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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness is a choice’

What is the road we take toward each other,

and how do we show forth the love of Jesus,

even when our disappointment wells up fiercely in the gut

and threatens all we thought we knew about the other?

-Diedre Riggs

 

Months before I spoke words meant for all of us.

Foreshadowing .

A warning.

“We will offend one another, but we are called to bear with one another in love.”  Each of us smiled, heads nodding in agreement.  Sure of own hearts…certain of our own character…established in our faith.

But somehow…in some way….I managed to offend.  And in the space between us?  Instead of peace, compassion, love?  A spirit of dissension grew, fed by Dear Ones who follow hard after Jesus.

“There is a fine line between sharing concerns and gossiping,” one explained.  In the meantime, harsh words tore at the tender flesh of my heart like scalding water peels flesh off of bones.

Can you relate?  Have you ever been slighted, rejected, or even hated by those for whom you have prayed?  Cared for?  Done for?

Yesterday, a man ambled past our home.  I peered at him dismissively.  Garbed in low-hanging, baggy jeans, an orange beanie, and head hanging heavy I knew the neighborhood pot-head was heading toward The Place where he makes the sale.

Then the unwelcome whisper of conviction reminded my heart.  Guilty.  You are guilty of the same sin!  You may not have spoken the words, but you judged The Man.  What do you know about him….his life…his wounds?  He needs love….hope….forgiveness.  Pray for The Man—this one who is an enemy of all you believe.

And my spirit knows the truth.  I judge others unfairly….just as others may judge me unfairly.  Oh, may we learn to love like Christ!

Friend, when the Son of Man stood before his accusers and felt the weight of an unfair judgement—even a judgement to death—He refused to utter words of condemnation.  Instead, Christ loved The Man whose roughened, soiled hands marred the back of The Innocent with a razor-edged rope.    Instead, Christ forgave The Man who took pleasure in piercing the hands of The Innocent with hard edges and merciless pain.  And instead, Christ loved The Woman who had not yet been born.   I, too, would have been like the Dear Ones at the foot of the cross—perhaps hurling insults—or those cowering in fear in a hidden corner.  I don’t know Him!

We will offend one another, but we are called to bear with one another in love. Christ has borne all for us!  Oh, Church, let us do the same.

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Its about Time Series III’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions.  I guess I’ve always thought of it as something that seems mildly unimportant and easily dismissed–especially when a flourless chocolate torte in a pool of raspberry sauce looks tantalizingly delicious and I’m wearing a pair of forgiving, elastic-waisted slacks.

But this year, I’ve felt challenged to focus on a resolution, word, or phrase to represent an intended direction for 2013.  It’s a word I dread to put out there for everyone to read.  Why?  Because if I type the characters for you to read then I’ll be accountable for living my life accordingly.  And honestly, today I don’t want to claim this word as my own.  In fact, I would prefer Christ didn’t expect it of me.  Why?  Because I am hanging on to resentment…anger….and even a sense of self-righteousness regarding someone who hurt me long ago.  This is when living like Christ takes me to the core of who I am. I can see beneath the thin veneer of Christian-ese and I don’t like what I see.

But the word keeps pulsing in my head…forgive…forgive…forgive.  There it is–the word that continues to thrust itself to the edge of my conscience.  Maybe God has continued to place a thought, word, or verse of scripture on your heart this week or even throughout the day.  Is He calling you to lay your burden at his feet?  Is there something you clutch tightly to your chest because you’re afraid of what might happen if you give it to Him?  Perhaps He is whispering to you just as He did to me, “Put your resentment down, Child.  It’s an anchor holding you back from experiencing what I have planned for you.”  Or, perhaps there is another area He wants to claim for 2013.

Friend, let’s invite Him to do a work in us this year.  Will you join me?  Why not start today?

 

Verse for Reflection

2 Corinthians 5:16-18

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Invitation

Is there a defined area you believe God wants you to focus on this year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The heartache was raw in the words she had penned.  I thought I’d forgiven him, but then I realized I’m still angry.  This sweet woman struggled to understand how her emotions could betray her declaration of forgiveness.  She wanted to let go of the past and be released from the hold it held on her life.

Wondering how I might encourage her, these Bible verses came to mind.  Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?”   Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

Mulling over Christ’s words, I paused to consider them.  Was my understanding of forgiveness myopic?  What if Jesus’ words meant more than the traditional “forgive and forget”?

The image of a runner comes to mind.  I picture her falling as she sprints around a bend.  Pieces of gravel and dirt embed themselves in her skin, but she’s able to cleanse the wound.  All visible evidence of the injury is wiped away until, several days later, a painful shard of rock works its way to the surface–revealing its sharp edges.

On some occasions, we might be able to forgive an affront once and we’re done with it.  But there are times forgiveness is more like tending to a slow-healing wound.  We can only cleanse the injury when we realize that it goes deeper than expected.  Those injuries may require seven times–or, perhaps, seventy-seven times–the same level of care.  It’s a process of realization.  A process of healing.  A process of forgiveness.

Thought for Today

Who have you been reluctant to forgive?  How has your inaction impacted your life?

Begin praying for that person today.

Recommended Reading

Forgiveness is a Choice by Robert D. Enright

Forgiving the Unforgivable by Dave Stoop

 

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