Several years back my wife and I went to Sunday lunch with the pastor of the church we were attending at the time. The restaurant was bustling with an after-church crowd.
Then we saw a couple sitting on the other side of the restaurant along its large plate-glass window.
I don’t think they saw us, but I watched the pastor’s eyes immediately fix on them.
They had attended his church several months earlier and had left offended. Though gone they were now accusing the pastor of all sorts of things, that simply weren’t true.
These accusations had made their way back to the pastor and here they were sitting probably 70 feet away and it was obvious their presence was distracting him as I watched him repeatedly glance over.
I had no idea what was going on in his mind.
The couple had finished their meal and I watched as the waitress walked over to their table and dropped off the bill. As soon as that happened, the pastor pushed back his chair and stood up.
He walked over and began talking to the couple.
I was too far away to hear the conversation, but from my distance it seemed awkward but cordial. After they were finished talking, the pastor suddenly reached down, picked up their bill and walked over to the till and paid for their meal.
The couple sat stunned.
Jesus said if someone takes your cloak, then give them your shirt also — giving is an act of forgiveness (Matthew 5:40).
There is no good news story here of the couple returning to the church and a glorious reunion.
It was an act that the pastor had to perform for his own sake.
There are certain activities that make Christians vulnerable to satanic attack. One of them is refusing to forgive someone who has offended you.
According to the Apostle Paul failing to forgive makes you vulnerable to Satan’s “mind games.”
In his second letter to Corinthians, Paul writes:
10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASV)
Earlier in verse five, Paul mentions that some one had caused him pain, probably a personal attack, and as a result Paul had to forgive that person.
Many believe it was related to an incident that Paul had cited in his first letter to the Corinthians where a man was living with his dad’s wife. Paul had told the church to deal with the situation (I Corinthians 5).
Because the church was overlooking the sin, it suggests the man involved had friends in the Corinthian church. When Paul came down strongly against the sin, some reacted and probably personally attacked Paul, perhaps even questioning his authority over their congregation.
Paul said he needed to forgive the person who attacked him, because if he didn’t, Satan would be able to take advantage of him.
The Greek word for advantage is a really long Greek word “pleonektethomen” and it means as the NASV translates it to outwit but also includes the idea of defrauding someone, taking advantage or exploiting.
It means to convince a person that a lie is the truth and in the process robbing them — spiritually or otherwise.
Then Paul zeroes in on the area of the attack saying we must be aware of the “schemes” (Greek noemata) that means simply mind or thoughts.
When we don’t forgive Satan begins to play “mind games” with you. You are vulnerable to believing strange things about God — that He hates you or loves others more than you.
You can become tormented by past mistakes and things you have done wrong. Because there is a chink in your armor, Satan can take advantage of this weakness and bombard your mind with thoughts.
I sometimes wonder if this is the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) that Paul tells us to put on as part of our spiritual armor.
The helmet protects our mind and we put it on by being quick to forgive those who have offended us.
When we fail to forgive, we are vulnerable to satanic head blows.