Friday, September 14, 2012

A lesson in Forgiveness

Forgiveness.... God has been teaching me about forgiveness lately.  I have heard it said that "Not forgiving someone is like you drinking poison, and hoping the other person will die."  Unforgiveness is a deadly contamination that turns even the nicest person bitter very quickly.  The only reason I know that is because I have been there!!  (Just to be clear, I have never wanted anyone to die....that is just a saying....but I have let bitterness creep up in my heart, because I harbored unforgiveness.)

Jesus told us we are supposed to forgive 70 x 7 times (essentially forever, always) Matthew 18:22.  I used to think you did this because God says so and that was the end of that.  But it turns out that God had other things in mind, our protection.  Not forgiving people damages us.  It turns us into people we do not want to become, people we don't even recognize.

Recently I found myself re-living a situation over and over in my head.  I was offended and a few of my close friends heard all about it, more than once.  I watched myself get grumpier, bitter, unhappy, not content and it started spilling into my family life and how I interacted and reacted.  I felt very oppressed and I couldn't figure out what was going on.  I went and saw Joyce Meyer when she was here last month.  During the worship I just felt I couldn't even praise, talk about a spirit of heaviness.  I leaned over to my good friend, and said "Could you pray for me? I am just struggling."  She replied with, "I will, and....have you forgiven them yet?".  That was a revelation by the Holy Spirit.  Honestly the thought had not even crossed my mind.  Forgive? I didn't even know I needed to.  I was being torn into on the inside, by a silent enemy.

I thought "Forgive?!  How do I even do that?  It still hurts."  But I knew my friend was right, and what I needed to do was just that.  But how to go about that? I instantly asked God for help and direction.  He put this verse on my heart "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they do" Luke 23:34 said by Jesus as he died.  I realized I could and would forgive, because that is what God did for me, and I would do it through the strength of Jesus.  Jesus of all people could relate with me (what a savior we have!)  There he was dying on the cross at the hands of the very people he came to save and forgave them and pleaded on their behalf because they acted in ignorance.  They didn't know they were killing God, the son.  ("None of the rulers of this age understood it, For if they had, they would have never killed the Lord of Glory" 1 cor 2:8 )  How compassionate, full of mercy and Love is our God?!

I was totally taken off guard and couldn't believe I hadn't even thought to forgive.  I asked Jesus to help me in my weakness and he did.  He is strong, he is my strength.  I felt a weight lift and I was able to worship and thank my amazing God.  Joyce started speaking immediately on how important it is for us to forgive.  God was trying to tell me something!  He for sure got my attention.  My unforgivess tore at me for 2 weeks, and I didn't even realize it was going on.  God taught me that getting offended and staying offended was not worth it.  It is not how God wants us living, oppressed, angry, bitter all the time.  It is for freedom Christ has set us free.  God wants us to love others.  If we haven't forgiven them, how can we even begin to love them?

I learned an important lesson, I realized I need to "Think about what I am thinking about" -Joyce Meyer. I need to remember to take EVERY thought/situation captive. I heard the following story by Mandisa.  On American Idol, A judge had made fun of her appearance and this was her reaction: 

“You hurt me,” she said to Simon on that show. “It was painful. It really was. But I want you to know that I have forgiven you. You don’t need someone to apologize in order to forgive somebody. I figured that if Jesus could die so that all of my sins could be forgiven, I could certainly extend that same grace to you.” -Mandisa. AMEN!!!.

Amazing!  People are going to say stuff, they may have no idea they hurt you, or they may have said it intentionally.  That hurts, but what hurts us even more is unforgiveness.  If we can react like Mandisa did, instantly take those thoughts captive and not let it get a root and say I am going to forgive you, because I too was forgiven, then we can live in freedom, as Jesus did.  All he did was proclaim forgiveness and freedom for the captives.  I am choosing today, no longer will I be held in a prison of unforgiveness!  The enemy will not oppress me and tear me up with bitterness.  Jesus died to save me from all that.  I hope you will join me in letting go of past hurts and walk in forgiveness, through the strength of Christ, all things are possible.  He is ready and willing to help.  

Here is a great sermon on Forgiveness by T.D. Jakes

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