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Posts Tagged ‘unforgiveness’

Pursue Peace

September 28th, 2016

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Peace is well worth pursuing.

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today urge you to “pursue peace.”

The value of peace is inestimable. “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:16 NIV. Tranquility is too valuable to live without. Those who lack peace most know its irreplaceable value best. There is peace of mind. There can be peace with your past and about the future. There should be peace in your marriage, home, and relationships. There is peace with others. But peace with God is the most essential and most cherished. ”Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV. When peace with God is lacking, peace within yourself and with others is absent altogether, or at least diminished.

Let’s look at peace with others. What you cannot do is guarantee that every difference with others can be resolved mutually. Jesus understood that people, far from perfect and living in a fallen world, will give and take offence. In a strained and problematic situation, you must accept that sometimes the best thing you can do is just to not add to the situation further. However, your part of the problem, whether small or large, must be settled righteously. First, resolve in your heart that you have done everything you know to do, and commit that you will do anything God asks you to do.

The Bible’s wise counsel is: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV. The steps for, “as far as it depends on you,” are fairly straight forward, but rarely pain free. Recognize how you have contributed to an offense. Ask God and the other party to forgive you. Make amends as they are needed. Forgive without waiting to be asked. Allow God time to work in hearts – yours and theirs – for restoration of the relationship as time and grace will allow.

Regrettably, we all contribute to a few of such circumstances. At times, you may have little inclination to either give or seek forgiveness. Unforgiveness and resentment will only bear bitter fruit in your heart and painful relationships in your life. When you feel hurt, accepting God’s terms for healing might take time and prayer, but will certainly require humility. Sometimes you will want to, “fix it,” but often cannot. As God works grace and forgiveness within you, allow God to work in other hearts as well, in His time and theirs.

Be wary of storing hurtful memories when feeling wronged or misunderstood. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.” Hebrews 12:14 NIV. I think the simplest understanding of Jesus’ teaching is this: whenever and wherever your desire for peace is refused, don’t leave with less than the peace and blessing with which you came nor carry their spiritual and emotional baggage as you leave. Read Matthew 10:12-14 NKJV. Peaceably, go your way with only good will. “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:10-11 NIV. Peace is well worth pursuing. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to value God’s sufficiency of grace when received or extended.

Christian Communications 2016

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Prayer and God’s Forgiveness

March 7th, 2014

“Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive . .” Matthew 6:12 TEV.

For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s forgiveness.”

Thus far in our study of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we have examined, “The Pattern and Practice of Prayer,” “Prayer and God’s Sovereignty,” “Prayer and God’s Kingdom,” and “Prayer and God’s Providence.” Prayer also involves the practice of receiving and extending forgiveness.

Living without forgiveness results in soul-damaging condemnation, a heavy burden you were never meant to bear. Who has not needed to be forgiven by God and man? The Bible is clear; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” See Romans 3:23-26 NKJV. This truth offers bad news and good. We all need to be forgiven; we all need to forgive. See Mark 11:25 NIV.

Here’s how the process works: conviction of sin, confession of sin, cleansing from sin, or condemnation due to sin. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” See 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV. Be warned. If confession is not made, the Accuser imposes condemnation which worsens as confession is delayed. David suffered greatly when he failed to deal with his sin. His testimony is: “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable . . Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me . . Create in me a pure heart, O God.”  Psalm 32:1-5/51:1-4/10-12 NIV.

In Jesus’ model prayer, He taught, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.’” Matthew 6:12 TEV. The word, “wrongs,” is correctly and variously translated as, “debts or sins.” Elaborating further on His words, Jesus said specifically, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt 6:14-15 NIV. Whether described as debts, sins, or wrongdoing, they come large and small.

Forgiving is neither optional nor easy, but is essential for spiritual health and growth. The measure and nature of your treatment of others determine what comes back to you – from others and from God. “Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. If you give, you will receive. [What you give] will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving – large or small – it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:37-38 NLT. Let me simplify Jesus’ words, “For good or bad, you get what you give, but in multiplied measure.” Unforgiveness of others is an unkindness you impose on yourself. Read Matthew 18:22-35 NIV.

The ability to forgive others flows from your experience of lavish, unmerited forgiveness from God. “In Him we have . . the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 1:7-8/4:32 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace and extend God’s forgiveness.

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Faults and Forgiveness

January 15th, 2014

“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.” Colossians 3:13 NLT.

The power to forgive comes from your being forgiven.

My thoughts and comments today are about “faults and forgiveness.”

Forgiveness is difficult. Let no one tell you otherwise. Forgiveness is difficult because it cuts across the pettiness and selfishness in your nature. Forgiveness is grace extended with the realization that, “Words or actions have hurt me, but that person is more important in my life than the hurt I feel right now. I forgive.” A relationship survives when the offended is merciful, not when the offender is punished.

You are neither at the mercy of the offender nor the offence. A wonderful truth about forgiveness is this: you can forgive unilaterally without any corresponding initiative or recognition by another, other than the extended supply of God’s grace and the satisfaction of His approval. Forgiveness is a gift to the offender without being earned; but more importantly, forgiveness is an act of worship to God and a healing gift to yourself. Years ago, I read a simple poem, “He drew a circle that left me out . .  But love and I had the wit to win, We drew a circle that took him in.” Edward Markham. That’s forgiveness.

