In Yesterday's post, I talked about the two-edge or double-edge sword. If you missed that one, I would encourage you to go back and read it, HERE.
Today, I want to talk with you about what the Bible says about forgiveness, because forgiveness has become very distorted and has been used and misused, causing devastation to many...even Christians.
Forgiveness, first mentioned when Joseph's brothers were in need of forgiveness, means to take the load off, or to remove the burden. When you have sinned against another person, it becomes a burden you bear, whether you feel it or not. It also becomes a burden the other person feels the weight of because of the damage you did to them. When you forgive, you are removing that burden from yourself and not holding it against the other person any longer.
Forgiveness is not to condone what someone did. It is not saying that you are okay with what they did nor you are okay and healed from the damage they did. It is saying this, "This burden is better on God than it is on me."
I Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you”. Forgiveness is to throw that burden off of ourselves and onto Jesus, and let him carry it.
God said that we don't have to get revenge. He says that He will take care of those who have hurt us (Romans 12:19-21). That's why forgiveness is putting it in the hands of the One who can take care of it.
Forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for you. Jesus said in Matthew that if you go to worship and know someone has something against you, leave and make it right and then come worship. Mark says that if you go to worship and you have something against someone else, you must stop and go make it right and then worship. Are these verses contradictory? No, the Lord is saying that whether you have something against someone or you know someone has something against you, it is on you to make it right. You hand it over to God so that you don't become eaten up with bitterness in your heart.
Now there are SO many questions concerning how this works between two people and the potential of reconciling, and I will try to hit them all. But for today's two-edged forgiveness, there is one side to forgive and the other side is the side of being the forgiver.
If you have truly forgiven someone, the Bible says that in love, you no longer bring up a record of that wrong. You don't rehash it and rehash it and beat the person up about what they did. You don't stand on their "emotional airhose" and not let them off the mat from the chokehold you have on them with your continual badgering about how they sinned against you. If they have sincerely apologized, it is time to put it in God's hands and leave it there.
And yet, (here's the other side of that sword) in the apology, you are not only sincerely saying that you are sorry (not sorry you got caught, but genuinely sorry that you sinned against another person and in so doing, you sinned against God, and you are broken over that) for the way your words and actions have hurt someone, but you are also sincerely saying and implying that you are going to try, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to not do it ever again.
Saying Sorry means You Will Try, with the Help of the Holy Spirit, to Never Do It Again.
This is also missing in the teaching of the Church, but certainly wasn't missing in the teachings of Jesus.
The Bible says to "do the deeds in keeping with repentance". Jesus said so often, "Go and sin no more."
Let me clarify some other things also:
Forgiveness is not forgetting. God can forgive and remember it no more because His not remembering is no threat to Him. If you got a DUI and asked God and others to forgive you but you forgot, you'd find yourself driving under the influence again; if others forgot, they'd be giving you alcohol and keys to their car. God through Jesus can forgive and forget. But God gave us an ability to remember because we need it! If a child touches a hot stove and is burned, they need to remember so that they will not make that mistake again. Selah.
"Remember the heights from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Revelation 2:5
Forgiveness is not automatic reconciliation. Reconciliation is a process by which both parties seek to reconcile and restore the relationship. Automatic reconciliation is usually the worse thing that can be done because it insinuates that things are just going to be as if the hurt never happened. The fact is that it did happen and we don't need things to go back to the way they were. The way they were didn't work well! We all must look to God for revelation as to what part we played in the breakdown of the relationship and ask the Holy Spirit to help us live differently. Then, both parties offer grace as the other seeks to live out this new truth. John 1:14 says, "Jesus came with grace and truth." In relationship, you need both.
Sometimes, the hurt is so deep that there does not need to be reconciliation. There needs to be a parting of the ways. And that is okay. I will talk more about that in the next post.
God has given us the spirit of reconciliation and it is His desire that His children reconcile if at all possible. But, it takes humility on both parts, desire for change, and proof of change. It takes offering a lot of grace, knowing that the other may not always get it right.
There must be steps taken that both parties agree with, to move forward and to move back toward relationship. This is a process that takes time, energy, and patience toward restoration. There must also be any restitution that needs to be made, as further evidence of remorse, conviction, and desire for reconciliation. If something was stolen, you return it. If something was broken, you pay to have it fixed. And this is not just speaking of physical things. This is also speaking of emotional things. Even more so, the heart.
Forgiveness is truly made complete when the fruit of repentance comes forth with love towards that other person. Maybe not love enough to be best friends with them, but love enough that I can see them without any bad feelings bubbling up, and I can truly wish them well, and maybe even pray for them as the Spirit leads.
Forgiveness is complete when replaced with Fruit.
So let us remind our souls today that when we sincerely say that we are sorry for what we said or did, we are also saying that we will, with the help of the Holy Sprit, try to never do that again.
If you continue to do hurtful things, even after apologizing, the validity of your apology comes into question and your apology cannot be received as genuine.
Do the deeds in keeping with repentance. Actions speak louder than words. Say "I'm sorry", and then live a life that says it too.
You are loved,