I have learned that I can harbor resentment, quite easily, and that of the five apology languages,(http://www.amazon.com/Five-Languages-Apology-Experience-Relationships/dp/1881273792/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254493519&sr=8-1) (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.