How do we forgive one another?
This was a post to a discussion group
Hello all ... :)
Forgiveness! What a wonderful reality! I have been enjoying many of the things shared. What a shame to be caught up in TRYING to forgive, instead of TRULY forgiving. One is a worthless attempt -- the other a miracle.
I found it easy to forgive the "really bad stuff" that had little to no effect on me, personally; but nigh unto impossible to forgive even the smallest offense if I had been hurt by it. But, as a Christian, I am SUPPOSED TO forgive, so I would make sure I included it in my prayers (I didn't want to blow my chances of receiving my other requests, you know). So, I "forgave" the evil doer. The problem was that my forgiving didn't have much staying power!! It seemed the harder I tried, the more difficult it became (hmmm ... for some reason that principle sounds familiar, huh?).
I have discovered something about myself. When I harp on somebody for their lack of forgiveness (toward another) I am usually struggling with my OWN inability to forgive. My focus is NOT on the miraculous reality of Christ, but instead upon the need to do this thing. If I am looking at sin, then I have ALREADY established the basis upon which I believe I must deal. And as someone had mentioned in a previous post: flesh only produces more of itself.
Good ole R.D. got us off on a good start by asking if forgiveness had to wait if we were "not there yet". That would assume that we could get better by some means and then accomplish the feat. That is law. That would put forgiveness into the framework of the "do-able" ... with a little help. Yuck!! Excellent distinction, my brother!! :) Thanx.
When I am having trouble "forgiving" someone it is not because I'm not trying hard enough, or not taking it seriously enough. It is because I am focused on my abilities ... or should I say, my IN - abilities? It is all I can see. When I'm in that mental perception mode it makes no difference how many verses I read on the subject of forgiveness, because all I hear with that mindset is the futility of the whole thing. What I NEED to hear is the good news of Christ. It is the declaration of the God who has done the miraculous.
This is how Paul presented it:
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
He didn't beg or plead or tell us how we won't be forgiven if we don't. He didn't use any kind of manipulation. He spoke the miraculous. If I hear it in any context outside of being totally miraculous then it becomes a source of death to me. For I will condemn myself for my apparent lack, and I will search for a motivation to make me able to do it.
When I am viewing Christ, and Him crucified, I am viewing reality as it really is. It is the only reality that takes my mind from world's rules of play.
Love, Jim :)
I was asked to summarize my basic points
My basic points, huh? Okeedokee! :)
1) forgiveness is a miracle (Christ's life at work in us)
Yup! This one point just about does it! :)
This does not NEGATE the other point about our ability in Christ to forgive, but instead, the miracle is part and parcel with the ability. It's all tied together and cannot be separated. Does that connect with you?
Now, there is something in the statement "forgiveness is a miracle (Christ's life at work in us)" that may be a bit misleading. It is this: if I am viewing that this is ONLY the part that CHRIST is doing in me -- as being SEPARATE from MY actual doing of it through faith -- then I might be easily convinced that for ME to forgive is a "responsibility" vs. a "miracle". In other words, is Christ's part is the miracle, while ours is the responsibility?
Granted, we have learned our whole lives that "responsibility" is what we are "supposed" to do, "but we have not learned Christ in this way (Eph 4:20)". What I am saying is that we have allowed the whole concept of "responsibility" to remain tainted by the haunting sense of probable failure. The reason is simple: Law + Man = Broken. That's why I'm so sure I might screw it up. But the MIRACLE has changed EVERYTHING.
It's interesting how we hear the word "responsibility" and hear this definition (taken from a dictionary): "The social force that binds you to your obligations and the courses of action demanded by that force".
And yet, somehow, we lose sight of the simplicity of this definition (from the same dictionary): "The proper sphere or extent of your activities."
The first carries a weight to it, doesn't it? The second is the stating of reality.
What was the "sphere" (or realm) of our former activities? It was "in Adam". It was in the sphere of death, of darkness, of sin, of the evil one.
What is the "sphere" of our present activities? It is "in Christ". It is in the realm of life, of light, of righteousness, of the holy One.
Because of our IN-ability in the former realm, "responsibility" became a burden. A "should" because we WEREN'T doing it right (BTW there's nothing inherently wrong with the word, but we often use it as tied to the old prison, and, therefore, it will carry the old sense of condemnation. The "should" of God is determined by HIS ability and NEVER carries the sense of failure -- as in, "that we SHOULD be holy and blameless".).
BUT IN THE NEW REALM ... You know, the one where we "passed from death into life"? Or where Paul said,
For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son Colossians 1:13
In THIS realm we are not failures. And we do not fail. This is the realm where we have been made "slaves to righteousness". This is where we really LIVE!! Wow!! I can't remember who posted it, but it was a cool thought: we have been freed to forgive!! :)
Do you realize that forgiving is not "doing" something, but is actually letting something go? The "difficult" is what we learned in the world. It was the expending of energy in HOLDING ON to my reasons to be mad at you or at myself. Ha! We get it all backwards when we think forgiving is hard. That's only because we got used to the struggle, the hatred, the anger, the need to be shown right in condemning our brother or sister. Man, oh, man, are we mixed up!! Holding on to the reasons to condemn you (or myself) took up all of my energies. It took its toll on our minds and our bodies. It changed the way our faces looked. It gave us headaches, and ulcers, and brain tumors, and cancer, but by God, we were going to be justified in our judgments!! Or so we thought. "Forgive" means not holding on to those reasons.
If you had millions of dollars in gold and cash and the only place you could trust it was to carry it around in a suitcase with you everywhere you went -- you would learn to bear the burden of the weight. The extreme labor involved in carrying these valuables around with you would become second nature. You would come to believe that letting go of it would be the most difficult thing you could ever do because it represented your "worth". But we were unaware that our gold had turned to rust and our cash into rotting paper. Putting the old worthless suitcase down would be true freedom ... and it would not be "work", but the end of it!!
When I was a kid we raised a few goats. I got stuck with having to carry pails of water for them to drink. For a little kid, a pail of water is pretty heavy. The thin metal handle cut into my hands. And I thought my arms were going to fall off from the strain. The relief that came over my whole being from letting them go was overwhelming. It was a freedom!!
This is what forgiveness is. I don't mean Him forgiving us, but our forgiving someone else! It is the ceasing of my struggle. I have been freed to drop that heavy suitcase because I have discovered that it ISN'T my worth. It ISN'T my life.
But if I become convinced that my "responsibility" to forgive is one of those "difficult" things that I, as a believer, must bear, then I will hold on to the weight of worthless goods as if the heavy burden is "the easier thing to do"!! But it only appears this way as I see it through lenses that are colored by the world's logic. And I will condemn myself for my inability. I will also condemn you for yours.
The message of freedom is the power of God for deliverance to us who believe!! It cuts through the crappola (thanx for the cool word, Mike!) and puts everything into proper perspective. It takes the impossible and makes it possible. It takes the nothings and makes them heirs of everything. For it took what we considered life and put it to death, so that we "should" (a definite "should" because of Christ :) be set free and be made to live!
Hahahaha!! If anybody has rambled and been long-winded I think I just took the record!! :)