Thoughts on Prayer: Forgiveness
Church service was really good this Sunday morning. Actually, it’s good every Sunday morning. This Sunday was on forgiveness. It can be a touchy subject. After all, hurting people hurt people. Who of us has not been on either the receiving or giving end of forgiveness? Who has offered forgiveness only to be denied time and time again? Which brings me to the pastor’s first point:
1. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Our first inclination is to offer a hand to the face or a few “choice” words rather than a warm embrace. We are human. Through Christ we can do something extraordinary: extend a warm embrace or a genuine handshake. Therefore,…
2. Forgiveness takes practice if it is going to become a way of life. Point # 3 was clarifying and insightful.
3. Forgiveness is not minimizing the offense. The next sub point under # 3 is brilliant (at least I thought so). Forgiveness is not reconciliation. That takes two. Forgiveness of an offense is one player game. In my humble opinion this worth ruminating over for a while. Once you’ve done that move on to the next sub point: Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. It is acknowledging the offense/harm done, bringing it to the cross of Christ, and letting Him, by his Spirit, cleanse the hurt, guilt, shame, bitterness, anger, etc., (Side note: Sometimes it advisable to share this with a trusted counselor, friend, pastor) and letting those things go. Then, over time, the offense is a memory without the pain…and you are free. Last sub point in # 3: Forgiveness is not FAIR. The pastor pointed out this was worth celebrating. Just think if we received what was fair from God rather than His mercy and forgiveness extended through Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross, burial, and resurrection… I, for one, could do my happy dance at this point.
4, 5, 6, and 7 have been combined in my mind: See offenses in light of something other than the hurt and pain. We must see them in light of the cross of Jesus Christ. How much have I been forgiven? What are the offenses I am holding on to? If it is hard to forgive, think about what Christ has done for me through the cross.
I really liked the Next Steps the pastor listed:1) Acknowledge the wrong done to you. 2) *(asterisk mine) Write all that was “stolen” from you because of the offense. This one could take a minute. Think of tangible and intangible things. Love, joy, peace, security, hope, family, provision come to mind. Writing these down is vital in the forgiveness process. 3) Choose to cancel the debt! I have made a “forgiveness box” out of a wrapped and tightly sealed shoe box. I cut a slit in the top and inserted each offense. Then, it either was tossed directly into the garbage or a bonfire. 4) Ask God to help you walk in the cancellation supernaturally. 5) Another insightful step: “Rinse and Repeat” when necessary.
That was my take-away from this Sunday’s sermon. What was yours from your place of worship?
Author: Thoughts on Prayer: A Journey in the Land of Father’s Love