Posts Tagged ‘A Heart that Forgives’

I choose to have a heart that forgives

May 11, 2021

The Verse of the Day for May 11, 2021 encourages believers to forgive one another:                    

Ephesians 4:32 in the Amplified Bible:

Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Forgiveness is also a topic discussed in detail in my Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Chapter 7 examines “Forgiveness: A Forgotten Factor” in the healing process related to my diagnosis with prostate cancer. Here is an excerpt from that chapter which includes comments on Ephesians 4:32 and other related Scriptures:

Forgiveness is not only a vitally important concept in Christianity, but it has universal application as well. Described as a two-way street, this virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ, who was also brutally slain, as he spoke before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In addition, Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Dr. Arch Hart, Christian psychologist, offers a definition of forgiveness that seems to be particularly applicable in the situations with where one individual has hurt another in some way: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

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).

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.

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.”

Dr. Sidney Simon offers this definition of this critical concept:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

Dr. Robert D. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and pioneer researcher with the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, has developed Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This study guide demonstrates how forgiveness, when approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven, indicating that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one’s future. The title of Dr. Enright’s workbook also brings to mind this poem:

I Choose to Forgive

 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

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 from your perspective::

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

We close with Kevin Levar singing “A Heart that Forgives”

If we confess, God is faithful to forgive

March 25, 2018

 

The Verse of the Day for March 25, 2018, is  taken from 1 John 1:9 (NIV):

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The context for 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers. Translated from the Greek word koinonia, fellowship involves communion or oneness, harmony. In Acts, the believers of the early Church were said to be “of one heart and one mind.” Having this close fellowship with God and with one another is God’s desire for His people expressed in 1 John 1:6-10:

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Verses 6-10 begin with the conditional clause “if we” followed by a verb: “If we say…, if we walk…, if we say…, if we confess…, if we say….” These expressions establish the conditions which if met on our part, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part. These two parts of the conditional sentences are especially noted in 1 John 1:9. If we do our part, which is to confess our sins, our faithful and just God will do His part, which is “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What does it mean to confess our sins to him?

Another translation uses this expression:  “. . . to confess our trespasses . . . our offenses . . . our sins.” To confess is to say with one’s mouth. With our mouths, we acknowledge our shortcomings, our misdeeds, our sins of omission and sins of commission. We acknowledge that in far too many instances we have missed the mark and fallen short. I John 1:9 in the Amplified Bible as9sures us that:

9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

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). Dr. Arch Hart has said, “I forgive when I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.” Simply put, to forgive is to love, and to love is to forgive. Remember, however, that “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

I learned this firsthand in a very graphic way when late one night after getting off from work, I was accosted by a man who demanded that I give him my wallet. As I reluctantly complied, do you think I loved giving him my wallet? Nonetheless, I complied with his demand that I “give.” As I recall, when I went to my car, hurt and humiliated, I prayed and asked God to forgive the man who was in such desperate straits that he resorted to robbery.

Literally to forgive means to “give for.” You give to those who choose not to give. These lines from John Oxenham express 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.

During the week prior to the celebration of the Resurrection, our thoughts turn to the quintessential example of forgiveness: the Lord Jesus Christ. 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 this original 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 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.”

To sum up our discussion of forgiveness, Kevin Levar offers “A Heart that Forgives”:

On Pearl Harbor Day: A spiritual parallel

December 7, 2017

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 stands out as one of the most successful surprise attacks in the history of warfare. More than 2,400 people were killed during the attack, with eighteen American ships suffering damage. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor with a force of 423 planes based on three aircraft carriers. The entire fleet of thirty ships went relatively undetected throughout its journey to Hawaii. The entire attack lasted less than four hours, resulting in the sinking of 21 out of 96 of the ships anchored in the harbor. Of the nearly 400 fighter planes sitting at airbases on the island 188 were destroyed and another 159 damaged.

The Japanese had incorrectly assumed that if they could cripple the US Pacific Fleet that the country as a whole would be demoralized and significantly set the country back as they struggled to rebuild. Instead, the attack solidified the emotions of the people and led to the eventual fall of the Japanese Empire. The United States entered the war as a strong fighting force within just sixty days after the Pearl Harbor bombing, a far cry from the six to eighteen months expected by the Japanese. On December 7, the nation recognizes this pivotal event of WWII, known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day.

A Spiritual Parallel

Dennis Cramer, internationally recognized for his prophetic ministry, drew a spiritual parallel to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Here is an excerpt from a message to the Body of Christ. Although the message was originally spoken more than 12 years ago, it still has application, particularly today.

I believe this is the word of the Lord for you: It’s December 7, 1941, all over again! You have just been through your spiritual Pearl Harbor experience. You have just been blind-sided. You have just been hit below the belt. You have just been thrust into a spiritual war, a combat zone, a hostile environment, totally against your will.

A strong biblical response is necessary. . . You must fight back. You must defend yourself. You have been the target of a demonic “sneak attack” and you have suffered, nearly becoming another spiritual fatality. You’ve been spiritually bullied around too long. You’ve been spiritually victimized too long. You’ve been spiritually defeated far too long. It’s simply time to win. It’s time to emerge as the victor! And to the victor go the spoils!

I’m convinced that praise is the number one weapon of YOUR warfare. Through praise it’s time for you to execute vengeance, punish your enemy, bind evil forces, and carry out the judgment against all of hell. Also, as you praise God, I want you to do something more. It’s time for YOU to claim the four-fold guarantee of Christ’s atonement. Plus, realize that his atonement was and is a finished work. Jesus didn’t say, “It is over.” He said, “It is finished.” The work of the cross was and is a finished, completed, perfect work for YOU. There’s nothing more you can do except to receive within YOU what Christ did for YOU. This includes total forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and prosperity for you, as well as total defeat for your archenemy, the devil.

Receive now His forgiveness for all your sin, past and present. Receive now His total healing for your life: spirit, soul, and body. Receive now any deliverance you may require to be free. And, expect to walk in total prosperity now, both in natural things as well as in spiritual things. Accept the total package Christ has for YOU now. Remember, YOU are the one who must do the receiving. This is your right and your responsibility.

Reflecting on the significance of Pearl Harbor Day and the words of Dennis Cramer, this poetic expression came to mind:

Our Total Package

Our lives reveal our deepest thoughts as scrolls unfold.
Grace, mercy, peace, and God’s favor still overflow,
Flooding our hearts, as blessings abound one hundred fold.
Passion consumes us; we pursue that we might know
Fullness of joy as we seek to follow His ways,
As we stand with pure hearts in total forgiveness,
As we reckon our accounts: sum of all our days.
Washed and cleansed in the beauty of His holiness,
Touched by His power we receive total healing,
Far beyond the tokens of our inheritance.
With faces uncovered and His glory revealing,
We seize our destiny of total deliverance:
Foretaste of the sweetness of the final victory,
As we savor rewards of total prosperity.

Kevin Levar offers a song related to forgiveness, one of the components of the “Total Package”: “A Heart that Forgives”