Tag Archives: forgiveness

Growing in God through forgiveness

“Commune with Me” by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During my last article, we journeyed through a difficult field – of how to navigate during a season of silence – whether it’s the silence of God, or what seems to be shut doors in the hallway of whatever season we’re journeying through in our lives.  Yet we discovered that after we look past those closed doors, there is companionship in the silence. God woos our hearts, with just being there, even if he seems silent.  It’s a season of growing trust in our hearts. Sometimes we too need to join that silence and just … rest.

Rest is something that also comes to our hearts when we forgive those who have wronged us.  Near the centre of the Lord’s Prayer is the phrase, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”   This is essential, since unforgiveness raises up barriers against God’s love.  It makes us bitter, broken people.  Let’s learn about forgiveness.

One of the teachers at our Harvest Missions School was RT Kendall.  He spoke on two topics – not grieving the Holy Spirit, and on total forgiveness.  He actually connected the two together.  Unforgiveness grieves the Holy Spirit in such a way that we lose the intimacy of his presence.  Our hearts become cold.  He gave the example of Joseph from the book of Genesis – from when he shared his dreams in chapter 37, was sold into Egyptian slavery, had troubles, and eventually rose in favour.  Through all those years, Joseph could have easily become bitter, especially when he was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  However, he remained with a soft heart, full of forgiveness, with his eyes fixed on the Lord.  And he was given insight that brought him favour – so much that he was released from prison, into Pharoah’s palace as second in command in the land. In Genesis 45, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, who had come for help and food.  He asks them no longer to feel guilty, for he had been given insight that God used their bad action of selling him into slavery with eventual good results. God turned the slavery and prison time into favour in the highest court.  Genesis 45:5-7 says, “ Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of youFor two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

Because Joseph had forgiven his brothers, he was given the ultimate re-frame of what God’s plans were. When we forgive, God can work through us so much better, since he can fill us with pure love that won’t be contaminated by our bitterness.  Forgiveness itself is a witness to those who don’t know God. Who can forgive like Jesus?  That’s what he does. He made it possible for us to forgive completely, since he takes our burdens from our hands and hearts.

RT Kendall also shared at our Harvest School that because Joseph forgave, he was able to grow in all the difficulties he faced.  Since he resisted sexual temptation with Potiphar’s wife, he was eventually made Prime Minister of Egypt. It was a perfect set up for his upcoming family reunion. Joseph knew the moment would come because of his dreams, although he really should not have shared his dream with his brothers. It was too early to share and he was misunderstood.  However, when the brothers come to Egypt for help, he could have said “gotcha!” to his brothers, but he didn’t.  He was a changed Joseph.  Instead, he weeps for them.  Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.

RT shared that the GREATER you have suffered, the greater the anointing you will have when God uses your story for others. Don’t feel sorry for yourself and be bitter. God will use it. It could take as long as it did for Joseph.  If you have forgiven, God will give you the grace to persevere.  Forgiveness can be a process.  How do you know you have forgiven the people who have hurt you?  Total forgiveness is an act of the will.  Don’t wait for God to make you feel total forgiveness.   You choose forgiveness, again and again.  And with each choice, YOU are made stronger. Forget about harbouring unforgiveness. It doesn’t punish those who have hurt you at ALL.  What it does is to give that person free rent in your head.  Forgiveness gives YOU peace of mind.

Your forgiveness also allows God to touch the perpetrator’s heart.  I remember when I took a Father Heart of God course for a week in 1992.  It was life transforming. One truth that impacted me was that when Stephen, the first martyr, was being stoned, he asked God to forgive those who were causing him harm.  He essentially forgave those who were stoning him, as well as Saul of Tarsus, who was holding the cloaks of those who were being violent.  Acts 7:59-60 says, “ While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

