“And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:12-13 (NIV)
Before the spread of the digital age, there was an annoying correspondence that presented itself as a pleasant surprise in your mailbox - the chain letter. Although it looked like an invitation or endearing letter from a pen pal it was, in fact, a manipulation to take a certain action to ensure an amazing blessing. Its downside included that those who broke the chain not only missed the extraordinary miracle but were also subject to the threat of dire circumstances. All this sent to you at the hand of a friend?!
The cursed chain mail has morphed to fit into today’s times. It is found on news sites, media posts, and in office conversations where opinions are glorified and detractions are cut down and equated with the inability to contribute effectively to business. We either agree or you’re out. In today’s critical culture, it is becoming more and more acceptable to rehearse another’s faults, hold a grudge and just act mean because we have become chained with others who are offended by the same groups or actions we are. We stir each other’s animosity and blood pressures soar. Be aware, this is a spiritual trap for our souls! And it desires to bind others into this unhealthy place of bondage through our words, too.
“Ouch!” you say. Do you think you may have fallen into this trap? There’s good news. The Lord Jesus is not surprised and has made the way for your return to freedom. He has provided the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin, inspire repentance, and allow you to help others who have fallen in this way, too.
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us of the greatness of our God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can conceive. I’ve seen Him move to break this chain mail bondage of unforgiveness in my own family, removing one link at a time in quick succession to set captives free. It all started with the obedience of one new saint to send letters asking for forgiveness for unkind behaviors in childhood. Though it seemed silly and unnecessary, I spoke forgiveness when asked. That’s when chains started to break! Three siblings were saved and two started a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. A temptation for drug usage was eradicated, and a new family bond was developed with a stepmother that opened the way for my little sister to attend a children’s camp with me where she received salvation. The rivers of ministry in our family, long dammed up, began to flow and it all started with a simple letter acknowledging wrong behavior and asking for forgiveness. The chain mail was broken! Captives received freedom! Christ’s joy was made full!
David showed great wisdom in Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV): “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We all need the broader scope of wisdom and clarity that the Holy Spirit brings us as He reveals what is in our hearts. Take time regularly to ask for help in understanding your heart. Quickly repent when you are shown sinful ways and unforgiveness. Ask others to forgive you when led by the Holy Spirit. The Lord deeply desires to help you maintain your freedom!
[As adapted from The Bondage Breaker and Stomping Out The Darkness by Dr. Neil Anderson and Dr. Dave Park.]