Thursday, 05 July 2012 13:39

Daily Forgiving

Written by  Pamela Boswell
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Is there someone you know who makes your heart beat faster, your breath shorter, your throat tighter or your stomach more acidic every time you see or think of them? If so, there is a very good chance that you have been offended and have not granted that person forgiveness.

 


Responses to the suggestion of forgiving an offender can range from “I will NEVER forgive him for what he did” to “I’m just not ready” to “It’s a process. I’m working toward it. Don’t rush me!” Some will even say, “When he can show me he is really sorry, I’ll think about it.” These responses usually indicate ignorance of what the Bible teaches about this issue.

One of the most common themes of Scripture is forgiveness. The entire Bible points to restoring our broken relationship with God through the forgiveness of our sins offered in Jesus Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:18). This verse connects our being forgiven by God to our responsibility to forgive others: “Be tenderhearted forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) Also, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” ( Matthew 6:14) And, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18: 32b-33)

“OK, you have made your case for granting forgiveness. Enough already! How many times must I forgive, and what about forgetting?” The disciples asked Jesus how many times must we forgive? His response indicated every time that we are asked. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)
“But is harder to forgive others when they have offended you over and over again!”

Yes, but it’s not impossible, as Jesus explained to the disciples who thought they needed more faith to obey his command.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ” (Luke 17:5-10)

Jay Adams suggests that there are three things you must commit to do that will aid in forgetting the offense and restoring feelings. The first step is to not bring up the offense to the person again in a manner to hurt them or manipulate them. Second, do not talk about the offense to anyone else. And finally, when the thought of the offense comes to your mind, think on something else. Do not dwell on the offense. With time it will occupy less of your thoughts.
Not only are you required by Scripture to grant forgiveness, but you must be quick to ask forgiveness of others when you have sinned against them. The first step in doing this is viewing the wrong that you have done as God views it. I am not talking about a difference of opinion or perspective... I am talking about sin. Realizing that you have not only sinned against another person but also against God should lead you to repentance. Repentance means not only stopping what you have done or are doing, but turning to something else that is good and just and right. Something that is pleasing to God.

This leads to confession. You must go to God and the person you have sinned against and confess specifically for what you have done. After the confession, forgiveness is requested. Saying “I’m sorry” is not good enough. You must request of them a willingness to forgive. At this point, the “ball is in their court” so to speak. If they are a believer, it is obligatory for them to forgive you, although not necessarily to trust you. While it is their duty to forgive you, it is your duty to earn back their trust when it has been broken.

One other step that is often necessary is restitution. When something has been taken or broken it is the offender’s responsibility as far as possible to bring about restoration. Examples of this are all through the New and Old Testaments. (For example, when Zacchaeus repented he restored fourfold to those from whom he had taken.)

When should this all take place? As quickly as possible. Matthew 5:24 says to leave the altar and get right with your neighbor before approaching God. The longer you nurse an offense and dwell on a wrong the longer the seeds of bitterness have to take root and grow in your heart. (Hebrews 12:15)
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you will be called upon to ask for or grant forgiveness before too long. Are you prepared to do so?

Last modified on Thursday, 05 July 2012 15:34
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