take revenge, my
friends, but leave room for God's anger, for it is written: 'It is mine to
avenge; I will repay,' says God. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil
In the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. It is the belief that God
can take care of the fairness problems. It is not fair just to pretend that
something didn't happen. It did happen. It still hurts. It still stings.
Forgiveness is not fair, but forgiveness is a way of taking that burden from us
and giving it to God Who is fair. "I will avenge," says the Lord. You forgive.
It breaks the cycle of relationships. It breaks the stranglehold on you and on
me and it is what God did for us in His Son Jesus on the cross.
by Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is a free-lance writer whose articles have appeared
in 80 different publications, including Reader's Digest, National Wildlife,
Saturday Evening Post, and The Christian Century. He writes a monthly column for
Christianity Today magazine, where he serves as Editor at Large. Five of
Philip's eleven books have won the Gold Medallion Award, including
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and Disappointment with God.
first Yancey book to reach my hands, back in the late 70's, was entitled,
Where is God When It Hurts. It was a source of comfort at a time when I had
huge questions about God's goodness. Since those days, I have had to read each
new book he has put out to see where he has gotten to on the Highway Home. To
read a Yancey book is to 'up close and personal' observe the man's spiritual
journey. His open, candid, and personally vulnerable style of writing captured
my attention from that very first book. One can appreciate the shifts that have
taken place in Yancey's life because they parallel our own. He has never been
afraid to face the difficult questions of our faith, while at the same time
openly sharing his own struggles and personal trials as a fellow sojourner. This
has made Phillip Yancey one of my all-time literary heroes and feels like a
long-time friend. - Don Milam, author of
The Ancient Language
of Eden -
"The Ancient Language of Eden"
Rediscovering the Original Language of Jesus - Love, Grace & Mercy
by Don Milam
a forgotten Language...waiting to be discovered.
The Ancient Language of Eden takes you on
a unique journey back in time to the beginning of all things. You will fly on
the wings of grace into the arms of Jesus where you will rediscover your native
tongue - the language of grace, mercy, and love. You will also weep as you learn
how the code of religion with its clichés, cliques, and corporate structures
destroyed the old language. In the end, you will emerge into Eden's bright
light, speaking again the sweet words of that ancient language.
In that ancient garden, at the edge of time, you
will discover the forgotten language. There in that garden palace you will also
experience the passion and power of the early days of life in Eden before the
primitive language was corrupted and eventually lost.
Feel free to
OR by phone (1-8.6.6-881-0477)
understood, yet profoundly deep, The Ancient Language of Eden is one of
the clearest portrayals of God's love relationship with man - the crown of His
creation - that I have ever read. If you are in search of food that will satisfy
your soul, like that of an evening enjoying a delightful seven course meal with
your most intimate friend, then you will devour this feast. Written from a pen
of a transparent life, Don Milam breaks the bread of the master and of his own
life that will compel you to come running into the arms of our Father's
Embrace." - Jim W. Goll,
Cofounder of Ministry to the Nations, Author,
The Lost Art of
Wasted on Jesus
book weaves together a tapestry of 'scandalous love!' Grace will once again
become no less than amazing as you rediscover 'the ancient language of Eden.'
Get ready to encounter the God of Love and meet Him between the lines. Get ready
to be ruined by His heart!"
- Jill Austin
Founder of Master Potter Ministries, Author,
and Master Potter
and the Mountain of Fire
is a handbook about spiritual rebirth and revival. Not the theory, but the way
into it. From the first page, The Ancient Language of Eden drips with the
Presence that salts the soul's thirst for Him and breathlessly waits for the
encounter! As you read, the encounter begins. It is filled with bursts of
revelation that will astound and overwhelm you, seeding your soul with glimpses
of glory that linger for months. Inspired and intelligent, The Ancient
Language of Eden is a compass for seekers of every age and tongue.
Beautifully done from a heart of experience with a Living God that transcends
religion and touches His glory, The Ancient Language of Eden evokes a
deep-unto-deep opening to God. Don Milam lets us realize we are the ink that
wets the pen of the Greatest Story Teller, and He is inscribing each of us on
the pages of His autobiography. In the same spirit of the mystics, the influence
of The Ancient Language of Eden is a timely masterpiece set to become a
benchmark classic in Christian reflection and disciplines of the spirit that
will extend well beyond our day."
- Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda, All Nations Church
Feel free to
OR by phone (1-8.6.6-881-0477)
"The Jesus I Never Knew"
by Philip Yancey
The Jesus I Never Knew
"There is no writer that I admire and appreciate more."
- Billy Graham
a GREAT Misunderstanding of the Prophetic Ministry..." -- Steve Shultz
Regarding the book,
THE JESUS I NEVER
There is a great misunderstanding of the Prophetic Ministry by even those who
are prophetic. The Prophetic is about greater and greater revelation of Jesus,
if it's anything at all!
Here's how the Apostle Paul talks about the Prophetic...
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may
give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know HIM better.
This book we are introducing to the ELIJAH LIST is perhaps the most prophetic
book I've ever read...because it gives some of the greatest revelation of and
about Jesus that I personally have ever seen. I am amazed, intrigued, and
uplifted by who this God/Man Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God was --
This book is no "reaction" to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST movie. It came out
before the movie came out. Yet I would say without question that this book,
THE JESUS I NEVER
KNEW, and the movie, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, have been the two most
influential works (other than the Bible itself) that have come into my life --
EVER, to show me a deeper and more profound revelation (which is prophetic) of
Who Jesus is to me -- and to mankind.
