Forgiveness is Complete

forgiveness

Matthew 18:27 tells us, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 

 

Forgiveness is actually canceling a debt. It is as if someone owes you one thousand dollars, and he or she cannot pay you back; you forgive the debt, never expecting to receive the money back.

The amount owed to you is no longer owed or expected.  You give up your right to seek the repayment of that debt. Forgiveness is bankruptcy; once filed, the creditor may not retrieve the debt, and it is wiped out. We need to see the cancellation of the debt as a write-off, and not some form of embezzlement. When we forgive, we forget; that is, we are no longer to even have the desire for restitution, pay back, or punishment.

There is a man, at a church where I was once on staff, who I admire greatly for exhibiting forgiveness in an instance that I do not think I could ever have done it; yet, with Christ, I should be able to, because all things are possible with Christ. His wife was murdered, indiscriminately, by a drive-by shooter in the Pasadena area a few years ago; she died in his arms. He realized that for him to go on with his life and faith, he needed to forgive that person. And, he did. Now, he did not tell the police to let the shooter go; forgiveness is not necessarily a release of the obligation, especially when a crime is committed. Rather, we, as Christians, are released from our personal desire for retribution. This form of forgiveness even prevents us from those “polite” sly remarks and glances; our revenge is repudiated…divorced from our desire to get even.

Forgiveness is so rare in our society. For it to become a powerful witnessing tool, it must be complete.

Forgiveness does not make light of the wrong, nor should it give a license to others to take advantage of us, but, they may. Yet, it is well worth it! Out of the completeness of forgiveness will come the forgetting. Then, out of the forgetting, will come the healing. The healing we get from forgiveness will close the wounds we receive; it will allow us to go on with life. It will prevent our sufferings and setbacks from becoming our identity and obsession. For, without forgiveness, we give in to the bitterness that will consume and take us over, that it may give us a purpose for existing, but not for living. If we just try to forget, then agonize over it, we will get nowhere; but, through the process of surrender (Galatians 2:20-21) will come the forgetting. Forgetting is a process, and we can not expect it to come right away.

We must be patient, let the process unfold, and embrace the forgiveness that Christ has given us. That man, who forgave his wife’s killer, took many agonizing months to do so. But, in the end, he and his remaining family were able to get on with their lives, and honor his wife’s memory by living life. Had he remained in bitterness, not only would his kids have become dysfunctional, but a total breakdown of that family would have occurred, and his wife’s memory would have been framed in bitterness, and not life! Forgiveness has to be complete; if not, it will not work, and you will not make it!

 

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Forgiveness in Marriage PIV

spouseforgiveIsaiah tells us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9

Ask yourself this question: How do I handle forgiveness?

How do you respond when your spouse forgives you?  What do you do with opportunities that our Lord has for you?

To get forgiveness to work, we must realize the generosity of Grace, and being in Christ, which we do not deserve. Our Lord does not want us to forgive begrudgingly, because, He did not forgive us with conditions, or with strings attached. A Christian that does not forgive is like a small child who refuses to share a game ball that he/she received as a gift. Thus, the child will not be able to play with that ball as it was designed to be used. That child will not be using it to its full potential, nor will there by any fun with it. When we do not forgive in marriage, we distort the relationship. We are like the child who, unable to play a game because they refuse to share the ball, cries that they is alone and nobody will play with them, or, cries because they are not having any fun. Can you see this connection in your home?

Without forgiveness, we forfeit our relationship with who is to be most important to us, and, we are unable to ‘play’ our marriage correctly and lovingly. We just end up cheating ourselves out of our potential, and the best plan that Christ has for us.

Yes, Forgiveness is Hard

True forgiveness is one of the hardest things to accomplish in the human experience, even for the mature Christian. This is why most marriages are struggling. As we get hurt and we then become the hurters, we become a self-imprisoned victim of the escalation of that hurt that could have been stopped by just, I forgive you, and then letting it go!

Forgiveness is our mandate, and call, in life, in church, and in marriage. Yes, this is hard because it demands a surrender of our ‘perceived’ right to get even. Forgiveness even causes upset for the person who was wronged, the victim. Because we feel that the suffering, from our perspective and reasoning, should belong to the other person in the wrong. So, it is natural to consider this unfair. And, yes, it is unfair; as it was unfair for our Lord to go through what He did to forgive us!

But, once the forgiveness is given and received, the hurt can stop and relationship can continue and prosper.

Forgiveness is hard, because we can easily avoid it; we can walk the other way, and execute revenge. Take our hurts and turn them into weapons of hurt. And, it would be considered justified in the eyes of our friends, our relatives, and, especially of society. We could even receive some kind of honor for coming up with a good scheme of revenge.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…”

This passage is telling us that our way of thinking is wrong. If God is the Creator of all things, including Truth, and He is all knowing, and He is all-powerful, then, His ways are better than ours. We may not be able to recognize this, because our perspective is limited, as is our knowledge and insight as well as our foresight that this is a better plan.

