While preparing this message I came across a poem by Bernard F. Asuncion titled, “Let the love remain”:
Let the love remain
You can let it be
Never let it end nor lose its glory
Make the love remain
Even though others diminish
Never let it fade and never let if vanish
Regardless of the weather do it right shine or rain
Jacob and Esau
You know the story of Jacob and Esau. They were twins. Twins are very close. In our context, they wear the same clothes and shoes; eat from the same bowl; and even sleep on the same bed. Hence, we see that they love each other. But the Bible says one day Esau was hungry and Jacob had red stew but Jacob asked for Esau’s birthright before giving him some of the food. Because Esau did not value his birthright, he exchanged it for his brother’s food.
As if that was not enough, one day when Isaac was very old, he called Esau and told him to go to the field to get him meat to prepare him his favorite food so he would eat and bless him. Rebekah heard it, called Jacob, and told him to go fetch two young goats so she would prepare food for Isaac so he would eat and bless him instead. Initially, Jacob was not in favor of the idea because his skin was smooth while his brother’s was hairy and he was afraid his father would realize the deceit and bring a curse upon him but Rebekah convinced Jacob to do as she commanded and said, “let the curse come upon me.”
So Jacob dressed with the fur of the goats and wore Esau’s clothes. When he went to Isaac, Isaac remarked, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” (Genesis 27.22 KJV) However, he ate the food and blessed Jacob. Later, Esau returned from the field with the food he had prepared but his father said someone else had already come for the blessing. Esau wept bitterly and vowed to kill his brother after his father’s death. (Genesis 27.41)
At that point hatred had replaced love. When Rebekah heard that Esau was planning to kill Jacob, he told him to leave and go to her brother Laban. After living with Laban for many years, Jacob decided to come back to his father’s house. He prepared to meet his brother because he knew he had offended him. For love to remain, those who have offended their neighbors must take steps to receive forgiveness and those who have been offended must forgive.
Jacob took steps to receive forgiveness from his brother. First, he sent a servant to his brother to inform him of his intention to return home. Isaac, in his blessing, had made Jacob master over Esau but when Jacob was sending the message to Esau he sent a gift of livestock saying they were from him, a servant, to Esau, whom he called lord. That was humility.
When you know that you have offended your brother, sister, husband, or wife, don’t overlook it. Take steps to receive forgiveness. Take steps like Jacob did. He told his servant who was sending the message not to forget to tell Esau that the gift was from his servant Jacob who was preparing to meet him.
Jacob was afraid. In great fear he divided the people into two groups. Maybe he thought, “If Esau kills one group, the other will survive.” He also prayed to God to deliver him from the hands of his brother Esau. When you know you have offended someone, pray to God to find favor in the eyes of the person.
He also selected a gift from his possessions for Esau. The Bible says that Jacob looked up and saw his brother with 400 men approaching. When he saw that, he divided the family again into three groups—the servants and their children in front, Leah and her children after them, and then Rachel and Joseph behind them. We don’t know why he did it that way but he then went ahead so I don’t think his intention was to protect himself and his loved ones from impending danger. If that were the case, he would have stayed behind.
While approaching his brother, he bowed down seven times. He had prayed, humbled himself, and shown remorse. The Bible says that Esau ran to meet his brother and embraced him, kissed him and they wept. So the lesson we should learn from this is that we should prepare ourselves to receive forgiveness from God and man.
God’s love is always available and he is ever-ready to forgive
The agape love pastor spoke about last week is available to the extent that you receive it. The Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son so the love is available. As a Christian you know the behavior in which you are engaged and you know how you wouldn’t want your pastor or anyone to see it. It means it is wrong but God sees everything. We must take steps to receive forgiveness from God. Sometimes you do it and feel so bad but you go back to it. If you look at the process Jacob went through to receive forgiveness, you can see that it was a long process. It is a long process to receive forgiveness from man and sometimes, even after that long process, they won’t forget. But to receive forgiveness from God is easy. The Bible says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9)
I heard a preacher say that the problems we have has nation are created by the 72% of us who are Christians. If you know as a Christian that the behavior you are engaged in does not please God, I urge you to take steps to receive forgiveness from him. You know that you have offended your brother, husband, wife so take steps to receive forgiveness. How can it be that you are not talking to your wife for a long time and you know there is something wrong and yet do nothing? Take steps to receive forgiveness.
