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Thursday: Forgiveness and Peace — 5 Comments

  1. Some of us have hurtful memories playing repeatedly on the screens of our minds, and these mental re-runs can make us hysterical. There is often a fine line between being too historical and being hysterical in our relationships. The unwillingness to move beyond episodes where we've been messed over can produce spiritual dysfunction that hinders us from enjoying God's peace, power, and prosperity. Thus, the question before us is this: When people have messed over us, what are we, as God's people, to do? Jesus provides an answer, "Forgive."

    In Matthew 18, the Apostle Peter poses a question to Jesus. "Jesus, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus responds, "Not seven times, but seventy-seven times." In other words, forgiveness is not a product that we should seek to quantify. It is a practice that enriches the quality of one's character.

    When Peter asked Jesus about forgiving his brother or sister, he wasn't talking about nameless stranger. It's someone with whom we share a spiritual bond; someone with who you study, work, or sing. How many times must we forgive the one sitting next to? The debate rages even today, seven years after "nine-eleven," as to whether it is possible to forgive the perpetrators behind that day.

    The ability to forgive is a Christian's birthmark-a sign that we have been justified by grace through faith and born anew spiritually. To be a Christian is to be forgiven. To be a Christian is also to be someone who forgives.

    We all remember the old saying, to err is human and to forgive is divine. Godly forgiveness is counter-cultural. We live in a culture that says, "If you mess over me, I will sue you or worse." Few would dispute our right to get even. The rule of the world is 'do unto others as they've done unto you.'

    Ours is an age of countless lawsuits, continual retaliation, and cold, calculated revenge. We live in a very litigious society in which we like to hold others responsible for things. Matthew 18, however, compels us to take our cues from Christ, not from culture. We are in the world but not of the world.
    Forgiveness is an evidence of being forgiven, a manifestation of grateful heart for the grace bestowed on us. It requires discipline and a lifelong commitment. It is not a sporadic occurrence: seven times. It is a lifelong commitment: seventy seven times. Furthermore, forgiveness requires us to focus on our reactions, not the actions of others. We cannot control other people's actions, but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can control our reactions, even our reactions to unrighteousness.

    Amen!(33)
    • So true and the sad thing is that not only the 2 people involved are the ones that suffer but other family members and friends as well. Unforgiveness is what creates the violence in the world.

      Amen!(3)
  2. To forgive when someone asked for forgiveness can be easier than to forgive when the person who hurt you didn't even ask. It may be a difficult exercise! But it may produce good feelings within!
    None is perfect, which means that actions probably fail at some point too.
    I'm personally fighting with this feeling, because I need to forgive without being asked for forgiveness... Where is my good sense now? How can I do this? I agree that I need to relieve myself from the robe of victim and exchange it for the robe of Christ, although I'm not Him. I need to learn how to play this in order to free my heart from anger. Perhaps I am to profit more in forgiving than to wait expecting an apology by right!

    Amen!(26)
  3. Unforgiveness is a prison around the one unable or unwilling to release their judgment upon the other that hurt them. Revenge is a deeply controlling emotion. I am reminded of Corrie Ten Booms story. It was soon after the end of WWII. She had just been in Germany preaching a sermon on forgiveness in which she utilized the text "casing all of ours sins into the sea" (Micah 7:19) and then adding "God posts a sign 'No Fishing Allowed.'"

    Upon the conclusion of her homily a man came out of the audience to approach her. Instantly, this person transformed into one of the prison guards that abused her and her sister, Bessie, in Ravenbruck where Bessie died. Immediately, coldness set in as the man in her mind's eye now dressed in a Nazi uniform, held out his hand to reach hers. The man was that guard, and announced that he was. He said, "Excellent sermon, Frauline. I was a guard at that prison and I come to ask your forgiveness."

    Corrie writes, that she who so glibly spoke on forgiveness found that she now could not forgive, frozen in feelings of deep hurt and resentment. She quickly sent a prayer to God saying, "Lord, the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I can reach out my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling." Corrie describes her lifting of her hand being done "woodenly, mechanically" and she placed her hand in the one outstretched to hers. When their hands met Corrie says that beginning in her shoulder and racing down her arm into her hand a feeling of warmth flooded through it, and with tears now flowing in her eyes she said to the man, "I forgive you from the bottom of my heart."

    Amen!(2)
  4. In dwelling upon forgiveness I am in my devotions in which my reading takes me to the story I would entitle, if I preached this, The Scandal of Forgiveness. The story of David and Bathsheba and the tragedy surrounding that. The adultery and then murder by David is forgiven. It is a lot to meditate upon in relation to forgiveness of God.

    Amen!(1)

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