Daily Archives: March 19, 2012

The Power and Freedom of Forgiveness – Week 54, Part I

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. – Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s not forgetting; it’s not pretending you weren’t hurt; it’s not trusting the person again; it’s not even reconciliation. Forgiveness is a DECISION you make to obey God. No one, not even God can make you forgive someone. You must decide to give up your right to hurt the person back. I forgive those who hurt me because God has forgiven me for the hurts I have caused him. Forgiveness protects the forgiver from himself. Forgiveness cancels a debt like Christ cancelled our debt. God says, “I do the punishing; all I want you to do is the forgiving.” Forgiveness is a process, it takes time, but it is an act of grace that reflects God’s treatment to us. When I forgive, I release God to work directly on the other person.

That recently happened in my own life.

I can count on one hand the number of times individuals have approached me, requesting that forgiveness for some past wrong, hurt, action, etc. God has actually been messing with me majorly in this department…for the last four years (especially since I moved to Minneapolis). All through my childhood and continuing on through college, I both made choices and had the choices of others that affected me negatively. I wrestled with each and every single situation for years.

I refused to let it go; to forgive. I created a barrier between God and me; there were many dark days when I couldn’t even pray. When we don’t forgive we say that what that person did to us is more important than going on with God.

One day during my junior year, I started letting things go. God was opening my eyes to the fact that I won’t have to answer for the actions of others…just my own. Living my life bogged down by unnecessary baggage is no way to live. I was beginning to feel free.

Just before graduation, an old roommate approached me and asked if she could ask me something. I never thought I would hear the words; “Forgive me?” cross her lips. I paused before I answered; only to realize I already had.

Fast forward to today…my girlfriends and I have been trekking through So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore. We’ve each been on an emotional rollercoaster ride since we cracked the binding on the book in October. God has brought to the surface my own insecurities (some of which I wasn’t even aware) and He’s led me down the pathway of forgiveness.

In doing so, I’ve started to see restoration in the relationship I have with my dad; even in those of some old friends…people I haven’t talked to in a long time. I’ve found myself feeling more complete (in Him); freer.

This past weekend, I was able to get together with a woman who is near and dear to my heart. We discussed a plethora of items, including a series of incidents from my teenage years.

When you truly forgive, the love of God flows freely in everything you do. When your decisions are not controlled by the other person’s behavior, you have forgiven. When you’re free from the pain, anger and hatred towards that person and find yourself experiencing God’s peace, you have truly forgiven.

Forgiveness has the power to redeem; to renew; and to restore a person/relationship.

In looking back on it now, it’s not about the quantity of occurrences; it’s the quality of the relationship that was restored through the very act of forgiving.  

I’ve often heard the old adage “Forgive and forget,” and have found the latter to be quite impossible. While we can never truly forget (until the day the Kingdom returns) what has been done, we can choose to forgive, move past the bitterness and look for the growth experienced after having gone through it. And, if you happen to be blessed enough to receive forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt, bask in the freedom of it and praise God for your sense of newness, and (if not the relationship) that you can now be restored!

The Almighty

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,”says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelations 1:8

God is wonderfully complex and can never be fully defined by any single thought or idea. He has many natures and many sides which are all very different and all equally valid. For example, one of the most cherished images we have of Jesus is that of an accessible and compassionate friend and companion. Without a doubt, Jesus fulfills that role for His faithful.

At the same time, consider the image of Christ we get from the Book of Revelation:

“His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were bright like flames of fire. His feet were as bright as bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was as bright as the sun in all its brilliance.” (1:14-16)

The contrast is startling. Jesus is kind and loving, but He is also a fierce warrior. The Father is likewise loving and merciful, yet this very same God declares, “I will pour out my vengeance on all the nations that refuse to obey me.” (Micah 5:15)

We can be certain that any descriptive term we use for God, in isolation, will fall well short of elucidating all that He is. The best we can do is to continually appreciate and accept all His many qualities, without neglecting those we may not understand. Let us never forget that God is to be feared. God is to be respected. He is the creator of everything seen and unseen, and deserves our worship and adoration. His power is limitless and without equal. His glory and holiness are beyond our measure.