Thursday, January 23, 2014

This one might sting a little.

And you know what?  I totally get that.  It stung me, too.  Got me righthere.  The Spirit told me to stop and examine the wound, told me it stung - I was angry - because it applies to me.  It wasn't something I wanted to hear, but it's resonating in my heart, loud like a thousand bells. And it goes against everything we're taught in secular life and modern counseling.  It's a lie I didn't realize I believed.

Here goes...

Forgiveness isn't a process.

Just let that sink in for a sec.

Forgiveness - - - isn't - - - - - a process.

Oh, we love to call it a process, though.  That way we can justify hanging on to our anger until we're darn good and ready to let it go.  Until we're satisfied that our offender has suffered enough.  Until our over-developed sense of justice is appeased.  Until the wrongs have been righted.

We've all heard it.  We've probably all said it.  "I'm just not ready."  "There's just too much hurt."  "When they ask me, maybe then..."  "No way, I'm not letting him off the hook!"

What I heard today is that forgiving is an action.  A choice.  Something we DO.  It's not a feeling.  And friend, it's not a suggestion.  We're commanded to forgive.

Not when we're ready, but now.
Not when we feel it, feelings have nothing to do with obedience.
Not when we're asked, but before.

Of course I don't have it in me to forgive.  Of course I'm not ready.  Of course I can't do it.  That's the whole point of it.  Nothing I do in my own power is worth anything.

But I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.   -- Philippians 4:13

See, calling it a process is just another way to sugar coat our disobedience.  Withholding forgiveness puts ME in control.  Obeying the command and just doing it in faith - and trusting God to bring my feelings in line with His will - puts CHRIST in control.

So how does that look?  I don't have a clue.  I told you I'm still chewing on this myself.  Maybe when you encounter that person, you're pleasant.  When bitterness comes to the surface, run-don't-walk to your prayer closet and lay that ugliness at the feet of Jesus.  Pray about it?  Yes yes a million times YES.  Ask one trusted friend to pray with you to ask God for the strength to show grace and mercy you don't feel?  YES!

For SURE you stop gossiping about it to others, and stop the vague Facebook posts.  Your unwillingness to move on is like choosing to wear cement shoes.  People with the victim mentality want to remain victims, and one way they accomplish that is by dragging (many) others down into the pit with them.  Choosing *not* to move on.  And it is a choice.

Don't be a victim, you're a victor!  Christ already won, the victory is YOURS in HIM!

It helps me to keep in mind that we have no rights.  You heard me, Americans.   

As Christians, you have no rights.  

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fictional "rights" made up by men and found in a humanist document called the Constitution.  You won't find those "rights" in Scripture.

We die to ourselves daily, taking up our cross.  Who carries a cross?  A criminal condemned to die, that's who.  That's why you carry it, by the way.  Not because being a Christ-follower is a daily burden to be borne, but because you and I have been tried and convicted, and you die to yourself daily.  We have no liberty.  We are slaves to Christ!  "Paul, a prisoner..."  And we have no right to the pursuit of happiness, but we are to pursue the best for others.  We give up everything for the cause of Christ.  Nothing belongs to us, no righteousness comes from us.  The joy of the Lord is our strength!

It also helps to remember Christ's behavior on the cross.  He asked God to forgive US.  We, who put him there.  Your sin and mine!  Nobody was standing there apologizing, nobody was asking for his forgiveness.  But he gave it, and freely.  Dying the most excruciating death imaginable, he was caring for the ones who put him on that cross.  How could we do less?

So as I said, I'm not sure yet how this relates in my life.  I know that I want him to forgive me, so I need to be ready, willing, and able to forgive.  I don't think I'm harboring anything against anyone, but I ask God daily to see if there be any wicked way in me.  He knows, and I trust him to reveal the strongholds and the ugliness I have hidden away.

*sigh* So much ugliness.  So thankful He forgives.
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