My seminar teacher Jack Winter shared that because Stephen had released Saul and the others in forgiveness, it allowed Jesus to touch Saul in that dramatic way while he contemplated persecuting other Christians in Damascus.  Stephen released these people into Jesus’ hands, so that they could be dealt with in the way that God wanted to do. Shortly afterwards, Saul encountered Jesus supernaturally while on the road to Damascus.  Forgiveness also brings much healing – whether for small offences or large. Anglican pastor Dale Lang forgave a school shooter who killed his son in 1999.  This was the Canadian version of the horrible Columbine school massacre, the first of many in North America.  He and his wife chose to forgive, despite their pain.  Dale goes into many schools to share his story of how forgiveness heals. This includes the decision to forgive early before the emotional damage becomes worse. This is also applicable to family arguments.  Rev. Lang shares, “Life is too short to stay angry long at the people we really care about. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger; it really does make a difference.” Dale also shared that if even one person had befriended the boy who killed his son, that boy would never have killed him.  He needed a positive message in his life. I see unforgiveness as negative, and forgiveness as positive.  [Dale Lang, Forgiveness 5, YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5dMNpHcMpE]  (Unfortunately, this video is no longer available).

There are also beautiful stories of forgiveness in the Alpha Course.  Nicky Gumbel shares that when we came to Jesus we were forgiven. That is justification. Our sins are forgiven; but then there’s also the slower process of “becoming LIKE Jesus.” That’s sanctification. Just like we keep on being forgiven, so we keep on forgiving.

Nicky shares, “for me, experiencing God’s forgiveness made all the difference. Before I was a Christian, if someone had offended me, I’d hold a grudge against that person. But holding a grudge is like allowing a person to live rent-free in your head. I used to hold onto unforgiveness, thinking I was doing the other person harm. But now I can see that unforgiveness did far more harm to me than it did to the other person. As someone said, “not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and thinking the other person is going to die.” Once you’ve experienced God’s forgiveness – God forgives YOU, you have to forgive YOURSELF.  And that’s what I find the hardest.  But we have to do it, because CS Lewis points out, “not forgiving ourselves, is like setting ourselves as a higher tribunal than God.”  If God forgives, you must forgive yourself.  And we forgive others, because we’ve been forgiven so much. Forgiveness is a choice, but it’s not an option. And it’s not easy.  CS Lewis said, “everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, and then, it’s really hard.”

But it really is true that the first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, and the first to forget is the happiest.  One of Nicky’s great heroes is Corrie Ten Boom; she was a Dutch Christian who hid Jews during World War 2.  She was caught. Corrie, her sister and her father went to Ravensbrook Concentration Camp. Her father and her sister Betsey died there. She’s an amazing woman, and after the war, she went and spoke to others about forgiveness. She was speaking in a church in Germany one time, and at the end of her talk, she recognized the man coming up to her.  She saw that he was one of the most cruel guards from Ravensbrook concentration camp. She pictured him as he was then. And as he came up to her, he said, “I was a guard at Ravensbrook.  He didn’t recognize her, but she knew, she recognized him. She could see him – she remembered walking naked past him.  She said she felt so cold and so angry. He said, “I’ve become a Christian now. I know I did some very cruel things, but I’ve received God’s forgiveness for the cruelty I’ve done.  And I ask God’s grace for the opportunity to ask one of my victims for forgiveness.

Corrie realized she was being asked if she would forgive him.  She found this very difficult and she initially could not.  She could only remember the suffering of her dying sister through his cruelty.  Because he was evil, Corrie could only hate him.  But then she prayed, “Thank you Jesus, thank you that you have brought into my heart  God’s love through the Holy Spirit. And thank you, Father, that your love is stronger than my hatred and unforgiveness.  That same moment, I was free, and I could say, “Brother, give me your hand, and I shook hands with him.  It was as if I felt God’s love stream through my arms. Your soul is never touched so much as when you experience the depth of God’s love through forgiving your enemies.  Can you forgive?  No. I can’t either. But He can.” [Corrie Ten Boom, as quoted in Alpha Course video, “Why did Jesus Die?”]

This is total, unlimited forgiveness. This same phenomenon can transform a marriage, family life, friendships and more.   Just watch the movie “The War Room.”  The wife went through a process of forgiveness and learning to actively pray for her family.  The result was transformation.

I’ve also experienced forgiveness in my own life. I came to faith at a Dennis Bennett seminar in 1988. He and his wife Rita were strong inner healing teachers, and I learned early about forgiveness through their teaching and books.  I forgave my childhood bullies who teased me, mocked me, beat me up and told me lies about myself.  I forgave my parents for their mistakes and for others who had hurt me intentionally or unintentionally.  And later I forgave the evil man who molested me as a child. I had tried to block my memory of those times so I could cope, but my real healing came after I was able to forgive and then process what happened.  Then I was able to feel again.  That could only have happened through forgiveness.  It gave me a key to my own heart.