When we look to Christ, consider that He is governed by righteousness; whereas, desires and emotions drive us. God has a moral and virtuous purpose; our purpose is self-seeking. He wants the escalation of hurt to stop that is why there is forgiveness.

God’s primary purpose in marriage is to create an environment to grow spiritually, emotionally, relationally to one another and to Him. So, to bring us out of our self-destructive and self-seeking nature, and into the reclamation of redemption in Him; this is the work of Christ. This is the work of His forgiveness to us that He wants us to play forward with our spouse and others.

So next time you have trouble forgiving, remember that God’s thoughts are beyond our comprehension and imagination; therefore, we should rely on Him, and not on ourselves.

(For ongoing hurt, any abuse or dysfunction, please see a qualified counselor. If you feel you are in danger, get out, contact the police.)

Forgiveness in Marriage PIII

Forgiveness in Marriage

At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” Matthew 18:26-27

This passage in Matthew, chapter eighteen, is a story of a forgiving king and a wicked servant. The king forgave this servant’s enormous debt, which is a parallel to our enormous debt of sin that we held until Christ forgave us. And this can also apply to the storehouse of hurts, wrongs, misses and the such, we may hold and horde and then harbor ourselves to, that we feel our spouse has done to us. This servant represents the believer, who, after experiencing the forgiveness of God, did harbor bitterness to another, and then refused to forgive his fellow Christian (or a non-Christian) for a much, much smaller debt.  The king became furious, and handed the servant over to be tortured.

What does this have to do with marriage? Everything! A stern warning not to harbor wrongs or they will consume us and hurt yourself, our spouse, our family and leave us in a dysfunctional and bitter life.

The Bible is telling us that if we refuse to forgive one another, and continue to harbor bitterness, we can be tortured, too. What is a greater destroyer or a better torture to have than being bitter and wallow in it so we are inept to be and do anything of worth?

My personal experience is when I have refused to forgive people in the past or my spouse, I have become consumed with feelings of guilt and shame, and this is a torture I can do without. I feel much better, and sleep much better with an attitude of forgiveness; I cannot think well or sleep well with an attitude of bitterness. I can grow in my relationship with Christ, build my family or enjoy my life with unforgiveness left out and about.

Why would a Christian marriage want to go through life with feelings of bitterness, which consume us with misery and unrest, instead of giving it to the Lord, and receiving forgiveness and rest?

How can we go through our marriage life and experience, and rationalize our bad actions and deeds, only to face our Lord later in the judgment? By what point are we to do, by what feeling is we to base, by what hope do we have? Even when we are in the right? When we have the knowledge of God’s mercy, then we have the responsibility of acting with mercy toward our wife, husband and one another (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God calls Christians to operate in the parameters of forgiveness, love, and mercy.  And, when we have not forgiven, we will have a heart filled with suffering and torment.  How can we receive Christ’s forgiveness, and claim Christ as our Savior, when we are unable to forgive one another?  When we have a forgiving attitude, then we will have a heart at rest and in peace!

Let us take our marriage vision from God’s Word and heed from Matthew, chapter 18. We can see what God requires of us, and our appropriate response.  We,  must extend ourselves to one another with love, and that which flows out of love-forgiveness!  Which is a key component to make a marriage last a lifetime and build a legacy for generations.

            Ephesians 4:29-32 tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”   

John 13:34-35 tells us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. 

            We are to love and forgive one another-period!  No strings attached! Unless there is abuse or abandonment. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world!  

We should be clear on this.  A healthy marriage is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sin nature, and embraces each other with love and respect, and what flows out of that is forgiveness. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt.

We are called to model kindness, love, empathy, compassion-and, out of these, will flow a forgiveness for a content home. Yes, this is hard, but the result of not forgiving, even when we are in the right, is a torture no child of God should endure. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. Because, an unforgiving attitude, and its ugly rotten fruits, will chock us off from His wonders!

Forgiveness in Marriage PII

Forgiveness in Marriage c

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves 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.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

We may suffer betrayal from friends, family, coworkers, and even church members. However, the biggest betrayal is always from those we love and trust the most. Yet, we are called to forgive, anyway!

Why? Because, we need it, and because we are imperfect, fallen, and full of sin. Even the Christian who is saved by Grace is still in the process of growth and sanctification.  We are yet imperfect, no matter what the level of maturity. If you are thinking, I refuse to forgive, consider this reason to forgive.

We forgive because God has forgiven us.  

If we do not, the resentment will build and build-like battery acid that slowly eats away a car-until, unless we fix it, it will destroy us.  Even secular psychologists tell us that resentment is the most powerful, self-destructive emotion in our arsenal. Will you allow forgiveness to build and destroy the love that was kindled, take your relationship away and cause hurt to your family? If so, all that will be left is the building blocks of bitterness to destroy your family, other relationships and your life!

            God desires that we seek forgiveness, because God is a God of relationships, and is committed to relationships.

