Apr 26, 2015 // By:Dave // No Comment
Last Week, I wrote about the Round Penn of God. This teaching tool took on meaning in the life of the christian who tries to out-think or outrun God. Over the week I have been struggling with forgiveness towards some characters in my life (who God has obviously placed there for my benefit). It seems plain to me, that others also struggle with forgiveness in daily life towards daily people creating daily havoc and stress. So, like any good writer, I resort to therapy by writing about it and encouraging others to read the thesis and conclusion.
The thought: not only do we need to learn to forgive and “practice” forgiveness … but what if this classroom experience, what we call “this side of eternity” is in part (or mostly) a round penn experience so that we can learn to forgive others, learn to receive forgiveness, and then to learn to love and receive love. (or maybe its love then forgive, or how about practicing both at the same time and not use failure in either one as an excuse to not do the other?)
According to wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness): “Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and ceasing to demand punishment or restitution…. In practical terms, it may be necessary for the offender to offer some form of acknowledgment, apology, and/or restitution, or even just ask for forgiveness, in order for the wronged person to believe himself able to forgive.”
Most world religions include teachings on the nature of forgiveness, and many of these teachings provide an underlying basis for many varying modern day traditions and practices of forgiveness. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a well known instance of such teaching and practice of forgiveness. “
Here are some quotes I found online across various websites on the topic of forgiveness:
“LoveNote. . . If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. – Mother Theresa”
“We often think of forgiveness as something that someone who has done us wrong must ask of US. There is always another way of looking at something. My thoughts on forgiveness suggest that you focus on offering forgiveness TO the person who has wronged you. To not forgive them is like taking the poison (continuing to suffer for what they did or didn’t do to you) and expecting THEM to die!”
“Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. It is not something you do FOR someone else. It is not complicated. It is simple. Simply identify the situation to be forgiven and ask yourself: “Am I willing to waste my energy further on this matter?” If the answer is “No,” then that’s it! All is forgiven.”
“Forgiveness is an act of the imagination. It dares you to imagine a better future, one that is based on the blessed possibility that your hurt will not be the final word on the matter. It challenges you to give up your destructive thoughts about the situation and to believe in the possibility of a better future. It builds confidence that you can survive the pain and grow from it.”
“Telling someone is a bonus! It is not necessary for forgiveness to begin the process that heals the hurt. Forgiveness has little or nothing to do with another person because forgiveness is an internal matter.”
“Choice is always present in forgiveness. You do not have to forgive AND there are consequences. Refusing to forgive by holding on to the anger, resentment and a sense of betrayal can make your own life miserable. A vindictive mind-set creates bitterness and lets the betrayer claim one more victim.”
“The greatest misconception about forgiveness is the belief that forgiving the offense, such as an affair, means that you condone it. Not true. In fact, we can have to reconcile with someone who badly treated you.”
“Forgiveness is the experience of finding peace inside and can neither be compelled nor stopped by another.”
“I believe that to withhold forgiveness is to choose to continue to remain the victim. Remember, you always have choice.”
“When you forgive you do it for you, not for the other. The person you have never forgiven. . . owns you! How about an affair? Just because you choose to forgive, does not mean you have to stay in the relationship. That is only and always your choice. The choice to forgive is only and always yours.”
“When you feel that forgiveness is necessary, do not forgive for “their” sake. Do it for yourself! It would be great if they would come to you and ask forgiveness but you must accept the fact that some people will never do that. That is their choice. They do not NEED to be forgiven. They did what they did and that is it – except for the consequences, which THEY must live with.”
Detecting a theme here ? Forgiveness, among us humans, is not for the offender’s sake. It is more for the victim’s (or offended party’s) sake. If the victim refuses to forgive, then they are wrapping chains around themselves (each link representing another choice to relive the offense and the pain) until the victim has truly sacrificed themselves to the crime and can now only sit and stare at hundreds of identical links of anger, pain, and resentment for something the offender has long since moved on from and likely has no idea of what you have done to yourself. Did your clinging to all that pain and resentment really punish them, or yourself in the longrun ?
Here’s a thought. Jesus taught that if we cannot forgive others for the sins against us, that we would not be forgiven for ours (because the lack of forgiveness shows a lack of appreciation for the greater forgiveness given to us) Matt. 6:15, Matt. 18:35, Mark 11:25,26,
even in the Lords’s prayer : Luke 11:4 Forgive us our debts (sins), as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us) …
As you can clearly see, God (which includes the one saying all those cool things in the bible, Jesus) is far more concerned with the state of our own heart and mind than what little things others may have done to aggravate us or even hurt us. Jesus experienced the most “excruciating” pain available when He suffered and died for us. What did He pray for while He hung there ? That’s right ! “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM” (and added a petition on our behalf, “they do not know what they do”) Why ? Because you cannot love and have unforgiveness.
1 John: clearly states across all four chapters that if He lives in us then the light produces love (agape) which enables us to forgive.
To refuse to forgive is to hate another and if we hate another then we are showing that the light is not in us at all (and if we then claim that we are Christians while acting unloving, then we are liars)
1 John 2:9 ¶ Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark.
1 John 2:10 It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others.
1 John 2:11 But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.
Forgiveness is serious business, not for the faint of heart. In fact , I am sure that the only lasting forgiveness is only attainable when we admit our inability to forgive and finally ask the Spirit of God to teach us and help us, and that starts with a good long look at the cross. We who have been forgiven for so much can surely look to our Hero, Jesus Christ to hold us by the hand and lead us away from the temptation to refuse forgiveness and release ourselves in the process. Then our cleaner hearts are more free to love those around us and our light will more clearly burn for others to see.
Here is a sobering set of verses that comprise a battle cry for all who battle unforgiveness in this shadowland.
2 Corinthians 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
Who would argue that love, expressed as forgiveness, is the strongest weapon in our arsenal to fight for our kingdom ?! We are soldiers of the cross, left behind enemy lines to recruit as many as possible back to the heavenly kingdom before the end. Forgiveness shines brighter than any enemy blade; and it breaks anger, resentment and vengeance, the weapons of power that the enemy hands to all yet to believe.
Forgive, and make a difference, now !
in His service, Dave Cadieux