Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Forgive and FORGET?...NOT!!

"Be kind to one another...
forgiving one another as God
in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:32)
This week I'm tackling a rather difficult step in a Christian's Walk of Faith...the act of forgiveness! In our hearts we know we should forgive.  The bible certainly enforces the idea. And good upstanding church folks will tell you in a minute, when offended,  just forgive and forget! But is it as easy as all that? Speaking from experience, I've found that to forgive is a lot more complicated than one would have you think, even when doing so biblically!

With that being said, before going any further let's see how the bible defines forgiveness in its multifaceted ways:
Forgiveness means to release, dismiss, pardon, set free, send away or to let go.  

Here's the crux of the matter: Forgiveness IS A COMMAND (Ephesians 4:32) and God wouldn't tell us to do it if it wasn't possible! To do so is  far more an act of surrendering than mere fear of  consequences coming from disobedience.  Matthew 6:15 clearly states that  If we want God to forgive our offenses we have to forgive the offenses of others!  Now that's a sobering thought!

In no way am I suggesting that after reading this post, forgiveness will come easy the next time you're offended.  What I do hope to clear up are a few lies about forgiveness that may be slowing up the process.  And believe me it is often over a period of time given spiritual revelation and supernatural intervention that we will be led to the peace and freedom true forgiveness brings!
  • LIE # 1 - Forgiveness softens or rids you of the pain! It is true that in the act of forgiveness the one offended receives many benefits.  More so than the perpetrator that you have released.  But that doesn't mean that you won't still feel hurt for awhile. Some wounds are superficial and we can move past them quickly.  Others cut deep and heal more slowly.  They may never seem to heal.  Yet God promises that eventually they will.  Psalms 147:3 says God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. We must persevere until He does.
  • LIE # 2 - Forgiveness means you will forget what happened!  Short of a lobotomy or  medical disease that takes away your memory, it is impossible to forget offenses.  Even when one is able to induce mental blocks, the right stimuli will often bring them back.  That's why the old adage: forgive and forget just doesn't work!  What gives Christians the ability to walk in the freedom of righteousness and fulfill God's command to treat our offender well is God's  enabling grace. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything you may have an abundance for every good. deed. Others may wonder how you can treat those who have hurt you with kindness and compassion.  You may even be accused of being a fool.  But you and I know it is the supernatural grace of God.  
  • LIE # 3 - Forgiveness brings relationships back to their former status!  This myth is very important to understand. Even after forgiveness, trust takes time to be restored... if ever! Forgiveness does not guarantee an automatic "do over."  It doesn't mean that the relationship will go back to its former level of intimacy or vibrancy.   Sometimes the damage has been so severe that reconciliation is not possible. In the case of unrepentant physical abuse or destructive behaviors a relationship shouldn't even be considered!  This does not mean that you should withhold forgiveness or give up hope. Just know as someone once said.  Forgiveness is solo, reconciliation is a partnership--it takes the cooperation and work of two individuals.  Galatians 6:7 reminds the perpetrator: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever man sows that he will also reap. Luke 17:3 reminds the offended: Take heed to yourself, if your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Loss is a natural consequence of sinful behavior. Loss of fellowship for a time but then often loss of a valuable relationship.
  • LIE # 4 - Forgiveness does not has quantifications or limits! This one takes a bit more explanation. Just a subtle misunderstanding of the biblical principle can throw us off.  It is in the Bible passages of Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4 and then Matthew 12:31-32 that there appears to be a conflict.  There is not!   Jesus responds to His disciples in the first two passages concerning limitations that Rabbis set to forgive offenders. They taught three times was adequate.  Peter was being generous saying seven times but Jesus teaches here that compassionate love sets no limits at all. He follows this up with a profound parable. Many deduce from reading this that forgiveness is unconditional and limitless. NOT SO!  God forgives personal sin yet He requires a condition. We must confess it with the implication of repentance and then He is faithful (I John 1:9).  He forgives national sin but humbling and turning away from wickedness must be done  (2 Chronicles 7:14). Christians enjoy the privilege of  forgiveness but only because of the shed blood of Christ was required.  Jesus had to die! See  Ephesians 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22.  Now let's examine Matthew 12:31-32 in which Christ flat out says that  anyone speaking against the Son of Man will be forgiven but he that speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven! This is known as the unpardonable sin or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!  It would take a whole blog to explain the context of this verse but be assured this sin cannot be committed today!  The only sin that is not forgiven is rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior!   
  • LIE # 5 - You have to FEEL like forgiving before you do it! When it comes to obeying God feelings has no place in it! Our emotions makes us like God in that we can feel deeply both love and the offense, but like everything else since the Fall of Man, our emotions must be renewed and sanctified! Often we think we haven't forgiven our offender because it still hurts or we are seeking to relate to them in the same way as before the offense.  There's just not the warm and fuzzy that was there before.  But if you are able to treat them as Christ would treat them in every situation, then you have forgiven!  We forgive not because our emotions dictate it but simply because it brings God glory and helps us to grow in His image. 2 Peter 3:18 says: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever, Amen 
 (2 Corinthians 12: 10)

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