Friday, October 02, 2009

God's Purpose is Forgiveness

I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week in regards to Forgiveness. It is something I have been struggling with a little bit in one of my relationships. I never thought I was the kind of person to hold a grudge, so I have absolultely learned a lot about myself through this experience.
I have learned that I can harbor resentment, quite easily, and that of the five apology languages,( (from The Five Apology Languages: How to experience Healing in all your relationships, by Gary Chapman) I really need to have someone accept responsibility or repent to move on. Becuase of this, I really latched on to a bible verse I read last week and I shared this in my conversation with my friend. It was in Luke 17:3-4, 3 “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him.4 Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”
My conversation with my friend went something like this:
Me: I just need to call a truce. I should be a bigger person
Friend: Wait, What?
(explanation ensues, discussion about occurrence that is upsetting me, )
Me: " I am just still feeling angry. I don't want to be fickle or resentful. But if they would just acknowledge that they have upset me, I think I could move on. I think I am just a little too judgemental. I am going to pray for my heart to be yielding and not stern. The message version of Luke 17 talks about forgiving a friend that ASKS for forgiveness as many times as they ask it- but what about a friend that does not ask it.?"
Friend: Grace is good! I will pray too. I have thought through that. See, it says we will be forgiven when we forgive, I feel it is better to forgive without being asked. That way the heart is right."

This conversation gave me a lot more to think about. You see, in my heart, I really wanted to be able to hold a grudge until my friend came to me and asked forgiveness. I felt I had a right to be angry until this happened. As hard as it is for me to admit how calloused I was in this situation, I have to confess the truth. As I mentioned sometime last week, I am searching to know who God IS. I am trying to quit looking at myself and who I AM, and to find a better understanding and foundation of who GOD IS. I believe once I know who God is, then who I am will be found in that. I did a search on forgiveness and came across a wonderful study by Baylor University titled " God's Purpose is Forgiveness". The title of this study caught my eye and drew my attention. After all, I have heard that God's purposes are many things... but never simplified into this one statement. Jesus Christ was sent on a mission, which is summed up quite nicely in John 3:16. " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have ever lasting life." His mission was forgiveness for anyone that would believe in him.
In fact, Jesus was criticized by the pharisee for being forgiving of sins. In Luke 7:49 they said " Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!?!"
Isn't that a great statement of our society today? We are so unforgiving. It is hard to look past the ways we have been wronged. In marriages, friendships, families, experiences shopping, driving on the road. We feel fueled but what we think is a righteous anger- reacting strongly when we have been wronged. We sometimes criticize those that forgive too much, or allow others to hurt them. But maybe all this time I have gotten it wrong?
If God's purpose is forgiveness, shouldn't this be my purpose too?

If you pray for me this week, please pray this one thing: that my heart would be yielding and not stern, and that I could have a heart full of love and forgiveness for my friend without ever being asked for it.

Nehemiah: 9: 16-20 16 "But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands.17 They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt! But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them,18 even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, `This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!' They committed terrible blasphemies. 19 "But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night.20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.


Tami said...

Our pastor talked about forgiveness this morning. Forgiveness is the only prison in which the prisoner themself literally holds the key to his freedom (and often chooses not to free himself). He shared a story of an 80-something year old woman dying in a nursing home...she was beautiful and bitter...her story was that when she was young, 3 days before her wedding her fiance ran off with her sister. She spent her entire life living in unforgiveness and bitterness as she sought out to show them what THEY had done to HER...she lived a lonely, bitter life just so she could show them what their sin and betrayal had done to her...she destroyed all of her relationships with friends and family, all the while blaming it on her ex-fiance and sister who had done this to her. At 85, she was completely alone, dying in a nursing home with no loved ones. She blamed them, but in reality, she did this to herself...she destroyed her life and turned it into a living hell...all in the name of unforgiveness. This story is an extreme example of what unforgiveness and bitterness can do to a person. But the moral of the story is, for you who have been wronged...for you who need to forgive...forgiveness is not about saying that what was done or said is's not about saying that what was done or said did not affect you...when you don't forgive someone, it allows bitterness to creep up in your heart and it will literally eat away at you...keeping you from living in need to forgive to free yourself, regardless of whether or not your friend is sorry or is seeking forgiveness...we are able to forgive because He forgiving, you are saying that He who is in you and enables you to forgive, is bigger than any injustice that was said or done to you...that He is your maker...not the person who wronged you...don't allow them to have that control over your heart...only God should reign over your heart.
How's that for a sermon for you. Forgive me for preaching at you? You better! :)
I'll be praying for you this week- that God would give you the strength to take the key that YOU hold and unlock that prison cell as you extend forgiveness to your friend, regardless of their response or acceptance.
Love you Micayla!

Tami said...

This was a great post by the way. :)