Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Forgiveness: Forgotten factor in healing

June 10, 2018

In examining the Verse of the Day for June 10, 2018, we see a picture of how believers should behave toward one another in a specific area:

To gain a fuller understanding of what our behavior should be, take a look at Colossians 3:12-13 in the New Living Translation:

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

This passage brings to mind of one of the chapters in my newly completed book Not Just a Survivor: More than a Conqueror where I share the strategy I developed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000. I learned that forgiveness can be a spiritual component of the healing process that is sometimes overlooked.

During the first ten years of dealing with my prostate cancer diagnosis, I was also a writer for an Internet publication that is no longer operational, and I recall publishing a series of articles on forgiveness. Years later, after the publication had folded, I recognized forgiveness as a contributing factor to my healing process

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. “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

James E. Hurst cites Dr. Sidney Simon who offers this definition of this 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.”

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).

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.”

Benefits of Forgiveness:

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.

Forgiving.org also examines “Forgiveness Among Individuals: The Relationship Between Forgiveness and Health” in a series of research projects that study the effects of forgiveness on stress, happiness, coping with major illness, and other aspects of health. Karen O’Connor also discusses the “Healing Power of Forgiveness.” In addition, A Campaign for Forgiveness Research acts as a resource of scientific studies related to forgiveness.” In addition, A Campaign for Forgiveness Research acts as a resource of scientific studies related to forgiveness. Everett L. Washington, Jr., Campaign Director, pinpoints the far-reaching effects of this often neglected virtue:

“Forgiveness is both a decision and a real change in emotional experience. That change in emotion is related to better mental and physical health.”

One of the most valuable lessons learned through this entire process is that forgiveness is a choice, as we conclude with this reminder:

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 a much more grand scope:
May I also see all things working together
For the good, even in perilous times as these.

We close with Matthew West offering “Forgiveness”:

Today’s post is an excerpt from one of the chapters of the forthcoming book. Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror.  Go to lonnelledwardjohnson.com and subscribe to get more publication details. You can also get more details here at Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. Stay tuned.

We choose to forgive

May 11, 2018

The Verse of the Day for May 11, 2018 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 the forthcoming book Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror. 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 also 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 response:

We Choose to Forgive

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

We choose to forgive and to release from payment,
To clear the account and forego the debt once more.
Though rightfully owed to us, we choose to forgive,
To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.
Our desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;
Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us,
We rise to the occasion of the Word of God.
Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,
We 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 our vision to see a much more grand scope:
May we also see all things working together
For the good, even in perilous times as these.

We close with Matthew West singing “Forgiveness”:

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 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? T

he phrase is also translated . . .”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 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 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”

Forgiveness Day is every day

October 25, 2017

 

Ephesians 4--32

Recognized as a time to forgive and to be forgiven, the last Saturday in October has been designated National Forgiveness Day by the Positive Peaceful Partners and Center of Unconditional Love. Various organizations in a several countries sponsor “Forgiveness Day,” but the name has been changed from “National” to “International” or “Global,” with dates that vary, with most occurring during the summer months from June to October. No matter which National Forgiveness Day individuals choose to celebrate, the universal ideals of pardoning and reconciliation are always worthy of recognition.

We know that forgiveness is a vitally important concept in Christianity, and the ideal is also seen in the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. In Christianity, however, forgiveness is not a one-time act on a one-way street, but the virtue is a two-way street. Not only are believers asked to forgive others, but they also ask others to forgive them for any offenses or violations, real or perceived.

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 spoke before his death on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Forgiveness begins with acknowledging some kind of error or offense has occurred. Once the mistake has been acknowledged, many times what follows is a verbal expression of the ten most difficult words to say in the English language: “I’m sorry—I made a mistake. Please forgive me.”

Those words bring to mind lyrics to an original song which begins by asking God to forgive me, followed by asking others to forgive me and to forgive others, and finally telling others that God forgives them:

Please Forgive Me

 

For each careless word and each thoughtless deed,

For each time I failed to follow your lead,

Each time I ignored you and went astray.

And let go your hand and walked my own way.

 

Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.

Please forgive me this time.  Please forgive me each time.

Please forgive me.

 

Though I may have offended unknowingly,

I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.

As God in Christ Jesus has forgiven me,

I release all past hurts and I set you free.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Do not resist Him; He wants you to yield.

Accept His forgiveness, and you will be healed.

Each sin committed, each iniquity

Is cast into the depths of the deepest sea.

 

God forgives you. God forgives you.