I went through a further experience of forgiveness two or three months before my mother died.  She basically died of a condition that made her weaker and weaker, until finally in January 2020, she died.  I could not come to her because I was in the middle of weekly chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.  But before then, I was told by a friend who ministers in inner healing.  She told me that there was some kind of barrier between my mother and myself.  I couldn’t see it, but I was willing to ask the Holy Spirit to help me discover any sin, and to repent of it.  It turned out that I still saw nothing until I was nudged to write a simple email to my mom, asking for her forgiveness.  Tony was using my computer, so I was going to delay, but I then had an urgent nudge to email her on my iPad instead.  As I wrote that I wanted to honour her for all the good things she had done for me, but I also wanted to repent of the sin of dishonouring her.  That’s the word that came to me – dishonour.  We are meant to honour our parents no matter what. So I told her that in my younger years I had judged her for her mistakes, and that was wrong.  She was only trying to do the best she could. I sent off this email, asking for her forgiveness.  She replied very simply, “I forgive you, will you forgive me?”  I was so touched by her gentle response, and from then on, we had no barriers between us; just love.   The disdain that had grown in my heart towards my mother was basically a build-up of daily mistakes and offences.

Please learn from my lesson, and don’t let these bother you for more time than it should.  Don’t let our enemy the devil steal your joy and your peace.  On the day before Mom died, I sent my sister a message on WhatsApp and asked her to relay it verbatim to Mom as a goodbye.  In the message, I thanked Mom for all she had encouraged in me:  my art, writing, missions, travel and more.  I also encouraged her to trust Jesus, since he cares so very much for her.  While my sister is not a believer, she was faithful to read my message verbatim, and she had the opportunity of being with mom when she died.  I hope that she realizes that this was a gift, and that her own grieving process will be lighter because of seeing Mom at the end.  She was still harbouring unforgiveness, and I trust that she is also working through letting that go.  Forgiveness and choosing not to take offence in the first place prevents so much pain. RT Kendall shared with our Harvest School seven principles of forgiveness.

Principle 1 is:  You don’t tell anyone else about what the perpetrator did to you.  Joseph sent away his co-workers before he talked to his family.  Joseph knew that if the Egyptians knew what his brothers did to him, they would be hated.  There are two exceptions to sharing about what someone has done to you.  We need to tell God first, then tell one person for therapeutic reasons. Psalm 142:2 says,  “I pour out before him my complaint;  before him I tell my trouble.”  Telling a counsellor is good, because they are bound not to tell anyone.  The other exception is if the offence is a crime; reporting it to the legal authorities is necessary, to protect others.

RT shared with us that some people turn their sharing into a form of revenge and venting. That’s not forgiveness. He says, “What’s the real reason to tell of the sin against you?  Revenge?  Perhaps anger?  Is it so they’re not liked? That can violate God forgiving you.  Remember the Lord’s prayer and that he has forgiven you.

Principle 2 is not to let them be afraid of you. Joseph’s brothers were afraid, until he calmed them down.  They felt guilty. They were guilty, but they were also forgiven. Joseph just wanted to love them. Otherwise they were nervous.  Like forgiveness, 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that LOVE keeps no record of wrongs. We often keep records to show that we have paid.  Forgiveness pays the offence and throws away the receipt.

RT also reminded us about the importance of forgiveness in everyday life. “Marriages can be healed if both partners stop pointing the finger at each other.”  I believe that if we even stop saying things like ‘you always and you never’ in our speech to each other that it would also not inflame disagreements into hurtful arguments.

Principle 3 is that we want them to forgive themselves. Nine out of ten people we forgive don’t actually know they did wrong.  Does it really help at that time to share what they did to you? It may be part of their own brokenness. Pray and ask God. Also forgive them when they are NOT sorry.  For example, Jesus forgave when he was dying on the cross.  He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Principle 4 is to let them “save face.” This protects their ego.  Joseph says to his brothers – “It was God who sent me first [to Egypt for their survival].”  This shows the big picture, and brings God into the picture.

