Monday, July 7, 2008

Total Forgiveness III: What Forgiveness IS

More segments from "Total Forgiveness" by R. T. Kendall...blue lettering are my words and all the rest are from Mr. Kendall's book...Total Forgiveness.

Total forgiveness seems to be a complex action that we must get right if we want to heal ourselves, receive God's blessings in our lives and release that one who offended us, for God to deal with them in His own way...not ours. Well, it is very complex but you have to take one step at a time...starting with the basic understanding of what it is and what it is not. We covered what it wasn't in the previous entry and now we are moving on what it is.

1. Being aware of what someone has done and still forgiving them...There is no spiritual victory to think we are forgiving people when we are only avoiding facing up to their wrong behavior. It is if anything, evading true forgiveness. Total forgiveness is achieved only when we acknowledge what was done without any denial or covering up---and still refuse to make the offender pay for their crime. Total forgiveness is painful. It hurts when we kiss revenge good-bye. It hurts to think that the person is getting away with what they did and nobody else will ever find out. But when we know fully what they did, and accept in our hearts that they will be blessed without any consequences for their wrong, we cross over into a supernatural realm. We begin to be a little more like Jesus, to change into the image of Christ.

2. Choosing to keep no records of wrong...Love "keeps no records of wrongs" I Cor. 13:5.

Why do we keep track of the times we are offended? To use them. To prove what happened. To wave them before someone who doubts what actually happened.

Many marriages could be healed overnight if both parties would stop pointing a finger. Love is a choice. Total forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling---at least, not at first---but is rather an
act of the will. I can truly testify to this statement because I had to choose to forgive according to God's Word, certainly not my will. I went through the motions for quite a while before I felt anything. They were empty words which I didn't mean and I told God that from the beginning but I promised Him that I would be obedient and He would have to do the rest. He will ALWAYS keep His Word.

3. Refusing to punish...Refusing to punish those who deserve it---giving up the natural desire to see them "get what's coming to them"---is the essence of total forgiveness. It is not our human nature to forgive or to think that the one who wronged us goes unpunished...so our human nature will fight it, therefore, we have to fight this in the Spirit.

If we harbor the desire to see our enemies punished, we will eventually lose the anointing of the Spirit. But when perfect love---the love of Jesus and the fruit of the Holy spirit---enters, the desire for our enemy to be punished leaves. Total forgiveness is refusing to punish.

Vindication is God's prerogative and God's prerogative alone. Deuteronomy 32:35 tells us, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay." Romans 12:19 and Hebrew 10:30...Vindication is what God does best. He doesn't want our help.

4. Not telling what they did...There is often a need to talk to someone about how you have been hurt, and this can be therapeutic if it is done with the right heart attitude. If it is necessary, you choose the person you will tell very carefully, making sure that person is trustworthy and will never repeat your situation to those it does not concern. Anyone who truly forgives, does not gossip about their offender. If we talk about our offender to others, it is not for therapeutic reasons, but so others will think less of them.

Remember when you are truly exercising total forgiveness...
1. I won't be punished for my sins.
2. Nobody will know about my sins, for all sins that are under the blood of Christ will not be exposed or held against me.

If you share your pain and offenses with someone else, examine your motives and be sure you aren't doing it to punish anyone by making them look bad.

5. Being merciful...Matt. 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy".

Because He is merciful, God does not want to punish us; because He is just, He must punish us because we have sinned against Him. Mercy is the opposite of wrath or justice. One difference between grace and mercy is that grace is getting what we don't deserve (favor), and mercy is not getting what we do deserve (justice). So when we show mercy we are withholding justice from those who have injured us, and that is one aspect of godliness. The benefit that we receive is when we show mercy, we are shown mercy.

6. Graciousness...Do not make a rigorous stand against your enemy even when you clearly in the right. Graciousness is shown by what you don't say, even if what you could say would be true. Self-righteous people find it almost impossible to be gracious; they claim always to be after the "truth", no matter the cost.

7. It is an inner condition...Total forgiveness must take place in the heart or it is worthless, for.....
"out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" Matt. 12:34.

If we have not truly forgiven those who hurt us in our hearts, it will come out sooner or later. But if it has indeed taken place in the heart, our words will show it. When there is bitterness, it will eventually manifest itself; when there is love,
"there is nothing in him to make him stumble" I John 2:10.

