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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

forgiveness...

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." -Matthew 18:21-22
Lessons I am learning...

1. Forgiveness is letting go of any hate, resentment, and malice towards the people who have wronged me.

Notice I did not list anger? Anger is a feeling... an emotion that is neither right or wrong. Anger can actually be very healthy when going through grieving or when reacting to particular situations. When thinking of anger, I immediately think of David and his writings in the book of Psalms.  Was he not at times angry?  Did he not at times cry out to God in anger?  Yes... and God was always there.  Being angry is okay, as long as you do not let it control you or allow anger to drive you to sin.


2. Forgiveness is being able to sincerely pray for those who have hurt me and realizing that they are hurting, too. 
I am learning to ask God to help me see the people that have hurt me through His eyes... Why? Because, hurting people, hurt people.

3. Forgiveness is realizing that I still love those who have hurt me and am longing to see true peace in their lives.

4. Forgiveness is not wanting or wishing for anything bad to happen to them.

I must not allow (or encourage) my anger to turn to sin.

5. Forgiveness is realizing that they are NOT the enemy. 

Satan is my enemy.

What does forgiveness NOT mean? The following is an excerpt from our church bulletin last week and was written by our pastor:
"Forgiveness doesn't mean reconciliation.  Because I forgive someone doesn't mean that I must have an ongoing relationship with that person.  Sometimes that relationship...is toxic and a boundary may be necessary.  Sometimes and ongoing relationship would enable that person to continue their bad behavior.  Whether or not you pursue a relationship with someone who has hurt you must be between you and God.
Forgiveness is not excusing.  Forgiveness is not denying that the one who has caused the hurt is not responsible for their actions.  In fact, in many cases, justice would still be important.  For example, a believer would want to forgive someone who had robbed their house; but, in most cases, would also press charges so that this person received the consequence of his moral choice.
Forgiveness is not forgetting.  None of us who have been deeply hurt have the capability of completely forgetting what happened to us.  Forgetting is not the test of whether you have forgiven, and forgiveness will not somehow erase the memory of that hurt.  Wonderfully, as we forgive, over time we often find that the memory of that fades and no longer produces pain.
Forgiveness is not giving permission for that behavior.  Sometimes people are afraid that if they forgive, they are implying that the behavior can continue.  Not true. Forgiveness is simply forgiving the debt.  That certainly does not mean that you are telling the person, "Go right ahead and do it again."  In fact, loving communication with that person with that person should make that clear!
God asks us to forgive each other.  We were never meant to sustain anger and bitterness.  We can't see into hearts and we do not have the wisdom to judge and punish a "fellow servant".  That is up to God.  Simply put; We just forgive as we have been forgiven."
Heavenly Father, I praise you and love you.  Thank you for always being here... even through the fires of life.  When I was a little girl you made me a promise.  You promised me that all things would work to good as long as I faithfully served you and loved you will my whole heart.  I am now seeing the picture that you have painted in my life... clearer than ever.  And I praise you.  You are so good...
Lord, I thank you for your gift of forgiveness that you gave me through your Son.  Help me to continue to share this gift of forgiveness with others.
Give me the courage to set boundaries, help me to have compassion towards those who have hurt me, endurance to run the race, and continue to shower our home with your perfect peace- a peace that passes all understanding.

Learning,