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Practicing Forgiveness.

Gifts of the Spirit have been the topic of much debate through the years. There are some

groups who lean heavily on the supernatural or charismatic gifts. Unfortunately, some of these

groups have put those who “operate” in these gifts up on an undeserving pedestal. The down side

of this lifting up of individuals is the forsaking of the building up of the whole body. This is sure

evidence that this person, though endued with charismatic gifts, has lost sight of their real

motivation – love and service for the building up of the body.

Contrarily, there are some groups that tend to suppress the supernatural for various

reasons (some of which include what is stated in the previous paragraph). These groups tend to

lean more toward the idea of service gifts demonstrated in their works toward each other and the

disadvantaged. The difficulty with this position is that we can, inadvertently or purposely, set

aside those moments where we need a supernatural unction from God in order love someone and

help them to grow.

The balance between these two sides has to be love. Whether we are used in some word

of wisdom or prophecy the guiding force behind it is the love of Christ for His body and the lost.

If we serve others with gifts of hospitality or leadership we do so because wanting what is best

for the other person motivates us. In the end all of these gifts are in a general sense supernatural.

It is only the supernatural act of salvation that cuts us away from the deadness of selfishness and

pride so we may serve the world.

There has been no greater place in the world where I have experienced more personal

hurt than in the church. Part of this is because of individuals who were not practicing love or

walking in the Spirit. Some of the hurt came because of the confidence I had placed in some

leaders who handled their position with flippancy. On the other, hand I too have embodied these
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negative traits at some time or another. I came to the conclusion many years ago that while I was

praying to forgive someone who had hurt me, there were others saying that same prayer about


The church must be a place of mutual forgiveness if we are to survive. The road to

Heaven is littered with the corpses of those who refused to forgive or to confess their wrongs

against others. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to take the human frailty of

self and others in stride. Instead of repaying “evil with evil” we are called to “be careful to do

what is right with everybody” (Rom 12:17). Accomplishing this is only possible when we offer

our bodies as “living sacrifices” (Rom 12:1). This paradoxical phrase seems strange to many but

it is in reality the basis of mutual forgiveness and mutual acceptance.

The sacrifice does not quip and quarrel over their own agenda because it is dead. But

Paul purposely uses the word “living” to demonstrate the already-not-yet tension. That is, we are

to count ourselves dead but we are not dead so we have the opportunity to leave the altar and

choose bitterness. However, we must realize that great freedom comes in remaining dead to the

hurts and whims of others.

This same principle works in our relationship with those in authority. We are to do our

best to live in peace with others (Rom 12:18). Nevertheless, not all men live by the same code of

conduct, which makes it tough to obey the Scriptures. Consequently, it seems God uses those

whose values differ from us as a means of grace to develop within us the characteristics of love,

respect and boldness to stand for what is good and right.

In the end, Christians are not called to be doormats or whipping boys that sheepishly

surrender all human freedom. On the contrary, we are called to walk in a different freedom but

also in a different responsibility. The goal of a Christian is higher than the non-Christian because
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we realize our actions and attitudes in no small way affect the eternal destinies of those we