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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

To forgive or not to forgive - that's the question.

As a pastor who teaches on a regular, weekly basis, I can pretty much tell you what topics will be "best sellers" to those who seek after audio and video tapes of our services.

One "best seller" is forgiveness.

There's so much anger, hurt and resentment in all of us, really, that the topic resonates with the body of Christ.

Being as close as we are on a weekly basis, a community of faith not only provides a sense of intimacy for you and I, but also reveals the tensions among us. Think of it as one, big, extended family.

And as in any family where a husband and a wife don't talk to each other, or a child refuses to eat, or brothers and sister bicker, there are tense silences, the body of Christ can be the last place where you want to be.

That's where forgiveness comes in.

Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being God - for not fulfilling all my needs.

And when the shoe is on the other foot, I must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people's needs as well.

No matter how sincere we are, all of us are concerned about getting our needs met. Since w want so much and we get only part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want.

We must forgive. This is so important because in the day and age we live in people are constantly looking to blame their parents, the church and their friends for not giving them what they need. So many are so angry.

Yet forgiveness will set us free. We say, "I no longer hold your offense against you."

But there is more.

We also free ourselves from the burden of being the "offended one."

It releases us from the emotional load that we carry.

The great temptation is to cling in anger to those who have offended us and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. It becomes our identity. We wallow in it. We relish it. We become comfortable with it.

Be set free today!

Why not? The other option is misery.

5 comments:

Debbie Flattery said...

Sometimes I really don't want to forgive because I have been hurt.

I get lashed out at by someone or given "the silent treatment" for no known reason. Why should I forgive and make things "right"? Especially when I haven't even done anything wrong.

Sometimes I get tired of being the one who always sets things "right". Why am I always the one who goes to that person first, asking for forgiveness?

I will say that the closer my relationship is with the Lord the easier it is for me to forgive. When I can't forgive or won't forgive it's a very good barometer of where I am spiritually.

Thanks for the good word on forgiveness.

I think I need to do some forgiving today.

Jon said...

As often as we repeat the 23rd Psalm, we often don't hear the words anymore..."Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me..." The psalmist doesn't say forgive me so I can forgive, or forgive me and I forgive...instead, he says AS I FORGIVE so that we will know that God forgives us in measure with how we forgive. Yes, God will forgive all our sins and move them as far as the east is from the west but we are obligated to forgive in that same measure lest we receive forgiveness with the same lack of thoroughness. Holding onto anger, hurt, or spite only hurts me...yes, I am human and feel all of those things (some for longer than others) but when I repeat the 23rd Psalm, it always hits me that I receive as I give. So give today...give the gift of forgiveness to those who have offended you and give yourself the gift that comes from forgiving...your heart will be the better for it. See you later, I have to go follow my own advice! God Bless!

Firstag Music said...

Sometimes we are just too easily offended. Proverbs 19:11 says, "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offense." Psalm 119:165 says, "Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them." When someone wrongs us, is it usually very serious? Maybe they had a wrong attitude, or they forgot something they were supposed to do, or they ate the last cookie, or they didn't meet my expectations. Boo hoo... I say "get over it."

But then there are deeper offenses; stealing, lying, abuse, infidelity, etc... these are hurtful things that we don't just "get over." Those things often change our lives. Forgiveness can take time. With God's help, we can eventually forgive that person, but trust is another issue.

Words are deadly said...

P. Bill, your right. The deeper the offense it is- the longer it may take to forgive the person who offended you.

I know that all to well. But over the years the wounds do close and forgiveness is somewhat easier to give to that person. With the lord's help the burden can be easily lifted from our shoulders and then it is almost like a walk in the park to forgive. But we must remember that even though it is much "easier" to forgive the person, we MUST mean it. We must truly forgive them and not just say it.

Youth Extreme said...

Forgiveness comes after the hurt. There are times I want to have a good heated argument, to attack the situation and get thoughts feelings out in the open and argue. We have become a society of Whimps, our childern are taught diversity, which is a good thing, but groups want us to believe that true diversity means acceptance with out questions. We need to question. A classic example, planned parenthood has started passing out gel bracelets with the word "Masterbate" on them. A person came to me and made the comment can you believe they are promoting this? Because I took the opposite side in the dicussion, explaining that they deal with unwanted pregnancies, youth sexual issues, the message behind the word is safe sex. My point is I understand why they would do this and the impact it has on teen thinking. It did not mean I supported their approach, or the message, but I understood why they would do something such as this. But the person took my comments as a personal criticism of them. Which resulted in anger, and silence, then forgiveness and resolution. My point to all of this is we need to take comments less personal and more as a learning experiance. If we don't agree or understand, ask appropreate questions and clearifying statements. But don't attack. If we do this there would be less need for forgiveness and anger.