By Claudine McDaniel
Hello my dear friend. I am Claudine McDaniel, the founder of a ministry called Beyond Conquerors and the author of the book called More than Conquerors: From Struggles to Forgiveness From Forgiveness to Blessings. My vision is to bring love and hope to individuals who have been knocked down by life’s difficulties. I have gone through a lot of hardship in my own life, and by the grace of God I have more than conquered the difficulties. I’m still standing and doing well. It is now my desire to share with others, both men and women, how I was able to overcome my difficulties. Forgiveness is the “how” I want to share with you today.
I want to share with you a life-changing story I came across in the Bible at a time when I moved from Africa to the United States, and was reluctant about forgiving my ex-husband who had deeply and repeatedly hurt me. The passage I was reading is Luke 17:1 - 6. In this text Jesus was talking to His disciples, but at the time I was reading it I felt like He was speaking to me personally. This text has served me as a tool and has guided me on my way to success because applying the content has helped me to live my life in abundance. I have gone from being almost homeless to where I am today. That is why I want to share it with you, so it might help you to unleash the blessings that God has stored for you.
My story begins with me seated on my twin size mattress on the floor of my room in Maryland. It was on Sunday morning July 30, 2006 around 5:00 a.m. I woke up and could not go back to sleep, so I opened my Bible to the Gospel of Luke and began to read.....
Here we go!!!
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.”
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. (Luke 17:1-6)
My reflection on the text ☺
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.” What are the things that cause people to stumble? They are offenses.
To stumble means: to falter, to lose spiritual balance. Such stumbling is dangerous and might lead to sin or inappropriate anger allowing us to become bitter and hostile, and to lose our emotional stability...
So offenses that cause us to stumble (that can lead to sin and bitter anger, hostility, and loss of emotional stability) are bound to come.
Bound to come means that they are certain to happen and are likely to come on a regular basis.
“. . . but woe to anyone through whom they come” is a condemnation of those who offend another person.
So the meaning to this verse is: offenses that cause spiritual and emotional instability, that lead to bitterness and hostility, are certain to happen and may come on a regular basis, but calamity and sorrow will befall the one through whom the offenses come.
“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” This entire verse means that God sees what is done to us -- what was done to me and you -- and He will discipline the person who has caused us to stumble (to falter and lose our spiritual and emotional stability). He will fight the fight for us. That is what He did for me.
“So watch yourselves.” Be careful not to stumble yourself, and not to cause someone else to stumble, but . . .
“If your brother or sister sins against you..." -- that is, causes you to stumble -- “...rebuke him or her...” If someone knowingly or unknowingly offends us, we need to let the person know what he or she did that was wrong and how it hurt us. When it happens to me, I address the issue, tell the person of the problem and that I expect him or her to stop.
“ ...and if they repent, forgive them.” If they show that they are sorry for their action, express a sincere regret, and if they ask for forgiveness, I should forgive them.
So, I asked myself what is forgiveness? It is a deliberate decision to release feelings of anger and resentment and the desire for vengeance against a person or group who has offended us, regardless of whether we think that they deserve our forgiveness.
"Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” If they repeatedly offend you or me and then recognize that they have hurt us and ask for forgiveness, we must forgive them -- that is, we must release the anger and resentment. Even when they don’t stop offending us, I must forgive them anyway.
"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!” They are saying to Jesus that this is too much for us to handle. We need more faith.
Then, I asked myself: what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When it comes to forgiveness, faith is being confident that we can totally forgive the person who has caused us to stumble, and that if we expect total forgiveness to take place, it will happen.
“He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.’”
A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds in the world. It is so tiny that one can barely grab it in the hand. Jesus' statement means that if we have a small amount of faith -- even as small as a tiny mustard seed -- we can command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and cast into the sea, and it will be done.
The mulberry tree symbolizes the negative emotions that were planted in our souls when the person offended us, emotions that over time have developed roots and have grown into tree-size feelings of bitterness and hostility and a desire for vengeance.
But, if we have even a small amount of faith in God we can tell our negative emotions to "be uprooted." Our faith allows us to pull those destructive feelings from within us -- to leave our souls -- and to be cast into the sea. If we have faith, it will happen.