God forgives you. God forgives you.

God forgives you this time. God forgives you each time.

God forgives you.

 

When it comes to “forgiving and being forgiven,” we do not have to wait until the last Saturday in October or some other designated day. Each day of the year is Forgiveness Day.

Matthew West, popular Christian singer, tells the story behind one of the songs that he wrote “Forgiveness”:

We conclude with Matthew West, as he performs “Forgiveness” in its entirety:

We choose to forgive

June 10, 2017

Colossians 3:13 in the Message Bible, the Verse of the Day for June 10, 2017, provides a picture of how we should behave toward one another:

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

To gain a fuller understanding of what our behavior should be, take a look at verses 12-14 (NLT):

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

One approach is view this passage in light of clothing that everyone puts on every day. We ask, “What are we going to wear today?” The Word of God provides the answer:

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We must recognize that forgiveness is another garment that is always fashionable, but we must choose to put it on. As poet John Oxenham notes:

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

Indeed, forgiveness is a vital aspect of love, the outer garment that we are instructed to put on that will also pull together all the other garments we should wear. Just as we choose what we are going to wear each day as outer apparel, we choose what inner garments we are going to put on as well. In so doing, each day we make choices. In light of the Word for the Day, here is our choice:

We Choose to Forgive

We choose to forgive and to release from payment,
To clear the account and forego the debt once more.
Though rightfully owed to us, we choose to forgive,
To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.
Our desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;
Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us,
We rise to the occasion of the Word of God.
Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,
We 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 our vision to see a much more grand scope:
May we also see all things working together
For the good, even in perilous times as these.

Listen to a musical rendering of this passage from Colossians set to music:

Beyond race relations: Forgive one another

July 23, 2016

Ephesians 4_32

The blog post for July 23, 2016 is a continuation of the series based on the concept “It’s all about relationships,” the theme from a conference attended three years ago that related seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These principles can be universally applied in achieving and maintaining successful relationships, but they can also be specifically applied in race relations, a critically important area in America today.

These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

Earlier posts have discussed the first two principles, and today we will talk about the third:

Forgive one another

The Verse of the Day posted on June 26, 2016 centered on Leviticus 18:19 (AMP):

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself; I am the Lord.

The expression to “not take revenge nor bear any grudge” is “to forgive,” and most remarkably, June 26 is National Forgiveness Day, a designated time to forgive and be forgiven. In some sense every day could be seen as Forgiveness Day, not only in America but across the globe. Some of the following comments are extracted and expanded from that blog entry:

Forgiveness, a vitally important concept in Christianity, is 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.”

James E. Hurst cites Dr. Sidney Simon who 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:

We Choose to Forgive

 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

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

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

 

 

We choose to forgive and to release from payment,

To clear the account and forego the debt once more.

Though rightfully owed to us, we choose to forgive,

To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.

Our desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;

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

We rise to the occasion of the Word of God.

Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,

We 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 our vision to see a much more grand scope:

May we also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

More than a year ago on June 17, 2015, a series of horrific events occurred in Charleston, SC, where Dylann Roof, seemingly mild-manner young White man,  sat in on a midweek Bible study for an hour before opening fire in a brutal attack that left nine dead at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. When Roof appeared in court on the following Friday facing nine counts of murder, many of the family members of those slain stated, “I forgive you.”

The response to the events in Charleston has served as a glorious demonstration of the power of forgiveness in an interracial context. Throughout the nation we find similar situations where Caucasians have inflicted injury, even death, on African Americans and where African Americans have retaliated in attacking those of another ethnicity who injured them. Without question, race relations are strained, to say the least, but we recognize that to overcome such enmity a spirit of forgiveness must prevail. Christians must set the example and lead the way in responding to the Biblical command:

To forgive, release from payment, to do a favor,

Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do,

Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.

Matthew West, popular Christian singer, tells the story behind one of the songs that he wrote “Forgiveness”:

Listen to the complete recording of “Forgiveness”

Choose to forgive

June 27, 2016

Leviticus 19-18

The Verse of the Day for June 26, 2015 is found in Leviticus 18:19 (AMP):

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself; I am the Lord.

Leviticus, the third book of the Pentateuch, literally means The Book of the Law and indicates how the Children of Israel should conduct their lives in relationship to God, to one another, and to the wider community. The phrase “I am the Lord” also serves as a reminder of the source of the pronouncements that are made throughout the Book of the Law. In chapter 19 the phrase is used not only to punctuate verse 19, but the expression is the final phrase of fourteen additional verses.