God knows our human weaknesses and our self-destructive nature, and that our relationships tend to be fragile.  Broken marriages come out of our sinful nature and our fallen world, which seeks its own gain. God’s desire is to show the world our potential. Because a happy, healthy Christian marriage is becoming more rare and thus more needed. Because of what Christ has done for us, we should not take pleasure in destructive situations, those that divide and draw relationships apart.

Relationships are what life is all about!  A healthy marriage is the pinnacle of human relationships. Satan seeks to destroy marriage and pervert it with substitutions that only fester brokenness disguised as rights and victory. His first attempt was in the Garden of Eden, nearly defeating our relationship with God and with Adam and Eve and then with the rest of humanity of one another. God’s plan is to prove Satan wrong, and, our call is to build our matrimony and one another up, not destroy one another.

When a spouse betrays and we have been wronged, we experience feelings of betrayal, and consider retaliation to be justified. God calls us out of retaliation and into reconciliation.  Then we need godly council and help. Get it. Seek a qualified counselor to help you both through this.

When we fail to forgive, we are the ones who suffer the most. Your spouse may betray, but then that betrayal is lived out over and over, it will never stop. They get on with life, and unfairly the victim festers with the wounds. Then, anger, resentment, shame, bitterness, contempt, and defensiveness all synergistically build on top of one another, so every segment within us is held hostage with these emotions. We are chained like a dog on a leash, unable to reach the destination we desire, what Christ has for us.

A healthy Christian marriage puts aside spiteful behaviors, and embraces our spouse in love. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of hurt that builds a better relationship of mutual respect for the future. 

Do not allow the bitterness to continue so that it festers causing more harm, even corrupting the potential for forgiveness, moving to reconciliation and damaging your whole being. The bitterness must not take hold in your life, or it will block the flow of the Holy Spirit and self-controlling love. Or else, the festering will continue to the point that Christ is crying out to us in the wilderness, yet we do not hear Him.

Our Lord is alerting us to the perils of being unforgiving, just as the call of red alert of impending danger.  If we do not heed the warning, our emotions will run wild, and we will no longer have control or composure, unable to recognize who we are in Christ. We will not be able to listen, solve any problems, or clear up misunderstandings.  Thus, the anger and the uncontrolled emotions will become controlled by Satan.  The red alert has been ignored, and our family has been destroyed! Your relationship(s) have been destroyed!

Forgiveness in Marriage PI

forgiven

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

We can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus is working while we are waiting, and even in anguish. We can best practice forgiveness to our spouse by realizing how much we have been forgiven. We can then be imitators of that forgiveness when we feel wronged willfully or unknowingly that cause us setbacks or harm.

How and why? The magnitude of forgiveness from our Lord for what we have done can never measure up to anything others could do to us. When we put forgiveness into practice, we will be free from the bondage of bitterness and pain that imprisons us, disconnecting us from life and its wonders, which God has provided for us.

            I was watching one of those reality shows recently where a bunch of young people were put into a nice beach house to live and work together. The show is about the drama and strife each one causes the other, and how they “do not” work it out. After all, if they were a big happy family, it would not make good TV, so I am told by a friend in that business. One young woman, in her early twenties, kept making the statement, “I refuse to forgive anyone for anything.” So, in the episode I watched, the attention was centered on how she was alienating everyone in the house. The result was that she ended up alone, hated by the others. She would make a big deal if someone took her cookie, or gave her an objectionable look. She was a very sad and pathetic person, whose self-imposed code of conduct, created out of pride, made it impossible for her to make friends or cooperate with anyone in her life. She could not see that she was the problem; she refused to take any responsibility. In her interviews, she blamed everyone else for her problems. The sad fact is that this is typical behavior amongst many marriages today, even Christians in the church!

As human beings, we are prone to make mistakes, either intentionally or unintentionally. We all have hurt people, and we have all been hurt; we are all in the same boat. So, when we refuse to forgive one another, especially our spouse and loved ones, it is like escaping the disaster of the sinking of the Titanic in a lifeboat, only to poke holes in the very lifeboat that saved us. Our escape from the sinking ship is our redemption, which we did not deserve. Since everyone else in the lifeboat needs the cross too, why try to sink one another? All you will accomplish is to sink yourself and your marriage.

Out of mistakes we make, or our spouse may cause us, comes our pain, hurt, and resentment. This resentment escalates into animosity, then cause fighting and augmentations and then builds into bitterness, until it destroys your relationship and causes a divorce.

This young woman is like many in marriage, she refused to forgive, and built an impenetrable wall that caused bitterness and isolation as she wallowed in her troubles, blaming everyone else for them. She would not allow forgiveness to break down the wall, allowing for the building of life and relationships.

Forgiveness is the only human force that can stop the disintegration of relationship breakdowns.

This is why it is so essential. This is why our Lord calls us to forgive. If you have been hurt, or you have hurt-and we all have-open your eyes and realize that it is the call of the Christian to dispel these conflicts. Without forgiveness, our growth and maturity with Christ, and our harmony and being “at home” at home, cannot be built.