True Forgiveness

True Forgiveness

God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. - Acts 5:31

true-forgiveness.newlife.jpg

Without true forgiveness, bitterness will inevitably tear our relationships apart. No relationship or family will hold together for long if the people involved are unable to grant forgiveness. I don’t just mean saying the words “I forgive you” but actually relating to your spouse, child, parent, or friend with your actions that display forgiveness. Giving voice to forgiveness might create peace temporarily, but when that forgiveness isn’t evidenced by the way you live, true reconciliation will never result.

Let’s learn from a man who went before us. Absalom, the third son of King David, suffered much and also caused much suffering because forgiveness wasn’t a part of his life. When Absalom discovered that his sister had been raped by his half brother, anger and hatred built up in him for two years until he finally killed him.  Then to avoid the wrath of his father, he was on the run for a period of three years. And even after he returned he and his father, David, didn’t speak to one another for two more years. And you thought your family had issues!

Well, Absalom never regained the love he had for his father. In fact, Absalom spent the rest of his life scheming against his father, King David. His life ended while he led a rebellion against his father. Absalom is an example of the wasted years and broken hearts that can result when we harbor bitterness and are unwilling to forgive.

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness. - Robert Muller

Forgiveness liberates the soul, that is why it is such a powerful weapon. – Nelson Mandela

The Choice to Forgive: Healing is a Choice Part 1

healingisachoiceThe Seventh Big Lie: ‘Forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it.’

The fact that you are even reading these words is a miracle, because you have read a lot of stuff on forgiveness and understand everyone’s angle on it, and none of it does one bit of good for you and your situation. You have been abused, mistreated, or neglected in such a severe way that you believe that forgiveness of that person or persons is impossible for you to experience. You are a good and kind and loving person, but there is one person that you harbor a grudge against, and you plan on keeping it. The person does not deserve to be forgiven by you or by God. Anyone looking at what happened would say that you are totally entitled to your feelings.

If what I have described above is the way you feel, or you feel that way to a lesser degree, I am hoping and praying right now as I write this that this could be the time when everything changes for you. I am praying that as you read on I can help you walk through some steps and help you make some choices that lead you to the choice to forgive the unforgivable. And if you are someone who has not been hurt deeply, I pray that you will use these words to minister to someone else who is struggling because he or she is unable or unwilling to forgive. I pray that in the future if you are ever hurt deeply, you might come back to this and use it to walk out the anger, bitterness, and resentment.

The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth

We live in a world where danger and terror are all around us. We live with uncertainty each new day because we never know what might befall us. Since 9/11 most of us have a little more fear of terror in the world that might one day intersect with our personal world. There is something much more dangerous than a terrorist somewhere out there in the world that may or may not harm us one day. There is something worse, much worse than that. It is worse because it can exist within us and affect everything we do and the very person we become. That internal terrorist is called a ‘justifiable resentment’.

A lot of people have resentments. Some just seem to have a bad attitude about life, and they lean toward resenting everything. They resent paying taxes, paying more than a dollar for a gallon of gas, or being asked by their church to give money to support the new building campaign. They resent the person they are living with. That person is not bad, but the ‘resenter’ collects little things done over time and walks around with a huge collection of little things to hold against the person. It makes him feel a bit superior, so he hangs on to everything he can find. Resenters go through life pretty negative on anything and everything. They have a problem, but it is nothing like what I am going to describe. These petty resentments are real resentments, but they are not the type that will kill you.

A justifiable resentment is the type of resentment that will kill you. It is not about anything petty. It is about real and horrible abuse or mistreatment. It is about a real life event that anyone would say was terribly wrong, and most anyone would tell you that you are totally justified in feeling the way you do. Tenderhearted people will cry with you over it, and many probably have. All the evidence supports your feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, and unwillingness to forgive. The other person does not deserve it, and no one wants him or her to have it. That is what I call a justifiable resentment.

Do you have a justifiable resentment? We’d like to help you. Please join us at our next Healing is a Choice workshop.

Forgiving

There are several words in the bible that people tend to cringe at when they hear them. Forgiveness is one of those words. It is a difficult concept to think about releasing someone who has hurt us. There are some drawbacks to holding onto hurts. These include, but are not limited to, giving our own sense of power away, physical ailments such as high blood pressure or headaches, the enemy can set up strongholds, and God will not forgive us (Mt. 6:14-15). There are also benefits to learning to forgive others and ourselves.

Jesus came to provide a way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins. So this seems to be pretty important to him. We want to be free from the weight of our regrets and mistakes and yet, we struggle with the idea of extending that same release to others. We either want justice or revenge. They should understand the pain they caused us. (MT 18:23-30)

The word ‘forgive’ is thrown around as if it is cheap and easy. What Jesus did on the cross to allow forgiveness to happen was not easy. He did not even want to do it, he said “Father if there is any other way, take this cup from me.” MT 26:39 But he made the hard choice and wants us to do the same. Notice, forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. If you wait until you feel like forgiving, it will never happen and you will be stuck carrying the burden forever.

Many people have a misperception that forgiveness is a one time action that “let’s perpetrators off the hook” We are not taught that forgiveness is a process. This process starts with identifying the wound. If we are not aware of what is hurting us, it is extremely difficult to seek healing for it. If you go to the doctor for a cut on your hand but show him your foot, he will have a hard time stitching up the cut and it will be unlikely to heal properly. It will possibly become infected and hurt worse.

Next we need to confess anything that has become sin in relation to the memory of the experience. This is where bitterness, anger, revenge, taking things into our own hands, and selfishness needs to be acknowledged. Wait a minute, are saying I have to let go of my feelings of being hurt? What about the other person? If I forgive them, they will get away with hurting me, why do I have to confess?

This is where one of the corrections to the forgiveness myth comes in. Forgiveness is not for “them”, it’s for you. If you confess your sin first, you are making space for the Holy Spirit to fill you and heal your hurt.

If you try to get back at the person who hurt you, that is the only discipline they will receive. If you choose to forgive them, God will say ‘Ok I’ll take it from here.’ His justice and correction are better than anything I could come up with, so I prefer leaving the discipline, or teaching, to him. After acknowledging the hurt and confessing your own sin, you are now ready to release the person into God’s care. Remember, it is for your freedom and health that you are forgiving them. Be specific. Say “I choose to forgive_______ (name of person) for_______ (what they did) in Jesus’ name. I release them in Jesus’ name” The first time is to break enemy strongholds and the second is so that it comes from the heart. (Mt 18:35)

Finally ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, seal you, and make you the person God designed you to be from the beginning. You are a treasure and you bring glory, honor, and pleasure to God when you forgive others. He sings over you. (Zeph 3:17)

Steps of Forgiveness

  • Acknowledge hurtful situation
  • Confess your sin
  • Choose to forgive and release the person who hurt or upset you
  • Ask Holy Spirit to fill you

Unforgiveness hurts a lot of people. It removes you from relationship with others, yourself, and with God. Making the choice to forgive those who have wronged you allows God to be bigger than the hurt. He wants to bring you healing and freedom. More than that, he wants you back in relationship with Him. There are many reasons to learn how to forgive. It is possible to gain freedom from the burdens you carry. Forgiving is the vehicle to remove the bricks from your backpack so you no longer have to lug them around with you. Your heavenly father wants to relieve the weight you carry as it is too heavy for you. There is hope.

Look Up and Move On

All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
EPHESIANS 4:31-32 HCSB

The world holds few if any rewards for those who remain angrily focused upon the past. Still, the act of forgiveness is difficult for all but the most saintly men and women. Are you mired in the quicksand of bitterness or regret? If so, you are not only disobeying God’s Word; you are also wasting your time.

Being frail, fallible, imperfect human beings, most of us are quick to anger, quick to blame, slow to forgive, and even slower to forget. Yet as Christians, we are commanded to forgive others, just as we, too, have been forgiven.

If there exists even one person—alive or dead—against whom you hold bitter feelings, it’s time to forgive. Or, if you are embittered against yourself for some past mistake or shortcoming, it’s finally time to forgive yourself and move on. Hatred, bitterness, and regret are not part of God’s plan for your life. Forgiveness is.

Be so preoccupied with good will that you haven’t room for ill will.   ~E. Stanley Jones

Acrid bitterness inevitably seeps into the lives of people who harbor grudges and suppress anger, and bitterness is always a poison.   ~Les Strobel

Anger breeds remorse in the heart, discord in the home, bitterness in the community, and confusion in the state.   ~Billy Graham

Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter.   ~Max Lucado

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, free me from anger and bitterness.
When I am angry, I cannot feel the peace that You intend for my life. When I am bitter, I cannot sense Your presence. Keep me mindful that forgiveness is Your commandment. Let me turn away from bitterness and instead claim the spiritual abundance that You offer through the gift of Your Son. Amen

The Need to Forgive

All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another,  forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
EPHESIANS 4:31-32 HCSB

It has been said that life is an exercise in forgiveness. And it should be added that forgiveness is an essential step in overcoming tough times.

Christ understood the importance of forgiveness when He commanded, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44 NIV). But sometimes, forgiveness is difficult indeed.
When we have been injured or embarrassed, we feel the urge to strike back and to hurt the ones who have hurt us. But Christ instructs us to do otherwise. Christ teaches us that forgiveness is God’s way and that mercy is an integral part of God’s plan for our lives. In short, we are commanded to weave the thread of forgiveness into the very fabric of our lives.

Do you invest more time than you should reliving the past? Are you troubled by feelings of anger, bitterness, envy, or regret? Do you harbor ill will against someone whom you simply can’t seem to forgive? If so, it’s time to finally get serious about forgiveness.

When someone hurts you, the act of forgiveness is difficult, but necessary. Until you forgive, you are trapped in a prison of your own creation. But what if you have tried to forgive and simply can’t seem to do so? The solution to your dilemma is this: you simply must make forgiveness a higher priority in your life.

Have you sincerely asked God to forgive you for your inability to forgive others? Have you genuinely prayed that those feelings of anger might be swept from your heart? If so, congratulations. If not, perhaps it’s time to move past your own particular tough times by freeing yourself from the chains of bitterness and regret.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.   ~C. S. Lewis

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, forgiveness is Your commandment, and I know that I should forgive others just as You have forgiven me.  But, genuine forgiveness is difficult. Help me to forgive those who have injured me, and deliver me from the traps of anger  and bitterness. Forgiveness is Your way, Lord; let it be mine. Amen

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries