Spiritually speaking, one cannot fight fire with fire. However in the natural, when firemen battle wild and ranging forest fires they have several methods of fighting against the threat. Some use a method known as Fuel Reduction and others use Back Burning. Fuel reduction is the targeted burning of bushland to control fire behavior. The idea is to reduce the intensity of subsequent fires at the same place by removing fine surface fuels such as leaf litter. Reducing these hazards increases the window of opportunity for fire fighters to control bushfires. Back burning is a technique utilized in controlled burning and during wildfire events. While controlled burns utilize back burning during planned fire events to create a “black line”, back burning or backfiring is also done to stop a wildfire that is already in progress. Back burning is a way of reducing the amount of flammable material during a controlled burn or wildfire by starting small fires along a man made or natural firebreak in front of a main fire front. It is called back burning because the small fires are designed to ‘burn back towards the main fire front’ and are usually burning and traveling against ground level winds.
So as it is in the natural, there is also an advantage to getting ahead of a fast moving spiritual inferno known as offense. Offense is nothing more than a tool of the devil. This fire is flamed by whispers which breed insecurity, anxiety and a false sense of self. Jesus mentions the only retardant effective enough to extinguish the flames of offense in a person’s heart is F-O-R-G-I-V-E-N-E-S-S. In the book of Matthew chapter 18 beginning at verse 21 through 35, we are given a front row seat to a conversation between Jesus and one of his disciples, Peter concerning a matter of his own heart. Remarkably, Jesus answers him with what appears to be the only solution to his heart problem.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything. The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Notice Peter mentions, a sister or a brother which was in reference to a fellow believer in Christ who has wronged him personally. This was a conversation about how to deal with offense in the church not with in the world. Peter was dealing with offense in his heart from a fellow believer, and who better to go to for counsel than Jesus himself? Offense is like the raging forest fire that consumes the wilderness known as the human heart. Biblically speaking, the heart is identified by Jesus as deceitful and desperately sick. In Jeremiah 17:9-10 he states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord, search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Nothing else will work to extinguish offense except forgiveness. Forgiveness and Offense are two reactions or deeds that man is capable of choosing from. When hurt or disappointed, one often chooses to accept offense as the viable response even though forgiveness is another option. Our deeds bear just as much fruit as our words. Both have the power to build up or tear apart. Forgiveness is a byproduct of love and as such the one who sent offense as a tool has no response to love. Offense is the only fire you can not fight with fire. You’ll lose and lose greatly! Start your back burn today by extinguish the flames with intentional forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit exposes the real source of those flames and offer you advice on how to quench them permanently. He is willing and able to trace back to the beginning of your life if necessary simply to free your heart of sickness and deception. Life with Jesus is a life of healing and hope. It is one of happiness and joy. Chose life over death by freeing yourself through the act of FORGIVENESS today.