This means that even if we have faith, we still need to make that faith work before we can recover our stability. In other words, we need to speak to the negative emotions, believing that they will be plucked up by the root, removed from within us and cast into the sea where they cannot grow -- and it will be done if we ask "in Jesus’ name." When we decide to forgive, we need to tell the bad feelings to leave us, believing that they will leave and that they will leave in the name of Jesus.
So, if you and I can tell our negative emotions to leave and know through faith that they will obey, why is it so difficult to forgive? When I asked myself this question, I realized the only reason it can be so difficult for you and I to forgive is when the bad emotions are so strong that they are in control of our behavior. It is when our hurtful feelings have been elevated above our desire to forgive.
My emotions are telling me that what my offender did to me was so awful and hurtful that he or she doesn't deserve forgiveness. That's why it can sometimes be so difficult to forgive.
At the end of my study of the verses in Luke 17, I felt that the Lord was directly talking to me, saying that He understands the “offenses” which have caused me to be angry and that he is fighting my battle for me. That is why He had opened the door for me to come into the United States.
But then I realized that I needed to do my part to forgive the man who had hurt me. Unless I forgave him I would never find the strength to move on with my life. I knew that as long as I clung to the negative feelings it would be impossible for me to find a more meaningful life and discover the wonderful things that He had in store for me.
Also, if I refused to forgive, my bitterness and hatred would grow into an ugly tree with deep roots and that would eventually cause me to hurt others -- the people I loved. I did not want to cause pain. What I most wanted was to move on with my life, to help others and not to hurt them.
And yet I remember how I still felt the terrible anger and how my negative emotions were telling me that the man who had offended me so deeply did not deserve forgiveness. This deep inner feeling was an indication that my negative emotions were being exalted above my desire of choosing to forgive.
Nevertheless, based on what Jesus said in Luke's verses, I fought back the desire to hold on to my anger and bitterness and decided to forgive. At that point I made it my priority to speak to those negative emotions, believing that they would be pulled out by the roots and removed from within me -- and that it would be done in the name of Jesus.
Not too long after I made that decision, I totally forgave my ex-husband. Now I was finally able to move forward with my life. I was free to go to school, to write a book, to form an organization called "Beyond Conquerors”, to help women like myself who have been knocked down by life’s difficulties -- the things that cause us all to stumble, things that are bound to happen -- and yet things that through faith and forgiveness we can overcome.
My dear friend, perhaps you, like me, have been abandoned by a person you love, and you may have been left to raise your children alone. Or perhaps someone has taken advantage of your good heart, your openness and your vulnerability. Maybe you have been mistreated and humiliated by others. God is telling you that He knows about the offenses which have caused you anger and pain, and that He doesn't want you to try to pay your offender back since He is fighting your battle for you. That is why He has pulled you out of an abusive situation, that is why you are alive, and that is why you are still able to reason. But you need to do your part to forgive so you can move on with your life, to blossom and succeed. The way to do that is to choose to forgive -- to speak to those negative feelings, believing that they will be plucked out by the root and be removed from within you; and it should be done in Jesus name.
My friend, if you make a decision to forgive and believe you can forgive, I can assure you that you will begin to see your life in a new light. You will no longer be bound by the chains of despair. You will feel free. You will begin to experience joy, peace, and happiness. You will develop the ability to be more creative and productive, becoming healthier, stronger, and younger. You will begin to experience the blessing of the Lord on another level.
To close, I want to tell you my brothers and sisters, that God loves you so much and that He gave His one and only Son so that if you believe in Him you will not perish, but that you can find a new and more meaningful life today, and an eternal life in the future. His Son Jesus died on the cross so that your sins can be forgiven.
I encourage you to make the decision to follow Jesus and ask Him to forgive you for your sins. If you want to receive Christ, you are welcome to say this prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I now turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
If you said the prayer above, Christ Jesus has forgiven you from your sins and He is now living in you. Talk to Him about anything and everything that is going on in your life, and watch Him turn your life around.
If you wish to discuss future opportunities to provide support, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking on "Contact Us" at the bottom of our page.