Principle 5 is to protect them from their darkest secret.  Joseph didn’t want to reveal to his father what his brothers did to him. It would have broken his dad’s heart. He did this for his family’s sake.  This is helpful for sins that would hurt the whole family. There are many cases of families who have been ripped apart by dark sins – including incest, either real or false memories. Does this mean that you would maximize the pain or ignore the pain caused by not sharing widely?  No, by no means!  But it does mean that there needs to be discretion.

Principle 6 reminds us that total forgiveness is a life-long lifestyle. Joseph likely had to forgive them over and over as a process.  It was 17 years from when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, to when they met him again.  Don’t just forgive them once. You may get mad and get bitter again.  The anointing and healing kicks in best when you keep forgiving the perpetrator.

Finally with principle 7, you bless them. When you do this, really mean it.  Pray for them.  After you have this lifestyle of forgiveness, God opens doors of favour for you.  I learned to do this when I was hurt by family members, Christian leaders and friends, whether or not they meant it.  Sometimes we just make mistakes and hurt each other without even realizing it.   When I forgave my dad of his endless teasing, I was set free in my heart.  He was just an insecure man who also needed love.  Since I love and encourage him whenever we speak, he lights up and speaks words of love back.  He no longer teases me.  And the Christian leaders who hurt me never realized that they did.  I even spoke to one and while he apologized, he was amazed that he had actually hurt me.

Finally, I learned something new about forgiveness when I took a debriefing course with LeRucher Ministries in June 2018.  When we forgive, we give God the right to avenge.  He has the justice of setting things right.  If we’ve said we’ve forgiven but we still want harm to come to the offenders, then we haven’t fully forgiven.  But we can do this today.

Lord Jesus, I offer up my friends, and all who are reading this article.  We offer up those who have hurt us and we again forgive.  We give you the right to justice for the offences against us. We ask for you to transform our lives and theirs.  May you bring your deep healing and love. And may we continue to grow in you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on the coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the listen drop-down menu).  Click here (https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/wtgig-podcasts.html) and scroll down to #58!  If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!

Updates:

For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I just finished 16 radiotherapy sessions in Cape Town.  My oncologist is pleased with the results of all the treatments, and I only have three more expensive Herceptin injections left.  The end of the cancer journey is in sight – and it was all done in South Africa.  I’m also in MLD and compression therapy for lymphedema, which is swelling of the lymphatic system.  While we explored that that this condition is a result of the mastectomy surgery, I actually had primary lymphedema in my legs since 2006.  I’m thankful that it was discovered and is being treated by controlling it.  Click here for the medical campaign page for info:

https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/medical-campaign.html

We are still crowdfunding to cover the cancer treatments (we will be almost $2,000 Cdn in debt this week).  If you feel led to contribute, please do so via our paypal:  https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod

L-A’s Colouring BookIf you are in South Africa, and would like to purchase one of Laurie-Ann’s colouring books, they are available at the OliveTree Bookshop in Mountain Mill Shopping Centre (near PicknPay), in Worcester, Western Cape.  You can also buy them at LeRoux and Fourie Wineshop on R60 beside Cape Lime (between Nuy and Robertson), and through Takealot.com through this link:

https://www.takealot.com/colouring-with-jesus/PLID68586424

Bless you and thank you for your support!

Laurie-Ann

Growing in God: How give and receive honour (Honour pt 2)

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During our last article, we learned it’s important to develop a culture of honour.  This means intentionally choosing to honour God, leaders, widows, the vulnerable and everyone we meet.  In earlier teachings we learned about encouragement and blessing. Honour is a BIG part of that.  Honour is choosing to see the potential, the intrinsic value or the hidden gold inside a person. You draw it out of them.  Relationships grow stronger and full of healing when honour is involved.  When we honour and listen to people, it grows your relationship. When we do this with God, it’s very special.   Imagine what would happen if we honour and really listen to our spouse!  No more nagging.  No more need to shut out nagging with half-closed ears. Honour validates.  Dishonour… well, it basically feels like a curse.  That is especially the case with the commandment of honouring your parents.  If you don’t, your life won’t be blessed, or even long-lived.

Tony and I work with children and teens in the townships, as well as some farm children in an area between Worcester and Robertson. Many of these kids don’t understand about honour, and authority.  Some of their parents do, since we’ve often been addressed as tannie and oom.  Our team has been loving on these kids for a year now.  It’s a slow process, since we only see them once a week.  Respect is important and we are earning their respect with being constant.