I PRAY you will get this book,
THE JESUS I NEVER
KNEW, by Philip Yancey.
It literally changed my picture of who Jesus was. It will change yours too!
Steve Shultz, Publisher
THE ELIJAH LIST
Now 115,000 subscribers!
Feel free to
OR by phone (1-8.6.6-881-0477)
"When we look hard into God's Word, we always learn
something new about Jesus. Thanks, Philip, for pointing the way." - Joni
Eareckson Tada, President, Joni and Friends
"This is the best book
about Jesus I have ever read, probably the best book about Jesus in the whole
century. Yancey gently took away my blinders and blazed the trail through my own
doubting fears, pious know-it-all, and critical balderdash until I saw the
Savior anew and thought I heard Him ask me, 'Now who do you say that I am?' and
I understood the question as I never had before." - Lewis B. Smedes,
Senior Professor, Fuller Theological Seminary, Author of Forgive and Forget
the more than twenty years I've known Philip Yancey, he has shown a deep and
persistent hunger for the truth in Jesus. I would rather read his words on Jesus
than almost any other contemporary's, for I know that he speaks from deep
learning and deep passion." - Tim Stafford
"Philip Yancey takes the
reader with him on his very personal journey to Jesus. In
The Jesus I Never
Knew, I became convinced that the Jesus I met - in
some ways for the first time - has known me all along. This book is destined to
become a favorite to recommend to those still seeking Jesus and to pass along to
those who've met him, but long to know him more." - Elisa Morgan,
President, MOPS International
What happens when a respected Christian
journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the
Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare
to the "new, rediscovered" Jesus - or even the Jesus we think we know so well?
Best-selling author Philip Yancey says, "The Jesus I got to know in writing this
book is very different from the Jesus I learned about in Sunday school. In some
ways He is more comforting; in some ways more terrifying."
Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work
- His teachings, His miracles, His death and resurrection - and ultimately, who
He was and why he came. Relating the gospel events to the world we live in
Jesus I Never Knew gives a moving and refreshing portrait of the
central figure of history. With a willingness to tackle difficult questions,
Yancey looks at the radical words of this itinerant Jewish carpenter and asks
whether we are taking Him seriously enough in our own day and age.
From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem, Yancey presents a
complex character who generates questions as well as answers; a disturbing and
exhilarating Jesus who wants to radically transform your life and stretch your
The Jesus I
Never Knew uncovers a Jesus who is brilliant, creative, challenging,
fearless, compassionate, unpredictable, and ultimately satisfying. This honest
book will help you discover a different Jesus from the flannelgraph Sunday
school figure, the sweetly smiling Victorian Savior, and all the cultural
clichés that have tamed Jesus and kept Him in comfortable religious boxes.
According to Yancey, "No one who meets Jesus ever stays the same. In the end, I
found the process of writing this book to be a great act of faith-strengthening.
Jesus has rocked my own preconceptions and has made me ask hard questions about
why those of us who bear His name don't do a better job of following him."
Feel free to
OR by phone (1-8.6.6-881-0477)
To donate by regular mail, use
Elijah List Ministries (Now a
528 Ellsworth St SW
Albany, OR 97321
or call: 1-8.6.6-881-0477 or
If you donate $15 or more to Elijah List
Ministries, we will send you our current tape of the Month NO_CHARGE, as a token
of our appreciation. Any amount over $15 will be tax deductible.
Permission is granted (and you are
also encouraged) to reprint these articles in hard copy form, as well as sending
them to your own email lists and posting them on your own websites. We ask only
that you keep Elijah List website, email contact info, and author contact
Thank you and blessings, Steve
Shultz, Publisher, The Elijah List
Subscribe to the
Elijah List Here
(please allow 2-3 business days to process, you only need to submit an
Cliquez ici pour souscrire à la Liste Elie en français
Puede suscribirse a La lista de Elias en español al mandar un mensaje de correo
"The Way of the Warrior"
with Graham Cooke, Pat King, Steve Shultz, and Arthur Burk
$80.00 15-cassette series
"The Bait of Satan"
by John Bevere
More New Resources...
"Parables in the
by Joy Parrott
"Overcoming the Spirit
with Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane and Steve Thompson
$20.00 4-cassette series
More Top Sellers...
"The Strength in the Bronze Bow"
by Francis Frangipane
(Jun 23, 2004)
"I Plan to Give Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation
to America...and Kiss Her Face Again!"
by Bill Yount
(Jun 22, 2004)
"What is God Doing Today?"
by Iverna Tompkins
(Jun 21, 2004)
from Conrad Lampan
(Jun 20, 2004)
Mr. Fish and Mr. Turtle: "The Odd Couple"
Written By Missionary Tracy and Jesus
(Jun 19, 2004)
our Online Web
Service for Ministries
Conference Near You
the Elijah List
Newsletter in Plain
this to your friends and your own lists. Please also keep the author and Elijah
List info intact. Others may freely subscribe or unsubscribe to THE ELIJAH LIST
by sending an email to: email@example.com
or by going to