Acts, #7 in the series
Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other. Lewis B. Smedes
While I am anxious to get to Acts chapter 2, it will have to wait another day.
I received a phonecall--someone who had read "Something to learn from Judas", https://conta.cc/3gL3N3l, our last Morning Briefing, wanted to talk about it. You remember - we were wrapping up chapter one of Acts, with discussion about Judas, who took his own life after betraying our Lord, looking to move past betrayal and begin the process of healing through choosing to forgive. Aye. . . forgiveness is a choice, you know.
The caller said the briefing was just what he needed; he knew he had to move past being mistreated by his boss at work--namely, the boss giving another man the position he deserved. The caller had been devastated by the decision, and how it had affected him professionally and personally. Yes, it was time to forgive. . . time to move on. So, a little more on forgiveness.
How about you?
Who do you need to forgive? ______________ _____________ _______________
What did they do? (putting pen to paper is the first step in seeing for yourself the issue)_______________________________________________________________
You might even learn something about yourself by writing on paper who you need to forgive--you may see that you have perhaps been a harsh taskmaster--each bears something in common, your expectations might have been unknown or simply too high or too much.
definition: forgive: pardon, excuse for a fault or offense, renounce anger or resentment against; absolve from payment for a debt
Just in case you are on the fence about forgiving someone, consider what Jesus had to say: 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.1 ouch.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.`2
Still not convinced you should forgive? You might look at this LA Times article called "Forgive and Be Well". . . I've had it in my files since 2007; it cites research that forgiveness "can improve cardiovascular function, diminish chronic pain, relieve depression and boost quality of life". . . while "failure to forgive may, over a lifetime, boost a person's risk for heart disease, mental illness and other ills. . ." The research also indicates that forgiveness is a skill that can be learned.3 Hmmm. . .
A great article.
I asked my caller a few questions:
Why is it difficult to forgive your former boss? because what he did was unjust, and I feel a need for justice; it feels like if I forgive him, I am denying justice, and accepting the unforgiveness
Why do you want to forgive him then? for the healing process, to get rid of the bad feelings, anger, frustration, which decrease my energy level and damage my spirit, and. . . well, hurt me spiritually as well, and because I am not following my teachings; forgiveness is divine. It is what our Lord teaches us. . .
Forgiving a person causes them to inspect their own behavior.
I consider it a failure when I don't forgive; a success, when I do.
If Jesus could forgive the people who did what they did to Him, and then died on the Cross for my sins, how can I not forgive? Wow, do you get the feeling he may have thought about this a little before I asked the questions? He had ready answers.
So you realize you need to forgive someone, but how do you do it? Are there any steps to be taken? I believe so.
1. Recognize that you need to forgive the person who injured you (whether or not he knows it, whether or not she seeks forgiveness)
2. Commit to forgiveness. Come on, make a commitment to forgive him. Don't just decide... commit.
3. Ask God to help you forgive, to release the bitter or hurt feeling you have and give it to God.
4. Pray for the person, for his or her wellbeing.
One tool used to forgive people: I wrote down the names of six particular people. I remember very clearly getting on my knees and envisioning a little leather pouch and, after writing out the people's names on little pieces of paper, I put them in the bag and tightened it up. I wrote the word "Forgiveness" on the outside. In my mind's eye, I knelt down and laid that bag at the cross, saying, "God, in view of all that You've forgiven me, I am letting this go. I am leaving it behind. I am releasing them from the obligation that resulted when they injured me." Life changing! Life giving!
We know the disciples must have spent some time expressing their shock and anger toward Judas, trying to figure out how to forgive him and move forward. Give us the courage to forgive. . . as You forgave us. Teach us to be gracegivers. Set us free. Amen.
Maybe you need to 'TURN IT OVER' Zach Williams, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rePUJW8IGL4
1 - Matthew 6.14-15
2 - Paul, Colossians 3.13
3 - LA Times article, Forgive and Be Well? https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2007-dec-31-he-forgiveness31-story.html