Sunday, October 4, 2015

Forgiveness: Hard Lessons to Learn



 I started to write a blog about the importance of friends and family in the ministry, but as I was writing it, I found that it was turning more to forgiveness.  Forgiveness has really been heavy on my heart.  

    My search about forgiveness began in the Bible, of course.  I found over 200 references to forgiveness in the Bible.  It was a time of reading a lot of eye-opening and soul searching verses.  What I have found as I was studying is that forgiveness takes three steps. 

                                Step 1:  Takes a person asking for forgiveness. 

                                Step 2:  The verbal act of accepting the forgiveness. 

                                Step 3:  The emotional act (the heart) of accepting the forgiveness.

    When someone asks for forgiveness, most are thinking that the person will forgive them.   In order to ask for forgiveness, the person asking must have recognition.  The asking for forgiveness is the recognition that their actions or words hurt someone they care about or love. They realize that they need to ask for forgiveness because of the hurt and actions.  Do they expect forgiveness to be immediate, no; but their hope is forgiveness.  The question arises of what is the time frame for forgiveness?  Honestly if we use Jesus as our example it is to be immediate.  Definitely not a human trait. 

    The next step is the acceptance.  Acceptance of forgiveness is difficult especially if the hurt is deep.  However throughout the Bible we find that God says over and over again we are to forgive.  In fact one of the key verses is when Jesus is speaking and one of the disciples asks how often and Jesus replies, seven times seven fold.   Doing the math alone, it is an infinite number.  So being a follower of Jesus, we are not only supposed to forgive, but are commanded to forgive.  And forgiveness is not a one-time action; it is a multiple time action.

    The third and final act of forgiveness is the heart acceptance.  This is the toughest of all the steps.  This is where the human aspects of forgiveness exist.  It turns from giving “lip service” to the emotional support.  Many years ago, I faced a situation where I was asked to forgive a situation and the person.  It was easy to do the verbal acceptance of my forgiveness but the heart action was terribly hard.  Over time it happened.  However during this time as my heart was forgiving I lost the friendship and love with the person.  When my heart was ready I tried to get back the relationship with the person, but it was not to happen.  Recently I asked the person what happened and what I found out was even more heartbreaking to me.  I found out that during this time, my actions had hurt them more than their initial hurt had caused me.   Their comment was that they had reached out knowing they had caused hurt, but that although I said I forgave them, my actions told them a whole different story.  My heart was broken and my words of forgiveness are never going to be enough.  I lost a friend and a relationship that will never be the same.  What I learned was that you can say you forgive but there MUST be action to our words.  I also learned that when asked to forgive there should never be conditions added to your response.  Image if when we asked forgiveness from Jesus and He says I forgive you but…We are to learn to forgive like Jesus does.   Simple and once He says I forgive, we know it is gone.  I know what you are thinking….it is easier said/written then done.  You are right and that is why as we spend our time here, as Followers of Jesus, we are supposed to be becoming more like Jesus.  Sorry to be blunt and honest but it is the truth and I am struggling every day to become more like Jesus.  Not perfect (by far) but forgiven.

    Imagine what would happen if we went to Jesus to ask for forgiveness and He says yes but does not forgive us with His heart.  Where would we be today?  Where would we be at the Judgement Throne?  How would it be if Jesus said to the Father one of our sins that we had asked forgiveness for that sin, and Jesus says, “Father they asked for forgiveness but I just could not forgive them in my heart?”  That is why once we ask it is cleaned, wiped out, forgotten, gone as far as the east is from the west.  I am not sure about you but I ask forgiveness every day from Jesus for the stupid things I do.  I am glad that Jesus forgives me and they are gone.
    Why did I write this blog?  It is like I have said many times before, maybe what I write is something that you have struggled with or are struggling with.  But it really is something that I am struggling with. 

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