Forgiveness, Part 5

Do I have to tell the person who hurt me that I have forgiven him?  I don’t ever want to see or talk to that person again. He’s scary, and although I’ve forgiven him, I want nothing more to do with him.

This is a “that depends” kind of question, and there is more than one answer.

Sometimes, the person we need to forgive is already dead. Perhaps it was an abusive or extremely critical parent that you have finally been able to forgive; however, that person is already gone, so there is no need to confront.

In some cases, your process of forgiving someone else is just between you and God. If you are convinced that telling a person you have forgiven him will do nothing but bring more pain down on you, then no, I don’t think you need to face that person.  Forgiveness, you’ll remember, is simply giving up your right to demand justice.  It does not require you to continue to be hurt by someone who is unrepentant and feels he has done nothing wrong. You can forgive from a safe distance.

I know of a situation in which the offended person did face her tormenter.  She told that person that she had come to a place of forgiving her, and wanted her to know that she held no malice. The guilty person, however, laughed until the tears flowed. “YOU have forgiven ME?”  she asked. “Oh, that’s rich. That’s really funny. I never did anything to you that you didn’t deserve. If  you hadn’t been such a twerp (yes, that’s the word she used)  you wouldn’t have gotten any trouble from me!”

Often, people who hurt us feel it was their right; in fact, they feel it was necessary. They believe they were justified in their words and actions, and have never felt a moment’s regret for anything. There’s not much future in trying to reconcile with that kind of attitude, and you’re probably far better off just to walk the path of forgiveness and keep it between you and God rather than to stir up another opportunity for the offender.

This is difficult if it’s someone you have to see often, such as a family member who lives nearby.  With time and patience, though, it can be done. I tell my clients that they don’t have to shut the person out of their lives, although the desire to do so may be strong. But clear boundaries can be established, and should be. When something starts between you, you can simply excuse yourself and refuse to participate.  You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.

If you have an overwhelmingly interfering parent, in-law, or sibling, you must draw strong boundaries and then be willing and able to enforce them.  If you don’t, the person will continue to be a thorn in your flesh. It is possible to calmly state that you do not choose to continue the conversation, and to walk away or hang up the phone.

If you do desire to continue a relationship with the person you are forgiving,  then you must be prepared to have to choose over and over to forgive and let go.  I think you probably should tell the person that you have forgiven her for past hurts.  If she is a reasonable person, such a statement can lead to a conversation that will reveal hurt on both sides, and can be restorative.

We are called, as followers of Christ, to reconciliation and restoration. We are to love others as we love ourselves, and we all do love ourselves.  Impossible to reconcile or restore?  The person is so toxic that you simply can’t allow him back into your life? Yes, that can be the case, but forgiving removes the poison from your heart and soul and makes it possible for you to have contact with him without being tied up in knots.

The person is unrepentant, won’t admit she’s ever done anything wrong? Fine. Forgive anyway, keep it between you and God, and get on with your life.

The most satisfying thing, of course, is when an offender comes to you seeking forgiveness and you are able to offer it freely.  That’s the ideal.  In my experience, it doesn’t happen that way very often, When it does, you need to treasure it and  be thankful, and enjoy an renewed relationship with someone who cares enough to take the first step toward restoration.

As I said at the beginning, this is not a question for which one answer fits all. Seek wisdom from God, but forgtive in your heart no matter what.

Next week, what forgiveness is not.

Ten Minutes

granonine:

This was the daily prompt from WordPress.com this morning. It’s not a fun read, but I believe it is an important one.

Originally posted on Just Writing!:

Ready, Set, Done

Today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

**************************

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone about the difference between pure evil and “poor choices,” or “mistakes.”  This is one of my hot buttons.  I believe in the existence of evil.  My Bible says, in Jeremiah 17:9, that the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and that we can’t even know the capacity for wickedness that we all have.

Years ago, my pastor said that any Christian is capable of committing any sin; if you think about something long enough, you will do it.  At the time, I thought, “No, not ME!”  Now, I know he was right.

No one teaches a baby to be selfish.  No one teaches a toddler to throw a temper fit.  No one teaches a two-year-old to look at…

View original 294 more words

Hypocrisy

Matthew 23:1- 3. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”

What an indictment Jesus is laying on the scribes and Pharisees now!  He has already earned their hatred and condemnation, so He has nothing to lose, and His time is drawing near. In this dramatic scene, He literally turns away from the religious leaders of the day and excoriates them for their hypocrisy.  I suspect that He could already feel the scourge crashing down across His back. 

Jesus spoke to the people in plain words, telling them to obey what the Pharisees say, according to the Law; but not to do as the Pharisees do,  because they speak good words but do not act upon them.

This is indeed the purest form of hyocrisy.  And Jesus is just getting started.

Jesus Asks a Question

Matthew 22:41-46. “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?  If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son? And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.”

Jesus

Not one of the Pharisees had touched on the question of Messiah, Who He was; and after all, for the Jews, there was no more important question.

Jesus quoted from Psalm 110 as He asked His question. This Psalm is one of the great messianic prophecies. It is important in the book of Hebrews,  where it is quoted as being fulfilled in Jesus Christ when He comes again. The power of the prophecy in this Psalm is so great that scoffers have tried to deny that it is truly scripture, or that David penned it.  When you can’t explain, then you have to mock and deny.

At this moment with Jesus, the Pharisees acknowledged that Messiah was to be the Son of David. Surely these Pharisees knew Jesus’ unquestionable descent from David. They could not deny that He had legal title to the throne of David. His ministry throughout the years had confirmed Him as Jehovah.

They could not, would not, give Him an answer.  They were silenced by His question.  They would not speak again until they cried out, “Crucify Him!”  as they helped to fulfill God’s plan of bringing salvation to a world in need.

It’s Been Awhile since I Ranted!

Originally posted on Just Writing!:

I just can’t hold it in any more. temper_tantrum

Someone posted on Facebook the audio clip of a very smug woman who called in to accuse those of us who work for a living of doing so just so we could “preach” about how morally superior we are.  Not because we take pride in our work, or maybe actually enjoy working.  No, just so we could moralize about ourselves and compare ourselves favorably to people like her, a second-generation welfare recipient who makes no bones about bragging on her lifestyle, even going so far as to ask, “If someone offered you a million dollars, wouldn’t you take it?”

Here’s the clip.

There are so many things wrong here that it’s hard to know where to start.  I am simply flabbergasted that someone who rarely, if ever, considers actually earning her money is trying to take the moral high ground.  The only…

View original 211 more words

The Great Commandment

Matthew 22: 37-40. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

In Mark 12:34, we read that the lawyer who had asked this question was greatly moved by the answer, and Jeus said to him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”  I wonder, don’t you, if we’ll meet that man in heaven some day.

The questioner did not realize that he stood at that moment before Jehovah, Messiah, the Son of God. But I hope he understood it after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus was quoting from  Deuteronomy 6:5 for the first commandment.  For the second, He referred to Leviticus 19:18. These two commandments, He said, were the cornerstone for everything else in the Books of the Law, and for all that the prophets foretold.

To love God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30) leaves no part of a person untouched. The heart is considered the seat of one’s emotions. The soul is that spiritual part that seeks after God. The mind is that which governs the emotions and the behavior. Physical strength is often required to be a dedicated follower of Christ.  Ask any pastor, missionary, Christian school teacher or any other church member who is serious about serving God, and you will hear the same thing:  We need to ask God for strength every single day.

Two more things.  First, it is very clear in the second great commandment that God knew we would, indeed, love ourselves.  What may masquerade as self-loathing or poor self-esteem is often nothing more than a strong belief that others don’t value us as they should. People who truly do struggle with thinking poorly of themselves need to learn who they are because of Christ. I’ve written about that topic starting here and including the two posts directly following that first one.

Second, I think it’s important to understand that truly loving God, truly  being crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) will lead to becoming more and more Christ-like; and that will lead to a natural Holy Spirit-guided love for our neighbors.  Before we can truly love others, we have to have laid ourselves on the altar of God’s love for us.

Tempting Him

Matthew 22:34-36. “But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”

 There is so much drama in these scenes.  I would love to have been watching and listening from some little corner as Jesus shut down His enemies, one by one.  They kept coming back for more, and they kept being sent away in consternation.

This time,  a Pharisee who was a lawyer approached Jesus with one of the hot topics of his day. There were various arguments among the scribes and the lawyers as to which commandment in the law held the indisputable place of being the most important.  This lawyer was asking Jesus to take sides, hoping to turn one faction or the other against Himself.

Things aren’t much different today, are they?  We’re still nattering on at each other, in Christian circles, about so many things that should never be a point of controversy. I know I’m stepping into hot water here, but one of the prime examples that comes to mind is the old Calvinism (now known as Reformed Theology) versus Arminianism debate.  I remember hearing the preacher boys in my Bible college going on and on about this one, debating into the wee hours of the morning.  It was never resolved, never will be. It stirred up a lot of emotion, usually negative, and sometimes even called one’s intelligence into question. And, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, it was a waste of time.  That’s just one example. There are a zillion others. We peck each other to death in our “right-fighting” when we should be far more focused on reaching people with the gospel.

Jesus refused to enter the debate. Tomorrow we’ll look at His response.