In the course of many years of working with individuals and churches in various parts of the world, I have discovered that every problem situation was easily dissolved by the act of forgiveness.
It’s a strange and mysterious thing that completely alters a situation in just a few seconds when we apply it.
Some years ago a Board member of the church I was pastoring at the time seemed to be a constant source of irritation in Board meetings. On one particular occasion I was greatly agitated by his attitude and discovered feelings of anger and bitterness growing in my heart.
I studiously avoided contact with him as resentment continued to boil up in my heart. All the while, the Lord continued to prod me to go to him and apologize for the resentment I was feeling toward him, but not to mention anything about his attitude. Unfortunately my stubborn spirit refused, but instead began to rationalize that it would be a futile effort and could lead to a more serious situation.
Then one Prayer Meeting night my message struck me as lifeless, a nice little homily of hollow platitudes, but totally devoid of the power of the Spirit. I knew the reason. My unforgiving spirit was robbing me of fellowship with God.
The horrifying thought of the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer struck me, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Just at that time I was walking down a crowded hallway and there coming toward me was my estranged brother. There was no way to avoid him. We were on a collision course even though I tried vainly to avoid eye contact.
In those fleeting seconds, a penetrating thought from God pierced my heart. “It is now or never.”
Brokenhearted I cried to God, ‘forgive me, dear Lord, and help me now.” I opened up my arms and put them around my brother and said, “I am so sorry for my wrong attitudes. Please forgive me.”
Instantly his arms clasped me tightly as he responded, “It’s not you, pastor. I have sinned against God and you. You please forgive me.” There in the hallway with people milling all around us we celebrated the thrilling act of forgiveness and became fast friends to this day.
What a difference there would be in our churches, our missions, our own lives if we would only humble ourselves and forgive one another.
I discovered in this experience the powerful effect of the Word of God prodding me to take this step. I could not argue with God’s Word as it hounded me day after day. How thankful I have been over the years for God’s Word that the Holy Spirit has used to quicken my heart and bring me face-to-face with the truth and my own sin.
As I listened and obeyed, there was marvelous deliverance.
Satan knows that an unforgiving spirit separates us from God and His mighty power. If we persist in that spiritual stage, we may continue to preach or teach, and do the things we normally do in our ministry, but it will be devoid of power and the miraculous. Besides, the lost people all around us continue on their downward way to destruction because we have no power to touch their lives with the healing Word of God.
The consequences of an unforgiving spirit are so enormous that it should drive us to our knees to seek God’s forgiveness for our personal attitudes and actions, and be restored to be what God intended, a channel through which His blessing would flow to a dying world.
Anthony Bollback was born into a Christian home that always entertained missionaries. He received Christ at age 16 after a near-drowning incident at a summer youth conference. Beginning his missionary career in China, he and his wife Evelyn, were forced to evacuate when the Communists took over, and three years later began serving in Japan for five years. The remainder of his 24 years in Asia was spent in Hong Kong where he planted and directed 10 chapels and schools with 10,000 students. He served as Field Chairman of the China-Hong Kong Field of The Christian and Missionary Alliance for four years. Unexpectedly, God changed his direction and sent him to Honolulu for a most effective ministry as pastor of Kapahulu Bible Church. He retired from active ministry after serving as District Superintendent of the Mid-America District C&MA for 9 very productive years.
Following retirement in Florida, he began an active writing career and the publishing of a very popular series of 6 books based on his experiences in China for children entitled Jack and Jenny Mystery Series. His most popular adult books based on the persecution of the church in China are the two-book series entitled The Persecuted Church in China: Red Runs the River, Vol. 1 and Exiles of Hope, Vol. 2.
He continues a very active ministry of writing and speaking that includes a monthly e-letter called China Clippings. In addition he serves on the Church Board and is an Elder in the church.