I first learned the importance of guarding ones heart against bitterness and resentment when I was involved in an “Airlift” to Ireland in 1984. At the time, a civil war had been raging between Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland since the late 1960’s. The hotel in which Barbara and I stayed in Belfast had been bombed seventeen times. While traveling in southern Ireland an incident that occurred in Dundalk, a small town located just south of the border between Southern and Northern Ireland, that dramatized the importance of forgiving others if we want to keep our bodies free of sickness and disease.
Father Hampsch, a Roman Catholic Priest from Southern California, was traveling with our Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship’s ‘Airlift Team’ while we ministered in Southern Ireland. The Priest would teach in local Catholic Churches in the morning and we business men would speak in the local Full Gospel Business Men’s chapters in the evening.
On Friday morning at the end of the first week in Ireland, Father Hampsch finished his morning teaching on the importance of forgiving others, if we want God to forgive and heal us, and asked people who wanted prayer to come forward. (Mark 11:24&25) An Irish lady in her late forties approached my wife Barbara and me for prayer. It appeared that every joint of her body was affected by rheumatoid arthritis; it was obvious that she was in severe pain. I asked her if she understood what Fr. Hampsch had just taught concerning the importance of forgiving others if we wanted God to forgive and heal us; she related that she understood. I then asked her if she was holding anger or bitterness toward anyone, she replied, “Yes, many people.” We led her in a simple prayer in which she asked her Heavenly Father to forgive her for the bitterness and resentment she had harbored toward these people, and she named the people quietly before the Lord. I reminded her that Fr. Hampsch had taught that if possible she should contact each of these people and ask them to personally forgive her for her bitterness’. She agreed that she would do so. When she finished asking for forgiveness, we prayed for her healing, but there was no apparent change. Her joints were still filled with pain.
Frankly, I left the meeting in Dundalk that afternoon thinking the lady hadn’t received a thing from the Lord. That night my wife and I traveled to Northern Ireland where we would speak in a number of Full Gospel Business Men’s meetings in and around the city of Belfast during the following week.
On the following Friday, Barbara and I returned to Dundalk to speak in the local Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting, which was to be held in the same restaurant in which we had prayed for the woman with arthritis the previous week. When we walked into the restaurant there was the woman, for whom we had prayed for healing the previous Friday, and she was smiling from ear to ear. In fact she had brought ten or twelve other people with her to the meeting to receive their healing. She ran to Barbara and me, threw her arms around us, and exclaimed, “I visited the doctor yesterday, and all the arthritis is gone.” Since that experience in Ireland, I have observed Christian people all over the world who have allowed bitterness and resentment to become established in their heart, and it has hindered their prayers and allowed the enemy of their souls to inflict their bodies with disease and pain.
Walking In Love Is A Precondition For Healing
“…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment,” And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
LOVE TRUMPS ALL OTHER LAWS
One day a lawyer desiring to test Jesus asked him the following question: “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus didn’t hesitate, He immediately replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment,” and the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
It is important to understand that the Law of Love is the master law of the universe. Failing to walk in love and harmony with God and your neighbor will hinder your ability receive your healing; And it will hinder your ability to successfully walk in any of the other spiritual laws because. “Upon the law of love hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
OBEDIENCE CAUSES THE BLESSINGS OF GOD TO COME UPON US
Having witnessed the negative effects that bitterness and resentment can have on a person’s health and business success, I would like for you to clearly understand the following important principle taught in the Creator’s Handbook, “the Bible”:
Moses proclaimed this principle to the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy: “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today,…”And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:” (Deuteronomy 28:1 & 2). Then in the next thirteen verses he describes blessings of prosperity, health, and abundant life that would come upon the Israelites if they carefully observed all the commandments of the law. These blessings describe what is referred to in the New Testament as the “Blessings of Abraham” (Galatians 3:14). Everyone wants prosperity, health, and abundant life; but in order to receive them, it is necessary that we obey the law of the Lord.
DISOBEDIENCE ALLOWS THE CURSES TO COME UPON US
After Moses proclaimed the blessings of Abraham, he declared the curse of the law: “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15). The curses named in the next fifty-three verses include poverty, sickness and death. They include eleven specific diseases, and “Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law…” (Deuteronomy 28:61). These verses describe what is referred to in the New Testament as the “curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13).
