Monday, May 2, 2011

Living Out Forgiveness

In our Parental Guidance (PG) class we have been reading an outstanding book by Lou Priolo, entitled The Heart Of Anger and to simply say it is highly recommended would be an understatement! This Friday night we will be wrapping up the study of this book with our final PG class until the fall, so make your plans to “finish well” if you have been a part of this study with us!

So many times, in reading a book we will skip the appendix…but, in the appendix of this wonderful book we see the following verses: (don’t skip it!)

Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Jeremiah 31:34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

We can know for a fact that God doesn’t have amnesia! As we have seen through our “Wonderful Words” series, God imputed our sin to Christ and imputes His righteousness to us because he was our substitute on Calvary. All of God’s wrath that should have fallen on me, fell on Him. What a glorious truth. So, when the Father sees me, He sees me in the righteousness of Christ and I am truly forgiven. But, the question I am faced with now is, “How do I forgive as Christ has forgiven me?” In light of Priolo’s book, I want to offer you three promises that must be included to forgive biblically:

1. Forgiveness is a promise not to hold the offense against the other: The tendency when one is hurt is to lash out and utter such words as: “You always do this” or “You said you were sorry the last time.” Forgiveness states that you are releasing them from “last time.” You will not use past sins against the person. The issue is “off limits” and will not be brought up again. You must capture those thoughts and remind yourself that you have forgiven that sin; that it is over.

2. You promise that you will not discuss the past offense with another: People love gossip - our deceitful hearts love negativity and slander. If we have been offended or sinned against and have not truly forgiven the other, we love to tell others. Our sinful minds can justify anything we want to do. So, if I have been hurt, I need to make sure I just “share my heart” or “release my pain.” Ahhh…but God still calls that gossip.

3. You promise that you will not dwell on the offense of the other: You may be one of those VERY rare people who won’t gossip about the hurt, but you will dwell on it. You can act like everything is okay on the outside but you hold it and replay it in your mind… and convince yourself you have a right to do so. The only problem is we have no rights - they were purchased at the cross! This dwelling on it, replaying it – only leads to anger and bitterness. Eventually you will resent the person or, the next time they do something, your emotional response to them will be so “snowballed” that it is overwhelming to you and them. Bottom line, forgiveness is choosing not to hold on to that offense or that sin. You have to stop those thoughts and remind yourself that you have chosen to forgive.

So remember our passion should be to love like Christ and forgive like Christ - and if you have lived any time at all, you know that takes a constant work of grace, and we still fall short all too often. There have been wonderful books written on this very subject, but one of my favorites is The Freedom And Power Of Forgiveness, by John MacArthur. It is a wonderful book that will be a great asset to you as you seek to grow in this area! Forgiveness is a concept we speak of so casually on the outside, but very few of us truly deal with at the heart level – so we harm ourselves and others in our relationships by not truly forgiving.