Forgiving one another

Ephesians 4_32The Verse of the Day for May 11, 2015 encourages believers to forgive one another:

Ephesians 4:32 (KJV):

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you

Colossians 3:13 offers this reminder in the Amplified Bible:

13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].

This verse also brought to mind a previous blog entry entitled “Forget the past: Choose to forgive” which I have reposted:

In a prophetic word of exhortation Bobby Conner speaks of “The grace to forgive past disappointments” and refers to situations in our past whereby we have experienced the pain of disappointment. In such instances we recognize that we have been “brokenhearted” once again,

Conner mentions that “the Hebrew word translated brokenhearted is shabar, an extremely vivid and powerful adjective that means maimed, crippled, wrecked, crushed, quenched, and violently ruptured.” He goes on to say, “We can take courage by understanding that the Lord’s very purpose in coming, as He Himself declared early on, was to “bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1), to heal our disappointed hearts and restore hope to our innermost being. He understands deeply that we are brokenhearted by sin and failures and He has compassion for our souls.

When we are confronted with past disappointments and failures where the wounds that we thought were fully healed become painful once more, we must let go of the past and choose to forgive: By choosing to forgive those who have hurt you, betrayed you, left you or wronged you. And choose to forgive yourself for your reactions to these injustices or for your own betrayals. You let go of the past by believing that God will restore to you anything and everything that was taken, including love, relationships, time, money, dreams, hopes, talents.

What does it mean to forgive?

To forgive means: to send away, dismiss, set free; to acquit by a verdict; to give no punishment to the guilty person and to view the guilty person as if he is innocent. Another definition means to let loose or set at liberty (a debtor). Someone has said, “I forgive when I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.”

Literally to forgive means to “give for.” You give to those who choose not to give. This poem by John Oxenham expresses a profound truth about love and giving:

Love ever lives, outlives forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives,

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give.

You actually could keep adding “and give” to last line ad infinitum. For such love expresses endless giving.

Jesus Christ, of course, is the quintessential example of forgiveness. As he is dying on the cross, having been brutalized and humiliated beyond any atrocious behavior inflicted upon any mortal, among the last words spoken by the Lord are recorded in Luke 23:34:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Some of the lyrics to the song “Please Forgive Me” reinforce this truth.

God first gave to us so that we might live.

We give to others when we learn to forgive.

Jesus, our example so perfect and true,

Said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

When we practice forgiving, we apply the principle of “giving and receiving.”

Luke 6:38 relates this principle:

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

When we forgive, we also recall another expression of truth by Jesus who said, “It more blessed to give than to receive.” In a situation where one person offers forgiveness and another receives forgiveness. Who is most blessed? I often say, “When you choose to give, you cannot lose, but when you choose not to give you cannot win.” In his book Total Forgiveness, R. T. Kendall states,

“Forgiveness is not total forgiveness until we bless our enemies—and pray for them to be blessed. Forgiving them is a major step; totally forgiving them has fully been achieved when we set God free to bless them. But in this, we are the first to be blessed, and those who totally forgive are blessed the most.”

When it comes to abounding in God’s grace and abiding in His will,

I Choose to Forgive

                

I choose to forgive and to release from payment,

To clear the account and forego the debt once more.

Though rightfully owed to me, I choose to forgive,

To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.

My desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;

Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me,

I rise to the occasion of the Word of God.

Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,

I seek to walk in the footsteps of the Savior.

As Joseph, in compassion, assured his brothers

What Satan meant for evil, God fashions for good,

Widen my vision to see a much more grand scope:

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

Matthew West captures the essence of this virtue in the powerful song “Forgiveness”:

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