|Freedom From Bondage|
Elisabeth Elliot: So this man says, "I knelt by my bed as the Lord took my loneliness and passion as a sacrifice. I also had to release a bundle of hatred for those whom I felt had used me."
Lisa Barry: Did you notice the powerful words that this man used in his letter? Just think about them for a minute. He spoke of loneliness, which often triggers a very profound feeling of sadness. He mentioned passion, which has swept away many people down a raging river. And the last powerful word he used was hatred.
Could it be that those words describe the state of your heart right now? It's a heavy load, isn't it? And it's my prayer that as you listen to today's program that at least a portion of that load would be lifted from your shoulders. All this week, Elisabeth Elliot will be focusing on forgiveness?something that many of us know we should do but find it hard to execute. Let's get started with this Monday edition of Gateway to Joy.
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That?s what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you today about the subject of forgiveness.
I have the testimonies here in front of me of four men and one desperate woman. The first letter says this. "I have just read the chapter, ?Honor Above Passion? in your book, PASSION AND PURITY. I am a man. I wonder sometimes if I am strange reading a book meant mostly for women."
And I need to explain something right here, and I hope I can get this across to both my men and women listeners. Books about sexual purity are equally meant for men and women. Why would a man feel that he has no responsibility to maintain sexual purity? Is that entirely the woman?s job? Do we have to beat them off with a stick? Or shouldn?t a godly man keep his distance? So my book, PASSION AND PURITY, and the book called QUEST FOR LOVE, both are meant for men and women. I hope that?s crystal clear.
So this man says, "I knelt by my bed as the Lord took my loneliness and passion as a sacrifice. I also had to release a bundle of hatred for those whom I felt had used me. I had been in the majority who sacrifice anything?security, honor, self-respect, the welfare of people they love, obedience to God?to passion. I spent tonight, Saturday night, apologizing to my children, ages 19, 17, 15 and 11, for sacrificing our relationship for the possibility of passion.
I unashamedly at the time sacrificed my honor, my self-respect, my relationship with my children, and my obedience to God for the possibility of passion to a woman. I allowed myself to be manipulated and controlled, because I felt I better get married while I still could. Oh, forgive me, God, for my stupidity!
Thank you, Mrs. Elliot, for allowing God the avenue to speak. Your words and thoughts pierce through to my heart. I have tried to get mad at what you say. I thank God for those who speak the Word without hesitation and faltering. I pray the Lord to restore my relationship with my children. I realize that it might not happen."
Then there?s a long P.S. "It?s so sad when a man of 40 so easily reverts to the sins of his youth just to love or to be loved. Another day, another set of circumstances. My 17-year-old son surrendered to the ministry this morning. Praise God! I find myself in wonder at those great people of the faith."
This man says, "I?m a trucker. It seems no matter where I travel, I can always pick up your broadcast on a Christian radio station. When I wrote you before, I was living with a woman whom I was not married to, having left my wife and three children to be with her. I think I stated that I felt that God was speaking to me through your program and others like it on Christian radio, but I also gave justification as to why I felt as though I had good reason to have left my wife and live with the other.
I?m writing you now years later to say that although I had everyone accepting the situation, I never seemed to get any reassurance from God that it was okay with Him. Eventually, much of the conversation that I had with the ?other woman? was that what we were doing wasn?t morally right. It seemed as though to have an ever-growing, ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, I had to give that wrongful relationship up. Thank God! My wife and I are together again, along with our three children; all in the same house again as a family.
On a recent program, you dealt with renewing your mind. It also focused on weight. The breakdown of my marriage that led me to having an affair had a lot to do my wife?s weight. She became heavier and heavier. We could never talk about it. Over time, a great wall came between us because of it. My wife?s resistance in relating to me about it made me feel unimportant, unloved and disregarded.
We talked about our house, our kids, our jobs, our finances, but nothing about us. I?m not writing the above to say that I had good reason to have an affair, to cheat on my wife or family or anything like that. I?m just trying to say that I think every affair outside of marriage has a catalyst?my wife?s weight and the wall it created between us being mine. Perhaps you will want to tell your listeners of the importance of never letting walls come between them and their mates and the importance of tearing them down, if they do.
In the person I am now in my relationship to God, I am free to love my wife, free to be a father to my children as I should be. Thank God! I am also thankful that you stick to principles of God's Word as you do. There are many who are willing to compromise, which doesn?t give a road map for life. Instead, it gives a foggy, twisted pathway."
Well, thank God for His forgiveness. I want to read a quotation here from a man named Orville Dewey of the 19th century. "Every relation to mankind of hate or scorn or neglect is full of vexation and torment. There is nothing to do with men but to love them, to contemplate their virtues with admiration, their faults with pity and forbearance, and their injuries with forgiveness. Task all the ingenuity of your mind to devise some other thing, but you can never find it. To hate your adversary will not help you. To kill him will not help you. Nothing within the compass of the universe can help you, but to love him.
But let that love flow out upon all around you. And what could harm you? How many a knot of mystery and misunderstanding would be untied by one word spoken in simple and confiding truth of heart! How many a solitary place would be made glad if love were there! And how many a dark dwelling would be filled with light!"
And I must remind you women about this weight question. So many of you struggle with it. Struggling very often means delayed obedience. You know you don?t like the look in the mirror. You know that you ought to lose weight. You can talk about it. You can laugh about it. You can buy books about it. You can go to exercise programs. You can go on any number of different diets. Well, I?m no expert, but I do know that it is possible to discipline oneself.
I?ve written a little paper on weight, which has nothing to do with diets or special programs or exercise or anything like that. It?s just some very simple principles, which I think might be helpful to some of you. So we will be happy to send that to you, if you call Gateway to Joy.
But we?re talking about forgiveness. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Are you bearing around the tremendous weight of guilt and sin? Remember it was because of our sin that Jesus went to the cross?that old rugged cross, so despised by the world. "It has a wondrous attraction for me. For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above to pardon and sanctify me."
Every single one of us needs the pardon and the sanctification that can come only through the blood of Jesus Christ. I want always to lift high the cross. Take your burdens. Take your bitterness, your anger, your hurt to the cross of Christ. I would suggest that you stop and think about whatever it is that that person did to you that you feel has destroyed your life. So you are bitter and hateful against that person, and you have never thought of forgiving him or her, because that person has never apologized.
But I want you to think of this. If you were to list all the times that you have transgressed against God Himself, do you think that that one hurt that that other person inflicted would come anywhere near close to what you and I have perpetrated against a loving Heavenly Father? Yet He waits to forgive you, to draw you into His arms, to give you freedom from the bondage of unforgiveness.
Lisa Barry: And that's just what happens, isn't it? When we refuse to forgive, it puts us in bondage. Maybe as you listen today, you're thinking of someone who has wronged you and you're finding it hard to forgive. As you consider what to do next, let me encourage you to
purchase a copy of this tape series. Because forgiving that person might seem like a good idea right now, but when all those memories surface later of why you've been angry all these years, you'll need a reminder of what you've heard today. The title to ask for is FORGIVENESS. The cost is $5.00. You can also request a free copy of the paper Elisabeth has written on weight.
Here's our address: Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or call toll-free: 1-800-759-4JOY. By all means, check out our Web site at gatewaytojoy.org. Gateway to Joy is a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible.
Tomorrow Elisabeth talks more about forgiveness, so bring your heartache with you and we'll find just the right place for it. That's next time on Gateway to Joy.