Yet we also battle a different culture.  How does the Cape Coloured community express honour?  Or the Xhosa?  Or even the Afrikaaners?  We are learning.  Sometimes we have to set aside our Canadian and British sense of honour.  Thankfully there are commonalities.     The language of divine honour is still to hold great value in the people you are with.  Honour actually sustains the human spirit.

We have young teen girls who we have been training to lead Bible studies in Avian Park private homes.  These girls need to honour their hosts, since these venues are opened up for their ministry.  The girls also need to honour the children who are with them.  They would be like big sisters to the children who come to hear stories that will impact their lives.   They need to be consistent in loving them and being there for the younger children.

Years ago, I remember an American prophet who ministered in a Toronto church where I was a parishioner.  His name was Marc Dupont.  He said that just as the medium is the message (a phrase championed by Canadian Marshall McLuhan), so the prophet is the prophecy.  What Marc meant was that whatever you are proclaiming must be shown in your own life.  If you are passionate about spreading the Father God heart of love, then that love must show in your life to others.  If you are to speak about honour, you must model and show honour in your own life. So these girls must show the love of God as big sisters to these kids.  They must also honour the hosts of the house venues where they are ministering.  This is a learning process, and we find that discipling these girls a joy in many ways, yet they need to learn how to honour us as well.    It may take time.  So, we know about establishing a culture of honour. When we honour, it blesses those we honour, but it also blesses us!  This is especially the case of honouring parents, but it also works in honouring everyone.

On the world political scene, the deliberate use of lies and ‘fake news’ to gain political advantage is the very opposite of honouring those who may be standing in the way of a particular objective.  It breaks the rules of classic diplomacy, and it will always in the end worsen the situation.  The attitudes of some leaders have been influenced by the tactics of  thousands of social media users and people attempting to hoodwink as many as possible with urban legends and conspiracy theories.  The whole concept of honour and the value of truth are unknown by such people.

How do we honour?  We start with God.  So how do we honour God?   We honour God with our sincere worship. John records the angels singing in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”   We want to worship God in more ways than songs.   It needs to be a lifestyle where we put him first, and honour him above everything else.  We need to pour out what we do every day to God.  I do that in my art, writing and working with children.  I’m still learning to do that in other ways.  God is interested in all we do – not just the things we do in public.  He’s worth it because he is worthy.

We honour God with our tithes and offerings. Proverbs 3:9 asks us to “Honour the Lordwith your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”  In the law it was about giving him a tenth, and God would multiply the remaining nine tenths. A tithe is a tenth, and the offerings may be above that, for different reasons.  But whether it’s the first ten percent or an offering, it should be the best we have, not what we’re trying to get rid of.  Why give him garbage when he gave us his best?  The prophet Malachi catches some of this dialogue in Malachi 1: 6-8.  Listen to it in the Message version:

“Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me!  “You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’  “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship.  “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’  7-8 “When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

Sometimes we defile others when we give hand-me-downs that aren’t in good condition.  Many people in Canada give their garbage clothes away when they are rags.  There’s a reason why certain charities ask for gently used items.  I remember when I came to Kenya for the first time.  I noticed a stall of used clothes in Nairobi and I was interested.  My co-worker Jeff told me, “those clothes came from North America.”  It’s true – so many of our cast-off items do end up in Africa.  Think of how much longer these clothes would last if they were in better condition.  Some are polluted offerings.  And think, how many times we just give our leftover change to God? It’s not like He’s a parking attendant on the street.

We honour God by keeping the truth and speaking it in love. The enemy has always attacked truth, but now, it is more obvious. Currently, truth is twisted about sexual orientation with much confusion over gender identity.  That’s only one area that’s being re-written in many cultures.  There’s also the fight to proclaim life on both ends of the spectrum: conception and natural death.  We have abortion on demand as if it’s birth control.  We have euthanasia for the expendable of any age.  What happened to loving LIFE?  Instead we have a culture of death.  This is a deception to keep us from the word of God.  It’s not honouring.

