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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Forgiveness Comes from the Heart

Most of us have seen "The Christmas Story." We watch the movie each year knowing that Ralphie will finally get the "Red Rider BB Gun with a compass in the stock." Christmas Day comes, Ralphie passes out all the presents and opens all that he can see are his. His dad asks if Ralphie has gotten all that he wanted. Of course, he hasn't but tries to make the best of it. This is when his dad points out one more gift. There is the bb gun that Ralphie has hoped for.

I suppose that has been my own experience this morning as I read the scriptures and reflected on my own misgivings. I realized that for all my desire to forgive others that I held a serious grudge against someone. I remembered the pain he had and has caused me. I wished that his life was as painful as mine has been because of the hurt.

I know that I am supposed to forgive. I know that my relationship with God is hindered by my own forgiveness. Yes, I know it but this didn't stop me from feeling what I did this morning. So, I did what I so often do when I need an answer for the problem: I went to the scriptures.

I read Matthew 18:21-35. Peter asks if he should forgive his brother as many as seven times. Jesus told him that forgiveness should be much more than that. I don't actually think Jesus was giving a strict number. Some translations say the number is seventy-seven others say it is seventy times seven. It doesn't matter; I have tried to forgive this particular sin that many times and more.

The problem isn't that I have forgiven it that many times. The problem is that I haven't really forgiven it at all. I realized that this lack of forgiveness was coming out in my life in my own estimation of myself as well. I have been condemning  myself for many of the things I have done. I haven't just confessed them but I have lacked forgiveness for these things. I have failed to realize the forgiveness that I should have had.

In other words, though I had never connected the two before, I did not know the forgiveness I should have received while I was not granting the forgiveness for something which had been done against me a very long time ago. I needed to pay close attention here. I cannot say, "I forgive," without actually forgiving. The lack of forgiveness results in a lack of forgiveness.

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV) 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I wasn't truly forgiving. I was going through the motions. I was covering up the hatred that I felt rather than truly ridding myself of it.

I thought that I had opened all the presents that God has for me when it comes to forgiveness. I realized the payment of the cross for all sins. I had failed to notice the forgiveness that I really needed to give. I wanted relief and noticed Matthew 18:35.

Matthew 18:35 (ESV) 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The problem (and the gift) was right in front of me. I had not forgiven "from my heart." I had tried to forgive with my intellect. I tried to forgive because I knew it was the right thing to do. I tried to forgive so that I could say that I had forgiven.

The problem was not in my head but in my heart. Do you think that is where all our sins reside?

I discovered that I could not forgive certain sins any more than I could clean up my own sins. I didn't need the intellectual knowledge of Jesus' forgiveness I needed His heart of forgiveness. I was never going to be rid of my feelings of hatred and revenge as long as I lacked His forgiveness.

So, I am admitting: I have tried and I just simply can't do it. I can't forgive some of the sins against me because I just don't have the heart for it. But Jesus does and if He truly resides in my heart as I say He does, then I will know that forgiveness by His own forgiveness for sin. He has forgiven and He continues to forgive through me.

Now, I know the forgiveness for my own sin. That, too, is in my heart.


Anonymous said...

The Parable of the unmerciful servant is one of the most appropriate parables to meditate upon to receive revelations about the subject of forgiveness.  These can be gleaned from the parable, directly or indirectly:

1. To err is human, is really common.  It is similar to the saying in Scripture (1 John 1:10) that if one says that he has no sin, he is saying God is a liar.  In other words, we do sin, and we do wrong another, although of course, we are not to sin or wrong another; we are exhorted in Scripture (Heb 12:4) to resist sins.  

In the Parable, one servant wronged the master by owing the master so much, that he was unable to repay.  Then another servant wronged the earlier servant by owing the first mentioned servant some, and unable to repay. It is not difficult to find ourselves wronging people, even though my weakness maybe different from that of another, and so, in what area I would wrong another, it may be different from that of another individual; we all have our own weaknesses.  

It is important we understand this point.  Even if we have improved upon our weaknesses, we must always remember it has been with the help and grace of God.  We are saints, but we were once sinners; even as saints, we still err, and wrong another, from time to time. We have become better, if we indeed have become better, it was the sanctification work by God.

2. We are all servants of the same master. All believers are disciples, and are servants of the Lord.  And then, we also know we are children of God, and so, are brothers.  All the same, disciples, servants or children, we are to please the same master or Lord or God.  How our master wants us to treat each other, we have to obey.  In other words, if God wants us to be tolerant with one another, and to forgive one another, we have to obey that desire of the master.  One of the problems with us, is that some of us are not fully embracing the lordship of our Saviour.  When we don't accept that, we would be reluctant to obey the desires of our Saviour, such as to forgive one another.

3. The master himself modeled it for us, in regard to forgiveness.  In the parable, the master forgave the first mentioned servant despite that servant owe much and could not repay, and so, wronged the master much.  In other words, the master forgave much. 

Our God forgave us much, at our entry into salvation.  We were already condemned to Hell, yet God forgave us, by grace; meaning we did not earn or merit that forgiveness.  Col 3:13 said that we ought to forgive as God forgave us.  How did God forgive you? Me?  

By grace; and so, we too, ought to forgive one another, by grace.  God forgave us much, and so, too, we must forgive much, one another.  In the parable, the first mentioned servant did not want to forgive the second servant who owed him much lesser than the first mentioned servant owed to the master.  The first servant was not only unwilling to forgive the second servant, he got the second servant to be thrown into jail. That obviously was patterning after the master.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

4. We are pardoned, how can we NOT also pardon our neighbors.  In the parable, it is pointed to us that if we do not forgive, God too, will not forgive. 