If I have forgiven him/her in my heart of hearts, but he still doesn't speak to me, I can still have the inner victory. It may be far easier to forgive when we know that those who maligned or betrayed us are sorry for what they did, but if I must have this knowledge before I forgive, I may never have the victory over my bitterness. If it is a genuine heart-experience, I will not be devastated if there is no reconciliation. Even if they don't want to have a relationship with me after I forgive them, it isn't my problem because I have forgiven them.

8. It is the absence of bitterness...Bitterness is an inward condition. It is an excessive desire for vengeance that comes from deep resentment. It heads the list of the things that grieve the Spirit of God. Bitterness will manifest itself in many ways---losing your temper, high blood pressure, irritability, sleeplessness, obsession with getting even, depression, isolation, a constant negative perspective and generally feeling unwell.

We must, therefore, begin to get rid of a bitter and unforgiving spirit; otherwise, the attempt to forgive will fail. It is true that doing the right things, even when you don't feel like it, can eventually lead to having the right feelings. But the very act of trying to do right shows that the bitterness is not as deep as it could be.

The absence of bitterness allows the Holy Spirit to be Himself in us. When the Spirit is grieved, I am left to myself, and I will struggle with emotions ranging from anger to fear. But when the Holy Spirit is not grieved, He is at home with me; He will begin to change me into the person He wants me to be, and I will be able to manifest the gentleness of the Spirit. Relinquishing bitterness is an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to give you His peace, His joy and the knowledge of His will.

When bitterness is gone there will be no desire to get even or punish the offender, when I do or say nothing that would hurt his/her reputation or future and when I truly wish him well in all he seeks to do.

9. Forgiving God...Although we often don't see it at first---and for some it takes a long time---all of our bitterness is ultimately traceable to a resentment of God. This may be an unconscious anger...many would be horrified to think that they are harboring bitterness toward God. But we often repress this, too; such knowledge is too painful to admit.

Many times, deep in our hearts, we believe that He is the one who allowed bad things to happen in our lives. Since He is all-powerful and all-knowing, couldn't He have prevented tragedies and offenses from happening? He has allowed us to suffer when we didn't do anything, or so it seems, to warrant such ill treatment. What we ultimately believe is that God is to blame for our hurt.

Only a fool would claim to know the full answer to the question, "Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue when He has the power to stop it?" But there is a partial answer: He does so in order that we may believe. There would be no need for faith if we knew the answer concerning the origin of evil and the reason for suffering. I only know that it is what makes faith possible.

Romans 8:28 All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.

God does turn evil into blessing. He causes things to work together for our good. God did not send His Son into the world to explain evil, but rather to save us from it and to exemplify a life of suffering. Jesus, who was and is the God-man, suffered as no one else has or ever will. One day God will clear His own name from the charge of being unjust, but in the meantime, we need to trust Him and take Him at His Word that He is just and merciful.

As for all the unhappy things He has allowed to happen to me, I affirm His justice. He is God. He knows exactly what He is doing---and why. For all of us who struggle with God's right to allow evil to exist in the world, there still must be a genuine forgiveness on our part, for any bitterness toward God grieves the Holy Spirit. We must forgive Him---though He is not guilty---for allowing evil to touch our lives.

10. Forgiving ourselves...Total forgiveness, then, means forgiving people---totally---and also forgiving God and it must include forgiving ourselves.

There is no lasting joy in forgiveness if it doesn't include forgiving yourself. It is anything but total forgiveness if we forgive God and those who hurt us, but we are unable to forgive ourselves.

As research has concluded in an overwhelming manner that the first person to experience delight when forgiveness takes place is the one who forgives. I again can testify to the truth in this statement. When true forgiveness finally took place...I was free, happy, at peace and full of joy...something that I hadn't been in years!

I pray that these last 3 entries that have been written about forgiveness...what it is not and what it is...will challenge you to examine your heart, seek the Holy Spirit to search you, so He can reveal any hidden unforgiveness we might be harboring. I pray that it will help to motivate you for forgive those who have hurt you, wronged you, offended you...forgive God for letting this happen to you and to forgive yourself...totally and completely. After which, you will experience the fullness of peace and joy that God intends for us to.

Next Entry: Total Forgiveness IV: Back To My Story

1 comment:

Thank you for stopping by today and sharing your heart felt thoughts with me. As we ride "Through the Storms of Life" together, chances are...your situation is different than mine. However, we serve the same awesome God, King of Kings who is in complete control and it all belongs to Him anyway...He wants to give you the very best. Be encouraged my friend, God loves you!

Thank you again for taking the time to visit me at "Through the Storms of Life".

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