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Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Forgive

The day before the Sandy Hook shootings I shared about a sermon in church on forgiveness and what the bible says about it for believers. My world was rocked re-reading it in light of the tragedy. Yesterday morning we finished up the 2 part series and our pastor outlined 3 things that must happen in your heart for you to be able to forgive. I recommend reading last week's post before finishing this one, and I pray that it brings you some sort of healing or comfort. 

1. We have to get to a place where forgiveness is not a choice but biblical obedience

  • As Christ followers we are commanded by the Lord to forgive in many parts of the bible. We are obeying God and not choosing to forgive when the circumstances are "good" for us
  • Colossians 3:12-13- forgive as He forgave you. AMEN!
  • If we are stuck in a place where we can't forgive, then we don't understand the depth of the forgiveness God gave us through His son Jesus Christ (and this should scare us to death!). If you are a child of God and can't forgive, you are waling in open sin and rebellion.
2. We must trust in the sovereignty of God
  • Wow. Why is this so hard at times? Knowing that Romans 8:28 stands true in triumph and in tragedy  He makes all things work together for our good. If you don't believe that, then you will not be able to forgive. 
  • Our pastor shared the story of Joseph and his coat. If you aren't familiar, Joseph was his father's favorite and gifted a beautiful coat that just lit his brothers on fire. They stole it and sold him into slavery. God raised up Joseph to be a powerful ruler and when his brothers come to beg for forgiveness, Joseph reminds them that he knows what they did was meant for evil, but God meant it for good (read Genesis 16-20). 
  • Think of Jesus on his final day here on earth- betrayed by his own disciple and friend, wronged, and slaughtered on a cross. As he hung there on the cross, looking at all the people who had wronged him, he asked his father to forgive them. Because our God is sovereign. Jesus was absolutely innocent and blameless yet he obeyed the word of the Lord. (read 1 Peter 2:21-23).
3. You have to believe the gospel and make it the primary purpose for your forgiveness
  • This point just rocked me to the core and I realized I had been disobeying the Lord with the drivers of my forgiveness.
  • Matt told a story about a young woman whose husband had cheated on her. The next week she was in Sunday school with another woman, older than she, whose husband had cheated on her and caused her to be a bitter old lady. That night, the young woman went home and forgave her husband because she didn't want to end up bitter. Isn't this something we all fall victim to? I forgive someone to keep the peace. Or I forgive because it would be awkward to see that person if I didn't. Or I forgive because it's my husbands family and I feel like I need to. But I am commanded to forgive because I have been forgiven fully in Christ!
  • Often times we forgive undeserving people yet who are we to judge when we are forgiven 7 times 70 times by the one who was slain for us? We are undeserving of the forgiveness that was given on the cross.
  • Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
  • Now this part just made the hair on the back of my neck stand. It was our sin that killed the son of God, yet He forgave. And someday, I imagine not any time soon, those families of the children who bravely lost their lives, will forgive, because in Christ, they were forgiven and made blameless in the eyes of God. As I try to wrap my mind around this, what it would be like to lose a skinned knee, question asking, toothless little child, I shake my head and say I couldn't do it. No! But hearing Matt reinforce the seriousness of the forgiveness we were given as a free gift, it gave me hope. It will take time, tears, grieving, anger, law suits, and stuff I hope I never have to experience, but I pray that those families can see the sovereignty, goodness, faithfulness, and forgiveness of our mighty God.
I am turning comments off today and I ask in place of a comment, you pray for the families who lost sons, daughters, wives, friends....that again they can see the Lord in this awful tragedy and may cling to what is good. One of my prayers today is that I could be as brave and passionate about my life and what I stand for as some of those young teachers who lost their lives. 

To listen to the entire series on Forgiveness by Matt Carter, please visit The Austin Stone.

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