Saturday, June 04, 2005

Stop the Pain! Part 2

"Forgiveness – the act of excusing or pardoning others in spite of their slights, shortcomings, and errors. As a theological term, forgiveness refers to God’s pardon of the sins of human beings."

How do you forgive the unforgivable?

May I suggest that you follow the example of A God who forgives? One who has and will never ask of us, what He hasn't done Himself, for He was fully God, yet fully man. He experienced every bit of agonizing pain the cross-offered, but still, His love for us superseded that of His pain, while He took time out to see to our forgiveness.

During His ministry, the question was asked, how often should I forgive…7 x 7? The answer was 70 x 7. I’m sure right now someone is thinking, but if I keep forgiving, they’ll keep on doing it! Maybe, but our forgiveness is dependent on our forgiving others. Even as we go to pray, if it comes to mind that we haven’t forgiven someone, we are to stop praying and forgive, in order to avoid any hindrance to our communication with God.

Unforgiveness hinders our communication with God? It most surely does. To remain unforgiving, you have to nurse the hurt, recall it quite frequently, harden your heart. In essence you slowly poison yourself with bitterness. The bitterness acts as a wall between God and us.

Why do we need to forgive?

Two reasons:

Matthew 6:14: which states “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;”
Romans 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Which means that no matter how big or small the disobedience, the punishment is death. Right about here, we get comfortable, because we’re confident in the fact that we love God, haven’t murdered, raped, committed adultery, blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, robbed a bank, embezzled funds or run over anyone with our car. Which is all good, but don’t get too comfortable just yet. If you’ve never told a lie, been envious, run a red light, stolen a quarter from your parents, jaywalked, listened to gossip, failed to return a library book, cheated, or disobeyed God in any way; if you’ve done everything you were ever supposed to do every single time…then you have no need to forgive. But for the rest of us, the following are some practical steps towards the process of forgiveness:
Choice -- Decide you are going to forgive
Love –Allow love to continue flowing – don’t shut down or close yourself off
Faith -- Realize that we forgive by faith, not by feeling: Utilizing faith allows us to act as if a thing is so, in order that it may become so. In other words…you may start out faking it, but your genuine desire to act on your faith will connect you to God’s store of faith for you.
Obedience--We must forgive others if we don’t want to disobey God and break our fellowship with Him. As Christ forgave us without being asked we may need to forgive others who have not nor will ever ask our forgiveness. The forgiveness may be undeserved, but the reward of healing and reconciliation makes it worthwhile.
Forget --You must be willing to forget past hurts. Forget about it. Stop willfully calling it to mind. Or if it does come to mind consciously replace it with a good memory or find something positive you learned out of the bad memory. You may even want to print out some scriptures dealing with forgiveness like Matt. 6:14, Romans 6:23 on an index card and carry it around with you, to whip out when needed.
Prayer – Pray for the offender, a biggie, I know
Turnover -- Give the hurt to God. Resolve to let it go.
I think the hardest thing for me to get about forgiveness is that it wasn’t about me, it’s about obedience to God and in my obedience I reap the reward of being released from the yoke of my hurt. I had to realize that accepting grace meant I had to be responsible enough to show grace myself. I had to remind myself of how I felt when I discovered that no matter what I had done previously, God still loves me. Or if you can’t relate, I reminded myself that no matter what a screwup I was or still am at times, my family loves me.

Forgiveness is about passing on that kind of revelation, to others who have no concept of it themselves.

Maybe you’re on the top of someone’s feces list and you feel the weight of their unforgiveness. Or maybe you’re sitting there feeling the weight of the unforgiveness you have towards yourself, because sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

No worries, the only sin God will not forgive is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is giving Satan credit for acts of God, accomplished by the Holy Spirit. This sin is unpardonable, not because God cannot or will not forgive such a sin but because such a hard-hearted person has placed Himself beyond the possibility of repentance and faith.

If you’re one who’s never accepted the forgiveness/salvation/justification/love of God. Trapped in the notion that you’re not worthy of forgiveness, because folks have told you repeatedly that you’re nothing, you’ve been nothing and you’ll never amount to anything and somewhere along the line, you started believing them. Or if you have accepted and got a little sidetracked and feel that you’ve tracked too far to return.

I’m here to assure you today that God is A God who forgives! He is clear when He states that He came not for those who “have their acts together” but He came for the screwups, like you and I. His forgiveness is available to all who would choose to receive it.

Three steps:

1) Repent
2) believe it
3) receive it!

He meets you at the point of your need. As you step forward, He’s ready and willing to embrace you to His bosom, He’s the shepherd who will leave the whole flock undone, searching out the one mislaid sheep.

Peace,
Dee

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