The fact is that when you offend someone you know it. When you know it, take steps to receive forgiveness. Like Jacob did, pray about it. The heart of every man is in the hands of God so pray for him to touch the person’s heart. The Bible says that if you think your brother has offended you, you the one who has been offended should go to your brother and try to resolve the matter. When you know the relationship has changed, for example, if you used to be very close friends but it is no longer the case, take steps to resolve the issues between you.
The question is, “Has somebody offended you to the extent that Jacob offended his brother?” First, he took Esau’s birthright and then his blessings. If the answer is yes then forgive because Jacob forgave. Has somebody offended you to the extent that the brothers of Joseph offended him and changed his destiny? Joseph later became a governor and they later came to him and called him lord. He had the opportunity to destroy them but he didn’t.
Has somebody offended you to the extent that he was pursuing you to take your life? That was what Saul did to David but David said God should be the judge between him and Saul. David saw the battle as the Lord’s so even if somebody is pursuing your life, I urge you to forgive because David forgave.
Offence can be very painful but when you hold on to the pain you are only destroying yourself. You should let God come in as holding on to the pain will not change anything. Let God become a judge between you and that person.
In April 2017 I shared part of this testimony with my Bible study group. I was the president of the association in the estate in which I lived and a man I considered my mentor, father, and everything was my secretary. After I had served one term, I convinced him to become the vice-president of the association.
One day we decided to fix the roads in the estate. We paid a contractor to do it but after paying him he said there was a part he had left out of the original estimate so we had to give him an extra 15,000 cedis for that. However, the contractor did not do the work so I went with this man to take the money from him. We took the money in an envelope and brought it to the man’s house to check it. I wanted to take it to the bank but he wanted to keep it so I left it with him. At another time I offered to take it to the bank but he didn’t seem ready so I stopped asking him about it.
The new president of the association sent me a text asking where I had put the money. I wondered why he would ask me and not his vice-president—the man with whom I had gone for the money, who was also the one keeping it. Interestingly, he had asked already asked the vice-president and he had said the money was not with him.
I also called him but he said the money as not with him and that if I pushed him he would call on the gods to deal with me.
He had told people in the estate all sorts of things about me so we decided to have a meeting with him. During the meeting, he presented his case so convincingly, alluding to his service in the military and how he had served with distinction. He concluded, “Young man, don’t play with me because your children are young.” So I decided to pay the money but before I gave them the check, I remarked that sometimes people play with Christians because they do not know the power we have but I know the truth will come out.
I prayed for one month, then two months but nothing happened. I prayed for God to do something but nothing happened. I told God to help me forgive this man. When I saw him I could greet him but there was something missing. I could see him going around and nothing had happened to him. I always passed in front of his house and could see that nothing had happened to him so I stopped praying about it.
In December 2017, I got a WhatsApp message. It was a message from Rev. Eastwood Anaba talking about love and how God had loved us and how Jesus, after we had treated him so badly still forgave us, loved us, and is still interceding for us at the right hand of the father. The message went further to say that as we were in December, we should not carry offences over to the new year—2018. So I picked my phone and sent the man a Christmas and New Year message. When he got the message he replied that he was in the US so he was going to get in touch when he returned.
Offence is such that, it is the people who are closest to you who can offend you. When the person is not close it is not painful. This man was my mentor, father, and everything. After the meeting where the man made his case, KB, who was also in the meeting told me he was confused because he did not know who was telling the truth. Even my wife asked me “TK, are you sure you didn’t put the money in the car?”
The man returned around March and, for the first time, when I met him, I could see that the pain was gone. I shook his hand and we had a long conversation. Later, we had another meeting; it was on a Sunday. That day I traveled to the US. When I got to the airport—JFK—I got a text message that the man said he had found the money. After one year he had found the money. He said he wanted to give it to my wife but I asked her not to take it. I wanted us to go to the same forum where he had presented his case so my name could be cleared.
The point is that if you continue to hold on to the pain, God will not come in. The moment I forgave him and knew I had forgiven him, the money came. Interestingly I was considering moving from that estate. If I hadn’t got the money before leaving, my name would have been destroyed forever. So I want to urge you that though it is painful, let it go. Once you let it go, God will come in. Even if the person has destroyed your name, God will restore it. The reason for Christmas is love—how God loved us and gave us Jesus Christ his son. In the same way I acted on the message I read, I urge you to forgive. If someone has offended you and you are no longer on speaking terms, please take action to forgive the person. And if you know you have offended someone, take steps to receive forgiveness.
Genesis 32.1-24, Genesis 33.1-12