A NEW COMMANDMENT I GIVE UNTO YOU
The Old Testament believer, the Israelite had over six hundred laws to obey, but you and I as New Testament believers have only one law to obey, the “Law of Love.” Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34). The Apostle Paul declares “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8-10).
When problems arise in our personal or business lives, they may not always be caused by the devil; they might be caused by bitterness and resentment on our part. We can become the problemthrough un-forgiveness and fleshly actions or reactions. When we teach about faith we often use Mark 11:23 & 24 to describe and demonstrate the “God kind of faith.” But we nearly always overlook the next verse: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses”(Mark 11:25 & 26). You simply cannot get an answer to your prayer for healing or for that matter any other request if you are harboring un-forgiveness in your heart toward another. It is often the little things that keep our faith from working and our prayers from being answered. Often it’s bitterness against another that keeps our voices from being heard in heaven.
WALKING IN LOVE TOWARD OTHERS IS DIFFICULT
Walking in love toward others, particularly those who are not being kind to you, is an area of the faith walk which I have personally found to be the most difficult. However, it is a important part of the faith message, and we must learn to walk in the love of God if we want to experience the blessings of God in our lives and our businesses. It certainly is not easy to walk in love toward someone, especially when they are not being kind toward you, but I know from personal experience that it is the right thing to do if we want God’s blessings in our lives.
LOVE NEVER FAILS
Several years ago my office manager, a woman who had worked with me for a number of years, had a rather sharp disagreement with one of my vice presidents. During the verbal exchange he apparently cursed at her and said some rather unkind things. She became very upset and angry and filed a sexual harassment complaint against our company with the Federal Government. She was in poor health at the time, and was experiencing marital problems, which no doubt contributed to her anguish. In America, a sexual harassment lawsuit can be very expensive for a company to defend against, and it could have cost our company a great deal of money. Several weeks after she filed the complaint she resigned from her position and prepared to leave the company. I decided that even though she was suing our company that we would organize a company luncheon in her honor and present her with a nice going away gift (something we normally did when a long-term employee would leave the firm). She was apparently so embarrassed by the fact that we were blessing her, even though she was in essence cursing us, that she feigned sickness and asked to be excused from attending the luncheon. Following the luncheon we sent the gifts to her home and a week later she withdrew the sexual harassment charge. The Manufacturer’s Handbook says, “Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8).
FAITH WORKS THROUGH LOVE!
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). “faith is important,” but the Creator’s Handbook clearly says that love is greater than faith. Furthermore, the handbook states that faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). If faith works through love then it is essential to your success that you develop and walk in the “God kind of love.”
ONE FINAL THOUGHT…
One day the apostle Peter asked Jesus “How often shall I allow a person to sin against me, and I forgive him? Up till seven times?” Jesus answered, “Not seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Then Jesus related the following story which has a surprisingly harsh ending about a man who would not forgive. In the story, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a king who decided to collect all the debts that were owed to him (Matthew 18:23-35). One of the king’s debtors owed him a great deal of money, more than $10,000,000 in today’s currency. But the man could not repay the king, and the king ordered that everything the man owned, including the man, his wife, and his children be sold, and the money gained from the sale be applied toward the man’s debt. The debtor fell at the king’s feet, begged him earnestly to have patience with him, and promised that he would repay all he owed to the king. The king was moved with compassion for the man and forgave him all his debt.
Now, later the man whom the king had forgiven this extremely large debt, began to settle accounts with his own debtors. One of them, a poor man, owed him the equivalent of $20.00 in today’s currency, but could not repay it. The debtor begged the king, “Give me time, and I will pay you all of it.” But the man whom the king had forgiven the $10,000,000 debt was unwilling to forgive his debtor a mere $20.00 debt, and had him thrown into prison until he should pay his debt.
The king, upon hearing about the incident, was very upset and ordered the man whom he had forgiven the $10,000,000 debt brought before him. The king said to the man, “I forgave you all that debt, because you asked me. Shouldn’t you have had had compassion and done the same to your fellow servant?” The king was very angry and delivered him over to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to the king.
Jesus finished this parable by saying, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses”(Matthew 18:35). In this illustration, Jesus makes it very clear: if we do not forgive our fellow man, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us! He will remove his protective shield and allow the tormentors (the demon spirits of hell) to exact their deadly toll on our mind and our body.