Have you heard about the place Beluthahatchee?  When a woman accusingly reminds her man of something in the past, he replies, ‘I thought that was in Beluthahatchee.’ Or a person may say to another, to dismiss some matter, “Oh, that’s in Beluthahatchee.” “Beluthahatchee” as defined by noted author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) is a mythical “Florida Shangri-la, where all unpleasantness is forgiven and forgotten.”

     

Indeed there are places on this planet earth like Shangri-La in its beauty.  It’s like the Garden of Eden, with pristine beauty, remote and exotic utopia; a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility.  However, there is no place like Beluthahatcee, where all unpleasantness is forgiven and forgotten.  Because when people start to inhabit “Shangri-La” sooner or later problems arises in their interpersonal relationships with each other.

People in a place like Shangri-La would start exhibiting the characteristics described by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV): But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

The apostle Paul enumerated 19 ugly descriptions of people living in the last days.  Though these characteristics are cataloged under the auspices of a prediction about “the last days,” it is clear that Paul considered them to be already present then in Ephesus, and for that matter present in any age or epoch of human history.

Unforgiving (aspondoi) means the state of a lack of forgiveness.  They are those who are unwilling to be reconciled to others when there is a variance – implacable.  Implacable – This word properly denotes those who will not be reconciled where there is a quarrel; or who pursue the offender with unyielding revenge. It denotes an unforgiving temper or spirit.

For example: The North American Indians have given the most striking manifestation of this that the world has known. It is well known that among them, neither time nor distance will obliterate the memory of an offense; and that the avenger will pursue the offender over hills and streams, and through heat or snow, happy if he may at last, though at the expiration of years, bury the tomahawk in the head of his victim, though it it may be at the expense of his own life.

Four of the many Indian tribes. (If you are interested to know more about the various tribes of Native Americans, go to http://www.facts-about.org.uk/tribes-native-americans/index.htm.)

     

In the Philippines, there is saying in Tagalog language “Lintik lang ang walang ganti!”  It means it is only the lightning that you can’t exact revenge.  Filipinos has a tendency to exact revenge at all costs to the one who has done them wrong.  More of an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth mentality.  Among the Filipino people there is a natural dislike and animosity between the different groups of people in Luzon, Visayas, and those in Mindanao.  There is also blood feud–a bitter, continuous hostility, especially between the tribes, between clans, between two families, etc., often lasting for many years or generations.

It is interesting that the apostle made mentioned of UNFORGIVING as the 10th ugly description that characterizes people in the end time.  The number ten signifies judgment.  So we are being judge already guilty if we have an unforgiving spirit.

If we have an unforgiving spirit toward a person who wronged us as if we have handcuffed ourselves with that person.  That person is always with us inseparably like a Siamese twins.  Whenever we sleep, the person sleeps with us.  Wherever we go that person tags along.  Whenever we rehash or recount the offense done us, we don’t hurt the one who is guilty, but we hurt ourselves all the more.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said in his online sermon: “There are two problems that do great psychological, emotional, and spiritual damage on us: one is guilt; the other is bitterness. Guilt imprisons us; bitterness poisons us. Forgiveness is the answer both. Forgiveness sets the prisoner free. When you truly forgive from your heart, you set two prisoners free; one of them is you.”

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B. Smedes

So the only way to be set free from the shackles and handcuffs that bind us together with the person who wronged us is to forgive him.  Life is too short to spend it in misery because we are holding onto grudges.

The apostle Paul gives us a compelling reason we are to forgive others.  He wrote in Ephesians 4:32Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Paul says we are to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us.  We are to forgive others exactly the same manner we are forgiven by God.  How God in Christ forgiven us of our sins?  Here then is the arithmetic–the mathematical equation, addition and summation–of God’s forgiveness.

(To be continued)

 

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