The Prophet Isaiah warned us in Isaiah 5:20: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”  Talk about confusing!   Malachi 2: 1-8 also talks about God’s priests teaching lies to seekers, and the dishonour that comes when that happens.  Patricia King says that when you step into honour, you step into blessing. When you step into dishonour, you step into a curse.  These scriptures are a call for the priesthood to speak righteousness that will align people with blessings and honour.  We need to keep God’s word as part of honouring him, especially in a way that reflects God’s heart.

We honour God through obedience. This is obedience to God, but it can also affect how we honour our leaders. The writer of the book of Hebrews advises in Hebrews 13:17 to “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”  Say you’re in a church and the pastor goes into things that are definitely off.  Patricia King has advice on how to handle that.  She says, “If you leave a church due to not feeling comfortable with your decisions, just leave.  Don’t make a fuss. That’s not disobedience. Not making a fuss is actually honouring them. If you do make a fuss, you are cursing your life. It  brings contention, strife and division to that church.

Let’s say that you are in a church and the pastor starts preaching that leaving newborn babies in garbage dumps is fine.  And you’re sitting there, thinking, ‘oh my gosh, that is so not fine.”  In fact, the early church rescued unwanted babies all the time in a stand for life.  So you go and talk with the pastor with respect. You say “pastor, the word says this…  Can you explain to me where you’re getting this from?”  He explains, and you say, “I am so sorry, I love you. But I cannot agree with that. I am not in agreement with it and I cannot support it.  I’m going to be leaving this church. I’m going to be praying for you. I’m not going to be speaking evil against you, but I need to speak the truth in love.”  So you leave, but you do it in honour, not dishonour. God’s going to look after that.  We need to honour God’s truth but in a way that isn’t dishonouring either.

Here’s another example. Say your employer wants you to do something that’s wrong. Nicky Gumbel tells a story on Alpha about Gimbo, a man who refused to lie on the phone for his employer, Harrods. He was asked to tell the caller that his boss was out and Gimbo refused.  When the boss got off the phone, he was angry; but Gimbo replied, “If I can lie for you, I can lie TO you.  And I won’t ever do that.”  From then on, Gimbo became the most trusted employee in that company.  Gimbo honoured his boss.

And now to honour others.  How do we honour them?  Here’s some things that will help you.  Look for the good in each other.  Celebrate each other.  I remember helping people in a divorce recovery workshop back in the 90’s.  Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that these hurting people needed not only to forgive, but they needed to honour their former spouses.  As well as any potential new spouses!  When Tony and I married, we included mutual encouragement in our vows.  We could have included honour as well.  But the core is to look for the good in each other and celebrate that.  Don’t speak bad about them to other people, although sometimes you may have to acknowledge issues to work through in private.

And then there are the people that seem to rub you the wrong way.  It may just be a cultural difference or a personality quirk.  So don’t look at that one thing that drives you crazy.  Look for things that you can honour.  Look for things you can celebrate. You can always find SOMETHING to celebrate in that person.  Look at their intrinsic value – what they have inside.

One way to honour is to celebrate birthdays.  In our Worcester church, they post the names of all the people who have a birthday that week. A leader then shares a word of encouragement to the birthday people.  I celebrated a birthday during Harvest School in northern Mozambique, and I was showered all day with love, songs, cake and more. I think it was my favourite birthday.   Those were acts of honour.  Then there’s mother’s day and father’s day. You come to church and they honour parents on their day.  I’ve received flowers and chocolate and Tony’s received fishing birdies, chocolate and biltong. Those days are an opportunity to honour each other.  It’s one thing I like about Facebook – it reminds you of your friend’s birthdays!  It’s easy to honour on a birthday. Could we choose to honour on the other days of the year?

Last week we talked about honouring our parents. You can also honour your children. If you are a parent, aunt, uncle or children’s worker, you can speak life into these kids. Recognize the unique way that God has created them to be. Allow them to be who they are.  Don’t compare them with their siblings.  Listen to their ideas and tell them that you’re proud of them. Tony and I honour our girls by encouraging them to say what they love about each other.  This is becoming a regular exercise.  They are beginning to respond, and last week, Bella decided that she would say what she loved about us.  The previous week, the girls told me that they loved the way I loved them.  Bella told me that the first time I welcomed her to our home, she felt loved and all warm inside.  She’s come to think of me as a second mother and she told me she loved me.  Then she turned to Tony. She told him that she loved him also, and said that he was kind, full of respect for people and that he is there for them.   Wow, we really felt honoured by Bella, who has such a gift of encouragement and teaching.