The Bible teaches, “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves, you must clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you so you must forgive the person who offends you” Colossians 3:12-13 NLT. The power to forgive comes from your being forgiven. “Be kind and loving to each other just as God forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:32 NCV. Because Jesus has forgiven you, you can forgive others.

Forgiveness is difficult. But do you know what is even more difficult? Unforgiveness! And the longer unforgiveness lingers on your calendar, the harder for it to leave your heart. This is Godly advice, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no man will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV.Continuing to harbor your hurt and disappointment allows opportunity for greater harm than the original offence. Bitterness is better avoided than resisted.

Unforgiveness allows your remonstrative self-justification, “I was hurt by words or actions and I don’t have room in my heart to forgive that person right now.” Unforgiveness gradually develops a self-righteous judgment. Paul warned, ”Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . .” Read Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV. Who initiates forgiveness and reconciliation? The offender or the offended?

Jesus advised the offender, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you . . first, go and be reconciled, then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 NIV. Your relationship with others impacts your relationship with God, and vice versa. Jesus also instructed the offended, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Matthew 18:15 NIV. The burden of bridge building falls on the strong rather than the weak; be strong. Read Romans 15:1-7 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you are willing to forgive and ready to restore.

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A Forgiving Heart

May 6th, 2013

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your Father will forgive you.”  Matthew 6:15 NLT.

A forgiving heart offers love undeserved and unmeasured.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a forgiving heart.”

There will not be a shortage of offenses, nor a lack of opportunities – really necessities – to have and express a forgiving heart. “It is impossible that no offenses should come . . “ Luke 17:1 NKJV. Your personal experience will confirm that reality, and the Bible’s counsel is, “Get rid of all bitterness . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV.

Relationships create an emotional proximity that occasionally results in misunderstandings, minor and major. When someone hurts or fails you, remember your own need for grace. When disappointed in a relationship, the grace of God is readily available to you; don’t depreciate God’s provision and nor delay claiming it. Pay attention to the Bible’s warning: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 NIV. The bitter fruit of an unforgiving heart is a disposition that colors your life, interpreting the past and projecting the future.

The time immediately following an offense is precarious. Don’t let moments become minutes which soon extend to hours, days, and longer until the hurt grows bigger in your thoughts and settles deeper in your feelings. Forgiveness, or unforgiveness, is not as complicated as people make them to be; it’s simple really. Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Romans 12:21,Matthew 6:14-15 NLT.

The Kingdom of God sets a high standard but not an impossible one. An unforgiving heart imposes self-inflicted wounds to one’s spirit. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NIV. It has helped me to differentiate between forgiveness and pardon. Forgiveness is honest about hurts while releasing to God all rights of either retribution or pardon. People can forgive; only God can pardon. Only God has perfect knowledge and sufficient grace to pardon.

Forgiveness does not claim wrong to be right, nor does it deny guilt. A forgiving heart offers love undeserved and unmeasured, neither self-imposing consequences nor demanding God withholds mercy and grace. Such a benevolent act of grace releases God to pardon, if He wills. Paul understood the purpose and extent of grace; “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” Read Romans 2:1-11 NIV.

My prayer this day for you is that you will trust God to set wrongs right with others.

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Offenses

March 1st, 2013

“Forgiving each other, just as . . God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV.

Forgiveness occurs only when you release the offense and offender to God.

Your innocence does not preclude the possibility of another’s offense. Life will have plenty of wrongs and hurts. When those occur and they will, what happens in you is more important than what happened to you. What happens to you is just for a moment; what happens in you can affect you deeply and negatively. You should not give anyone the power to impose upon your inner life. Do not let what was external become internal.

Paul gave sound instruction, “Get rid of all bitterness . . along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV.  A lot of unpleasant and unprofitable things can occur, such as negative feelings, unholy passions, unhealthy emotions, distracted thoughts, misdirected attention, revengeful plans, wasted time, as well as broken hearts and damaged relationships. See Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV.

Often enough, the worst pain from an offense is frequently self-inflicted. What has been done will be hurtful enough; don’t add more pain to it. You can’t get over your pain until you get past the hurt; you won’t get past the hurt until you give the offense to God. There is one sure cure; that cure is forgiveness. Forgiveness does not involve feeling different about what has happened; forgiveness is a unilateral choice to release another person, or persons, from accountability to you. Place their offense and your pain into God’s hands. Forgiveness occurs only when you release the offense and offender to God.

Paul wrote to Christians in Rome who endured much more than offenses; they suffered severe, religious persecution. His instruction? “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NIV. That would appear to me to be more easily said than done, but it needs be said and it must be done. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.”  Vs. 17-19 NIV.

It may be an oversimplification, but I would summarize Paul’s counsel this way: don’t insert yourself into God’s way. My Dad’s advice was both similar and simple, “Two wrongs never make a right.” God will deal with offenders and their offenses; don’t make it necessary for Him to deal with yours also. Choosing to do what’s right is the only way you heal a wrong.

“Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-14 NIV. You fail to forgive another when you fail to remember the amazing grace with which God has forgiven you. Unforgiveness is a costly thing to hold tightly. Unforgiveness inflicts more suffering on you than on the person you fail to forgive. Forgive; be kind to yourself and pleasing to God. What a deal.

My prayer for you this day is that you will be quick to forgive and willing to forget.

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