Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Voluntary Prisoner - Forgiveness

Hey Friend,

Who of us would voluntarily lock ourselves in a prison cell and then throw away the key?  Sounds stupid, right?  Yet, I've done it.  I'm betting you have done it.  We all have done it to differing degrees depending on our temperament and the severity of the "offense" committed.

Thousands of books, articles, songs and scriptures have been written on  forgiveness.  I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do know that it is a subject so strong and prevalent.  Why?  Because we are a fallen, sinful people and we do stupid and sometimes horrendous things. 

Jesus, beaten to within an inch of His life and suffocating on a cross, offered a prayer for our depravity. "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  (Luke 23:34)

The Bible tells us that all will betray us at one point or another.  Only God will never leave nor forsake us.  If we know this, why are we so deeply hurt when someone (often someone we know well) hurts us?

We are relational creatures and we were designed to live in relationship with one another.  When that bond or trust is broken in some way, it can cut to the core of our being.  Yet, God calls us to forgive...Why?

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  (Ephesians 4:32)

If we can wrap or heads around it, God truly wants what's best for us.  Everything he commands is for OUR good.

He tells us to forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because we/you deserve peace.

Peace cannot dwell where lack of forgiveness dwells.  So when we hang onto a grudge, angst and turmoil will be our constant companions.  It's not a healthy place to live.  It is a prison cell.

In his song, "Forgiveness", Matthew West sings, "It's the hardest thing to give away...{but} The prisoner that it really frees is you."

But, you don't understand, Bev, this just isn't right or fair.  No, sadly it isn't.  It hurts even more when the offender fails to seek forgiveness or even to acknowledge that he/she has done something wrong.

But, take heart.  We serve a just God.  He cannot be unjust.  He does say, however, who vengeance belongs to.

"Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord."  (Romans 12:19)

We can trust God to administer justice.

I've held onto a worn clipping for a long time (author unknown).  When I am dealing with the impossible task of forgiveness, I often refer to it.  The words are profound:

Remember, forgiveness is not a stamp of approval on all the wrongs committed, but rather, it is your way of releasing the destructive emotions and placing them in the hands of God with confidence in his ability to administer justice.

God loves you!  He grieves over the wrongs you have suffered.  God has forgiven you and shown you grace where condemnation was deserved.  He can, through His power working through you, enable you to forgive.  It is possible.  He wants you to be free - a prisoner no longer!