We can honour each other by preferring them over ourselves.  One way to do this is to be generous.  There are so many ways to do that.  Sometimes gifts are helpful, other moments need acts of service.

We can honour each other by speaking well of them in public as well as private.  This includes when the person is not even there – it’s not done for effect to impress that person.  But even then, some people can honour publicly but dishonour them in private. Patricia King says that “sometimes we’ll say something nice about a person because it’s right to do. But then we’ll go talk to someone else in negativity about them, and that’s dishonouring.  That cancels out your honour. You want to have honour on every side.”

We can honour someone by giving them a special personal gift, like the Queen of Sheba did to Solomon. Don’t you feel honoured when someone gives you a gift? It’s like wow, they were thinking of me!   This is what I tried to do when I drew some of our kids club children in a drawing with Jesus.  One of the girls was amazed and said with wonder, “Wow, you thought of me??  Jesus was also thinking of me?”  That reaction made it all worthwhile.  She received the love and felt honoured.

We can honour by caring for others – especially widows and the vulnerable.  Sometimes they need a little offering to them to give them hope and a sense of value.  It’s beautiful.

Honour is also something that can be culturally sensitive.  It requires awareness and a gentleness to go carefully when you approach someone.  Honour is something that is easier if we deal with the junk in our hearts.  The junk includes unforgiveness, pride and conflict.  If these things are not dealt with in our lives, they can lead to the very opposite of honour.  They will further fragment broken relationships, cause wounded hearts, inequality, pain and fear.

Forgiveness is something that arose again and again in Rob Packer’s book The Life-Giving Power of Honour, as well as Danny Silk’s book Developing a Culture of Honour.  Forgiveness is powerful. I’ve watched healing happen through the lives of those forgiving and the forgiven.   Anglican pastor Dale Lang publicly forgave the school shooter who killed his son back in 1999.  Dale ministers to other families who have endured similar suffering and he brings forgiveness and love into the equation.  He’s able to honour them, since he knows the pain, and he also knows that bitterness and unforgiveness is a trap.

It’s too easy to not forgive if you feel you have been dishonoured.  This can happen with friends and family who may have become too familiar with you. They may not even recognize they are dishonouring you. Proverbs 18:19 says that “it is harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city.”  I know this truth personally.

Years back, I made a cultural error with a female Japanese pastor I was friends with at the time. When you are in a Japanese home, you must take your shoes off as a sign of respect and honour.  I always did this, except for one time, where I just wasn’t thinking.  I brought over another friend to introduce to this lady, and I was focused on my other friend, rather than my hostess.  I forgot to take off my shoes.  She became extremely upset with me, shooed me out, and never spoke to me again.  While I apologized deeply and sincerely for my momentary lapse, this was not enough.  I grieved the loss of the friendship, and I never forgot this lesson on honour.  When Tony and I took a tour of our South African rental home, the then-current tenants were from South Korea.  They also showed honour by taking off their shoes, but they offered honour to us by offering little sockettes to cover our feet.  So we complied and smiled at them.

So when you honour, remember that honour grows nobility in people.   Honour is humility in action. It’s the very opposite of pride that isolates you into a prison of self.  Kris Valloton says that “for a Christian, honour is a condition of the heart, not just the product of a good environment.”

Today we’ve journeyed on how to honour others.  There’s so much to learn, but along the path, I’ve hinted at times on how we receive honour.  Since honour is relational, it usually is returned back.  On our next broadcast we’ll discover more about how to receive or obtain honour.   Because we are God’s creations, we have special value inside. And when we come to faith, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Look for the gold in each other and choose to honour.

Lord, I ask you to help us learn to honour others.  Help us to honour you and to learn the importance of honour. Open our eyes to see the beauty in others, whether they are family, friends, or complete strangers.  May we be instruments in healing where dishonour has wounded souls, as you are healing us.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #37

Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann

PS for any of you who pray – I was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer here in South Africa.  We will need to go back to Canada after the chemotherapy treatments are done, to continue treatment in Ottawa.  Please keep us in prayer for healing and finances.  We are crowdfunding, since insurance won’t cover this, and we are already missionaries living by faith.

Our medical campaign page is here for financial contribution info, medical story info and prayer points: Copple Medical page.