Two other portions of the Word speak about God’s governmental hand: Matthew 6:15 and 18:23-35. One very important thing can be found in these verses—do not condemn others easily. This is a very serious matter! If you criticize others lightly, the same criticism will fall back upon you. In whatever matter you do not forgive or excuse others, the same matter will come back to haunt you! This surely has to do with God’s governmental hand. The Lord said that if you do not forgive others of their sins, God will also not forgive you of your sins. This refers to governmental forgiveness. This forgiveness is different from other kinds of forgiveness. Matthew 18:35 uses the phrase My heavenly Father. The fact that a person can call God Father proves that the matter of eternal forgiveness with him has long been settled. If a brother offends such a one, and that one does not forgive his brother, God will not forgive him either. His governmental hand will come. Learn to be a generous and forgiving person! Learn to be generous to others and learn always to forgive. If you keep complaining about the conduct of others and continue to count the ill treatment you receive from them, please bear in mind that this will bring you into God’s governmental hand and it will not be easy to come out! God will put you deeper into the hole. If you are severe toward others, God will also be severe toward you. When the slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii, he seized him and took him by the throat. When his lord found out about this, he was unhappy with the slave. He delivered the slave to the torturers until the slave paid all that he owed (18:23-35). He would not be released until he paid all that he owed. God disciplined the unforgiving slave. God’s governmental hand was upon him, and he could not easily get away.
We should not only be generous in forgiving others but also avoid criticizing or speaking about others in a light way. Please bear in mind that our criticism and careless comments about others often becomes a judgment upon ourselves. Then what will we do? When a brother deals harshly with others, we often find the Lord’s discipline swiftly catching up with him. Perhaps he easily becomes sick. Sometimes a person may make a remark about someone’s troublesome children, saying, "See how God’s hand is always on this person." But after some time, the same thing happens to the one who criticized. What do we do when this happens? Brothers, I hope that we will learn to fear God’s governmental hand. We have to learn to fear God. We have to be careful with our words, for many things can happen to us as a result of our careless words.
I can tell you today that the Christian life is a life of learning God’s government. As Christians, we may live many years on earth. During these years God puts us under His training and teaches us the lesson of His discipline. We must not call ourselves children of God yet refuse to yield ourselves to His discipline. Please bear in mind that no one should criticize or speak about anything in a light way. I hope we will pick up the habit of shunning idle things and idle talk. Learn to be godly persons. It is not wise to incur God’s governmental judgment. It is very serious and sobering. We should be careful not to take other people’s affairs upon ourselves. Whatever we lightly condemn about others will soon become a condemnation upon us. We reap what we sow. This is something very real among God’s children. I hope that we will learn to be generous persons in the eyes of God. The wise ones are the generous ones. The more generous we are to others, the more generous God will be to us. I know what I am talking about. If we are mean and severe to our brothers, God will also be mean and severe to us. You must learn to be kind, loving, and generous to your brothers. Give others liberty in many things. Stop all idle talk and criticism. When others are in trouble, it is the time for us to help them, not the time for us to criticize them.
Please bear in mind that the Jews will be tormented and imprisoned during the end time. They will have no clothes and nothing to eat. The sheep will be the ones who will visit them in prison, who will give them clothes when they are naked, and who will give them food when they hunger. These charitable acts will give them the ground to receive grace. We must not say that since God has ordained that they go through persecution and suffering, we will do our part by adding suffering to them. God indeed has ordained the suffering, but we must be generous to them. We cannot say that we will add more sufferings to them because God has ordained their persecution and affliction. Governmental discipline is God’s concern. God’s children in this age must learn to always treat people generously and compassionately. If we do this, the Lord will forgive us in many things.
There are many brothers who have fallen miserably today for one reason only—they have criticized others too severely in the past. Many of their weaknesses today are the very weaknesses they criticized in the past. God will not let such matters go easily! We must be generous toward others if we want to avoid God’s governmental hand! May we learn to love and forbear one another. We must always ask God for mercy in dealing with our foolishness and weakness, both in our walk and in everything we do. We do not want to fall into His governmental hand! We must look to God’s mercy again and again. We must learn to realize that we live by God’s wisdom! We must say to God, "I am a foolish man. Everything I do results in nothing but foolishness. I can do nothing. If I fall into Your governmental hand, I will not be able to bear it. Be merciful to me!" The more pliable and humble we are, the easier it will be for us to be delivered from our afflictions. The more arrogant, stubborn, and self-assured we are, the harder it will be for us to come out of them. Therefore, we must learn to humble ourselves.
Should we fall into God’s governmental hand, for any reason great or small, the last thing we should do is rebel. Rebellion is foolishness! There is only one principle we can act upon when we fall into God’s hand; that is, to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. If we truly humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, He will relieve and release us "in due time." When God feels that events have run their course, He will let us go. I would like to draw attention to the words in due time. First Peter 5:6 says, "Therefore be humbled under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time." The emphasis here is in due time. God will open a way for us in due time. He will direct us to a straight path in due time. He will release us in due time, and He will exalt us in due time.
The mighty hand of God in this verse specifically refers to the matter of discipline. His hand here is not for protection. If it were for protection, the verse would say, "The eternal arm of God." Here we are the ones who humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. This implies obedience. Here is God’s mighty hand. We cannot shake off such a hand! We cannot resist it. Instead, we must learn to humble ourselves under it by saying, "Lord! I am willing to obey. I will not resist You no matter where You put me. I accept everything, and I accept it willingly! I have nothing to say about the way You are treating me. I am willing to obey Your word! No matter how long You keep me in this condition, I am willing to obey!" Then we will see that there is a "due time." We do not know how long it will be. But at a certain time, the Lord will let us go, and He will move the church to pray for us and release us.
May we all know God’s government from the very beginning. Many problems develop because men are ignorant of God’s government. I hope that God’s children will know His government from the first day, the first year, of their Christian life. If they do, they will be able to go on in a very proper way.
(New Believers Series: Governmental Forgiveness #18, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)