Wow I had a real busy end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. I almost got my first post in by the end of January, but February 1 is not bad. Especially for a bad blogger like me. :)
My word for the year is "RESCUE." For lots of different reasons. Lots! I will explain that in another post perhaps. But today I want to talk about forgiveness.
The word forgiveness has been tossed around in conversation a lot lately. When that happens I usually get to looking and digging for it. So I did some searching. In the NIV the word “forgive” appears 42 times in the OT and 33 in the NT. The word “forgiven” appears 17 times in the OT and 28 times in the NT. The word “forgiving” appears 6 times in the OT and 1 time in the NT.
Most of the references for the word forgive refer to that of “forgiveness of sin”. Not mine to yours or you to me, but us to HIM. Forgiveness of sin is the ultimate forgiveness and is only granted in the person of Jesus Christ. (Psalm 51:4).
Of course there are the verses, that to be honest, we as Christians like to throw at each other. Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” And we all know this one Matthew 18:21-22- “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.” These verses should give us cause to pause and examine our lives. God does not lie and neither does His word. But I think we throw these around to prove our point, which is usually based on a judgment we have passed on another. (Myself included in that comment.)
Now before I go on. I whole-heartedly believe that the word of God is alive and active and true. I live my life by it. (Not perfectly I might add, but I try.) In reading the “seventy-seven times” scripture, nowhere does it say that these are different “offenses”. Folks, life is messy and hard and wonderful and painful and broken and God knows that. I believe that scripture is there to show us that sometimes, we may have forgiven something and then it creeps back in and we have to forgive it again. Why? Because we are human and life is messy.
These words from William Paul Young’s book “The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity” sums it up best. “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat......Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.........Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation.........Forgiveness does not excuse anything.........You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness......”
Powerful! And I completely agree. There are those that I have forgiven, from individuals to institution, and they continue to be deceptive or destructive in the lives of others. I do not trust them and I am not, nor will I become, under the present circumstances, their cheerleader. And yes, sometimes I am angered, by their lack of character and what appears to be complete disregard for Scripture. (I’m sure others have thought that of me. Remember live is messy.) Forgiving doesn’t mean reconciliation or over looking wrong doing. It means that you keep forgiving until you don’t need to, which my guess will be when I cast my crown at the feet of Jesus. But in the meantime, I may have to “let go of a few throats”….I guess maybe “rescue” it turning out to be an accurate word after all.