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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

That's A Good Question - Forgiving

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Forgiveness":


Posted by Anonymous to Praise In Action at March 8, 2011 4:55 AM

I think, and remember these are my opinions only, that it is hard for us to forgive because it goes against our baser human nature, as well as society’s norms.

We want to get even. We don’t want to let people off the hook. We want them to grovel and give us what is due. Our societal norm is winning, at all and every cost.

But that is not what we should believe, nor what we should be doing.

And, contrary to popular thinking, the Bible does not say that we are to “forgive and forget.” There are however, many scriptures that direct and command us to “forgive one another” [Matthew 6:14, Ephesians 4:32].

If we do not even attempt to forgive, we run the risk of reaping bitterness and the losing our eternal rewards [Hebrews 12:14-5, 2 John 1:8].

Forgiveness is a decision of our will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious effort and choose to forgive.

This frees the forgiving one (you) from the past. If you do not forgive and move on, you make yourself a prisoner to this person, their emotions and the offense.

The offender (them) may not want your forgiveness and may not change [Matthew 5:44]. But that doesn't really matter. Ideally, the offender (them) will seek reconciliation, but if not, the one wronged should still make known his decision to forgive. Forgive, and move on.

In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively push the "delete" button and remove events and the subsequent feelings from our memory.

The Bible says that God does not "remember" our wickedness [Hebrews 8:12]. We also know that God is all-knowing, omniscient. He already knows that we have all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. However, having forgiven us, He alone is capable of treating us as if the sin had not occurred.

If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not hold our sins against us. In that sense we must "forgive and forget." If we forgive someone, we must act as if that sin had never occurred.

We are human, so we will remember the sin, but we are to live as if we do not remember it. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

But as I said in the original post, I don’t think Christ is commanding us to be anyone’s doormat or whipping-boy.

There is a quote (among many) that hang in my office by Denis Watley- “Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.”

If there is no change in your relationship after you have made you most heart-felt attempt at forgiveness known, remove yourself from the situation.

Key verse:

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” [Luke 6:35]

As we investigate this passage [Luke 6:27-36], we find Jesus teaching on how far our love must reach. It does not just stop with our friends. He says that it must extend to our enemies as well. We cannot just give our kindness to those who are first kind to us. Jesus points out that even the worst people of the world do that. To be different as Christ’s followers, and children who live in the light, we must love those who do not love us and may even be downright mean to us. In fact, we must do good to them, even though they will most likely never return the favor. Jesus drives home the point that even those perceived as the lowest by the world show favor to those who will return that favor. God showed a different love. God showed love to a world that did not deserve it. Christ calls us to imitate that love and mercy by giving our love and grace to those who do not deserve it and who will not repay it or reciprocate it.

You don’t have to angrily avoid the person, but you can be cordial in greeting, and not engage further. I am not talking about being fake or phony. I think it is entirely humanly possible to say good morning to someone that you don’t want to spend the rest of the day with. It costs nothing, and who knows, they may eventually get it.

We are meant to be the lamps and lights to the world around us!
What does that mean in plain English? We are to lead by and be examples of God's love in and to the world. We are the "demo" models. If we don't even try to get it right, what does that say about the God we serve? What does it say about the love we profess? What does it say about us?

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