The master got hold of the first servant, and did the same that the latter did to the second servant, sent him to the jailer, and to be tormented too.   Then we also have it at the end of the Lord's Prayer as recorded by Apostle Matthew, that God will not forgive us, if we, as believers, do not first forgive others (Matt 6:15).  

5. Practice of forgiveness is practice of love.  God's forgiveness of our sins is love.  John 3:16 said that God loved us so much that He gave His Son, Jesus, to die for us, so that we can be forgiven of our sins.  

It is very possible that when we do not forgive another, especially when that person asked us for it, that, that person would be tormented by our unforgiveness.  This, I believe is the reason, the parable had it that the first servant was sent to the jailer to be tormented.  

Scripture said, how we judged another, God could apply the same to us.  Our unforgiveness could torment the offender, and so, God too, could send us to be tormented.  Obviously, to have another tormented by your unforgiveness, is not loving. It is no wonder God views this forgiveness and unforgiveness issue very seriously, and unforgiveness is found to be the root of many ills of a person's life, including sickness, demonization, and lack of breakthroughs, even when seeking ministry.

6. Don't forgive means you love NOT your neighbors, it means you are disobeying God, it means you don't love God. 

Scripture also said if we do not love our brothers, we do not love God.  Those who don't love God, he cannot expect to go live with God in Heaven, can he!  If NOT Heaven, then Hell it will be. To be in Heaven is to have blissful life, to be in Hell, on the other hand, is to be tormented.

Have I dealt with the "from the heart"? Directly no, but indirectly, yes.  Indeed, forgiveness has to be from the heart.  In fact, to me, there is no forgiveness, if it is not from the heart.  When I share about forgiveness (because I minister in area of divine healing, forgiveness is an important topic and issue in my ministry), I talk about it in terms of forgiveness from the heart, and the release of forgiveness.  Before I explain the release of forgiveness, let me explain why I said I have indirectly dealt with forgiving from the heart.

We find it difficult to forgive (from the heart), because we have not understood enough about forgiveness, including some of the points raised above, and we have not value-discerned it, forgiveness, correctly, that it is so precious to receive forgiveness, and to forgive (from the heart), and even to release it.  Scripture has a lot to say about forgiveness (a 2 dozen points sermon is not difficult to come up with) and so, we ought to study it, and teach it.  Many lives are incapacitated by unforgiveness.  Many people's lives would be much more wholesome had they let go of their unforgiveness for others, and even for themselves. Lives are also in torments because they received not, the release of forgiveness by those they have offended.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

Is not forgiveness and release of forgiveness the same? What is release of forgiveness?  No, forgiveness (from the heart) and release of forgiveness are not the same.  Let me explain. First, we have to forgive (from the heart).  In fact, we have to forgive, regardless!  We also are not to delay forgiving.  It is we forgive, regardless.  Yes, regardless.  It does not depend on whether or not, the offender is repentant or not, sorry or not, know that he has done wrong or not.  It is you have to forgive in your heart, regardless.  Remember, forgiveness is by grace; that is how God forgives, and we have to, likewise.  So, it is not dependent on the offender who had done the wrong against you; it is simply you have to forgive (from your heart, in your heart).

Before you can release your forgiveness to another, you must first have forgiven the person from your heart.  You don't wait until the offender is remorseful before you forgive, or when the offender apologizes before you forgive. You forgive, regardless.  

To forgive, and to release the forgiveness are two matters.  Of course, if you have not forgiven (from the heart, in the heart), you have nothing to release.  And when the offender asks you for forgiveness, and you cannot release it to him, it means you have not forgiven him from your heart.  We do not wait, to forgive, we do not tarry, but we only release our forgiveness at the appropriate time.  When is the appropriate time, is guided by "we are our brother's keeper"; in other words, we are to avoid stumbling another.  

I give us a simple example: suppose you are on a public transport, a bus. A fellow passenger stepped on your foot. It is of course, painful. You looked and you realized the person was your new neighbor who has just shifted into the neighborhood. What are the things you are to do?  First, you forgive the neighbor, from your heart, straightaway; in your heart you forgive him.  

You don't apologize to the neighbor, for you did not step on him; he stepped on you.  Neither do you release your forgiveness to him yet, saying, "I forgive you", if he has not said or indicated he is sorry.  If he pretends nothing has happened, you do not say, "I forgive you".  

If he says he is sorry or he apologizes, you have to release your forgiveness to him.  You cannot, for example, say, "you let me step on your foot, back, and I will forgive you". If you demand you step him back, then you are not forgiving him; it is you have demanded he pays! You have not forgiven him, from your heart. 

You have to forgive, regardless, or you  will be allowing resentment to build up in you against your new neighbor.  And resentments can lead to bitterness.  Resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness can be a bitter root for all kinds of ills in one's life.  So, you do have to forgive, from your heart.  And at the appropriate time, release it, and when the appropriate time has come, you have to release it, otherwise  it is indicative of your not having forgiven the person (from the heart, in the heart).

How many times must you forgive another?  Every time!  But it does not mean you necessarily have to continue to place yourself to be the punching bag of another, so to speak.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Anonymous said...

In my above comment, for point 3, inevitably I have left out "NOT" in the last sentence of that point - obviously NOT patterning after the master

My apology.

Anthony Chia