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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Do We Know What We Are Doing When We Refuse Forgiveness?

I sometimes despair over the faith of those who call themselves believers who attend church almost every week and have so little faith that they are indistinguishable from those who exist outside the church. I wonder: Do they understand? Do they know what they are doing?

The blog I wrote "When Someone Will Not Forgive You" continues to get several hits every day. Thousands of people have read it. Many of those have written me personal emails telling of their heartache because of someone who fails to forgive. Too many of these people tell me that hose who are holding a grudge claim to be believers. I am having a hard time understanding this.

Jesus asks His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him because they didn't know what they were doing. The very nature of our faith is found right here. Jesus forgives those who beat Him, gambled for His clothes and falsely accused Him. He sttates His forgiveness as He speaks to His Father. It is the same statement He makes for us. Each one of us who receives Him should know His forgiveness. How can we thus refuse forgiveness for others?

Do we believe that the offenses against us are greater than the ones Jesus forgave? Do we somehow believe that we have a right to judge those who have hurt us even though Jesus has paid for their sins on the cross? How can we lack the understanding that we must forgive? How can we say that we have invited Him into our own hearts if we refuse to act with new hearts?

Many of the people who have written me private emails have told me wha tthey have done to hurt those who refuse to forgive them. None of them justified their sins. They recognized that their actions were egregious. They didn't claim they had a right to be forgiven. They just expressed their heartache and asked what they could do to gain forgiveness.

Unfortunately, no one gains forgiveness. It is a gift. However, it is a gift given to believers that cannot exist without being given to others. In other words, you don't possess it if you don't give it away.  Anyone claiming to be a believer should seek the Lord Jesus with all their hearts when they are hurt so deeply that they can't forgive. It is only in Him that they will find the forgiveness necessary to forgive under certain circumstances.

Sometimes I think that people believe they will forgive when the pain goes away. I don't see that in Jesus forgiveness. Forgivenesss is given in the midst of the pain. It doesn't embrace the pain. It clings to the Lord. It employs His forgiveness.

If you are having trouble forgiving someone, try praying this prayer in ernest: Jesus I am hurt by what (name of person) did to me. I feel (say what you feel). I do not have the strength to forgive (name) on my own. I recognize that You died on the Cross for this sin which was committed against You and me. I, therefore, have no right to claim a higher righteousness than Yours. I have no right to hold out for judgement against (name). I, therefore, forgive in Your Name. I ask for Your forgiveness to surround me so that I will also forgive (name). I depend upon your power and thus pray this prayer in Jesus Name. Amen

This is not a one time prayer for some things that are done against us. You will think that you have put it all behind you when the memory, pain and anger return. You just have to pray it again and again until you know the forgiveness of Jesus which forgives through you.

Many believers hold onto their lack of forgiveness. They are damaged forever because they fail to forgive. I don't think they know what they are doing. I don't think they know who they are hurting.

Luke 23:34 (ESV) 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

2 comments: said...

At my own blogsite, I have a 3 part article series on this topic, which I have done a thorough study on; I even preached on it. What you said here is right. I just want to rehash the need for us to forgive as God forgave, i.e. Col 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV 1984)

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].(Amplied Bible)

The Amplied Bible put it well, the interpretation of the verse. From the overall counsel of the Word, it is clear that Col 3:13 is calling for us to forgive, regardless. It matters NOT the person who hurt you, repent or NOT, sorry or NOT, ask you for forgiveness or NOT. It is you have to forgive the person, regardless, by grace.

In plain English, this is what Col 3:13 reads: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive in the same way the Lord forgave you.

How did the Lord forgive you? He forgave you by grace. Did you merit His forgiveness? No. When we are yet sinner, He forgives us, without us doing anything to merit our forgiveness. The Lord forgave freely, and so, must we. And we are told by Scripture to, “Freely we receive, freely we give”.

Some people would say, “Brother Anthony, are you sure it is the right thing to do, to release forgiveness to a person without the person even showing any sign of knowing he was wrong? It appears contrary to the overall counsel of the Word!” Now, we need to know, forgiving a person from the heart, and releasing forgiveness to the person are 2 separate things. Forgiving a person from the heart is a must and you must NOT tarry. This is the one I say, you must do regardless, and do by grace. And Ps Prentis’ teaching that when the hurt is very bad, we need to go to the Lord for more grace to forgive.

Really, forgiving the person from the heart and releasing forgiveness to the person are 2 separate things. Otherwise, you might be too late to forgive! Suppose you have NOT forgiven, and the person who hurt you, passed away; now, how are you going to release your forgiveness to him? It is no longer possible, but it is still possible for you to forgive the person and you must still forgive the person. Get my point; you have to, first of all, forgive the person from your heart, and then at a suitable time, release your forgiveness to the person.

Now if the person is before you, and you cannot say “I forgive you” when he asks you for forgiveness, it only goes to show you have NOT forgiven the person from your heart, in the first place. The release of forgiveness needs to take into account, timing, because we are also to be our brother’s keeper. Scripture teaches us that so long as there is prima facie evidence of the person admitting/knowing he is wrong, we are to (must) release the forgiveness, but NOT necessary before that (The scripture text and the exposition of that, I will NOT do here). Jesus on the Cross, and Stephen at his stoning, both exemplified the need to forgive, regardless.

Cont... said...

Cont. from above

The seriousness of this, is reflected at the end of the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (don’t ask me why, the other Gospel Books did NOT have it). The Matthew version has this verse:

Matt 6:15 - But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The entire text, I give you here (Matt 6:9-15, NIV1984):

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

If you think there is no other place pointing to the same – try reading the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, and you will see that it ended with this: for the one NOT being forgiving, God would do the same; the one NOT being forgiven was tormented; God would do the same to one NOT forgiving. From ministry experience, we have found that it is NOT uncommon that ministees who are in torment of some sort, have unforgiveness issue; and when the latter is dealt with properly, breakthrough comes.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions