When I was growing up in Argentina, and a brand new believer, we had living with us a relative who at the time we would have called a spinster, a woman who was quite old and single, and unfortunately, very bitter about it. Anything that reminded her of the marriage she didn’t have irritated her. She lived with us, and even though she was a relative she abused us seriously. So when I became a Christian, I was so blessed that Jesus came into my heart and forgave me that I began to forgive people. And I remember when the pastor preached one Sunday on loving your enemies, immediately I knew who my enemy was—my aunt. She was loaded for bear every time I came through the front door. So I forgave her. I went forward, knelt at the altar and said, “Lord, I forgive her.” Immediately I made a mistake. I said, “Okay, Lord. I have fulfilled the scriptures. I forgave her. Now I’ll go home and she’ll be waiting to greet me with my favorite dessert. She’ll welcome me and say, ‘Ed, what were you doing at 9:22?’”
“Oh, I was kneeling at the altar.”
“Well, at that moment an angel came and told me, ‘Love Ed!’”
Right? Wrong! I would go home and she’d be fully loaded for bear. And the devil would say, “You see, the Bible is a lie. It doesn’t work. You love your enemies and it only gets worse!”
The next Sunday I went forward again, did the same thing, and got the same reaction. What was happening is that I wasn’t welcoming the trial, so all I was left with was knowledge, and knowledge puffs us up. Until one day I understood that this would mean nothing until it was tested and approved by the test. So I said, “The promise of God is not that I can forgive those that hurt me, but that I can forgive them and love them even though they continue to hurt me. And that can only be tested in an adversarial relationship.”
Now I was loaded for bear! I was heading home, waiting for a big fight, and sure enough I got it. I walked through the door and she let me have it…but then I said, “Okay Lord, the Bible says I can love my enemies. The Bible says I can bless those that curse me and persecute me. I know it’s true.”
I went the extra mile, I did things for her, I blessed her, and you know what? It worked! From that moment on, my aunt was no longer a threat to me because the principle was tested and became a conviction. And today, what is my favorite subject to talk about? Forgiveness. It became part of my character, a principle got hold of me and God gave me the grace to go through the test and succeed. Now I can tell people that feel trapped, “Welcome the trial, let this thing test you and you too will succeed.”
For more on Forgiving the Unforgivable, watch the video on this topic in the mentoring section at www.transformourworld.org.