The expression to “not take revenge nor bear any grudge” is “to forgive,” and most remarkably, the Verse of the Day spotlights National Forgiveness Day, a designated time to forgive and be forgiven, according to the Committee for Educational and Cultural Action. From an Examiner.com article discussing National Forgiveness Day, comes the following excerpt:

Forgiveness, a vitally important concept in Christianity, is 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. . . : “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

James E. Hurst cites Dr. Sidney Simon who offers this definition of this 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 composed thirteen years ago:

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 a much more grand scope:

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

A year ago on June 17, 2015, a series of horrific events occurred in Charleston, SC, where Dylann Roof sat in on a midweek Bible study for an hour before opening fire in a brutal attack that left nine dead at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. When Roof appeared in court on the following Friday facing nine counts of murder, many of the family members of those slain stated, “I forgive you.” The response to the events in Charleston in 2015 served as a prelude to National Forgiveness Day.

This year in the early morning hours on June 19 Omar Mateen, wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, opened fire inside the crowded Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Certainly, this unimaginable sequence of events provides ample opportunities to apply the principles of forgiveness on National Forgiveness Day 2016.

Matthew West, popular Christian singer, tells the story behind one of the songs that he wrote “Forgiveness”:

Listen to Matthew West, as he performs “Forgiveness” in its entirety:

 

To forgive is to give for

June 10, 2016

Colossians 3--12

Although the Verse of the Day for June 10, 2016 comes from Colossians 3:13, to get a fuller understanding of the subject of forgiveness, we need to look at verses 12-14 where believers are encouraged to put on spiritual attributes as they would put on a garment and change their habits.

Colossians 3:12-14 (AMP):

12 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper];

13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.

14 Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].

The heart of this passage relates to forgiveness, a topic of vital importance. Michael Hyatt refers to the “Dictionary of Difficult Words” and points out ten difficult but really important words: “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

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.”

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.”  Literally to forgive means to “give for.” You give for those who choose not to give. Colossians 3:14 makes the connection between forgiveness and love. This poem by John Oxenham also 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.

There is no greater example of forgiveness than the Lord Jesus Christ. As he is dying on the cross, having been brutalized and humiliated beyond any atrocious behavior inflicted upon any mortal, offers these words recorded in Luke 23:34:

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

The lyrics to the song “Please Forgive Me” reinforce the truths that we have been discussing, as we ask God to forgive us, and we, in turn, forgive others.

Please Forgive Me

For each careless word and each thoughtless deed,

For each time I failed to follow your lead,

Each time I ignored you and went astray.

And let go your hand and walked my own way.

 

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me this time.

Please forgive me each time.

Please forgive me.

 

Though I may have offended unknowingly,

I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.

As God in Christ Jesus has forgiven me,

I release all past hurts and I set you free.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Do not resist Him; He wants you to yield.

Accept His forgiveness, and you will be healed.

Each sin committed, each iniquity

Is cast into the depths of the deepest sea.

 

God forgives you.

God forgives you.

God forgives you

God forgives you.

God forgives you this time.

God forgives you each time.

God forgives you.

Matthew West sums up the comments with this insightful song: “Forgiveness.”

 

 

If we confess, God is faithful to forgive

March 25, 2016

 

1 John-1 8-10

The Verse of the Day for March 25, 2016 is taken from 1 John 1:9 (NLT):

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse 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 1:3-10:

3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 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 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? The phrase is also translated . . .”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 assures 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 and cleanse us continually cleanse us from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity to His will and purpose].

If we confess, . . . God will 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).

Many times in thinking of confessing my sins to God, my Father, I think of the lyrics to this song:

Please Forgive Me

For each careless word and each thoughtless deed,
For each time I failed to follow your lead,
Each time I ignored you and went astray.
And let go your hand and walked my own way.

Please forgive me. Please forgive me.
Please forgive me. Please forgive me.
Please forgive me this time. Please forgive me each time.
Please forgive me.

When we confess our sins, God forgives our sins, and in essence, God does more than wipe the slate clean. The words of the Psalmist reveal what really transpires

Psalm 103:12:

As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The lyrics to the chorus of the familiar Gospel song also remind us:

My sins are blotted out, I know! (I know!)
My sins are blotted out, I know! (I know!)
They are buried in the depths of the deepest sea:
My sins are blotted out, I know! (I know!)

We conclude our discussion, as Morgan Cryar offers a musical rendering of 1 John 1:9 in “What Sin?”