Forgiveness…the power and the challenge

1I’m a realist and I know that one of the MOST realistic statements I can write is this – “we get hurt.” If you live long enough, you will be forced to embrace and admit that life is painful…that someone has hurt you…someone whom you trusted or depended upon. We’ve all felt the sting of someone’s disloyalty, betrayal, or even emotional brutality. I know, I know…you didn’t deserve it! I didn’t either but it happened. How do you cope with these experiences in life? How can you navigate those issues lurking in your past or in your memories hitting your heart at the most unexpected times?

You essentially have three choices:

1 – Forget – but trust me, this is easier said than done. It is very difficult, if not impossible to erase hurt. It is like a virus on your computer…it just keeps messing things up in your life. My experience? Forgetting doesn’t work!
2 – Get Even – you know the phrase, “I don’t get back, I get even!” Trust me in this as well…that’s the saddest game in town. Someone once told me a long time ago, “you can never get even in the exchange of pain.”
3 – Forgive – yep, that’s God’s “invention.” It is something Jesus uses with us. Regret, hurt, pain, betrayal…God’s experienced them all in His relationship with you and me. All that we are and have done and God forgives.

Well, it seems to most of us that God has it easy…when it comes to forgiveness, since He “invented” it, He wields it without effort. The rub happens in our hearts when we read what Jesus said about not just RECEIVING forgiveness but then being challenged to BE a forgiver. When Paul writes in Ephesians 4:

“be kind to each other, tender-hearted, and forgive as Jesus has forgiven you.”

Or as Jesus said himself, “love one another AS I HAVE LOVE YOU”…or “love one another as you LOVE yourself”…if you have experienced the power of forgiveness, now the ball is in your court to be a forgiver.

So, how DO you get to the point that you can say, “you are forgiven”…”we are reconciled”? With that strong move in your life, how can you get to the point where you are ready because you have forgiven to be the son, daughter, friend, coworker, or even spouse that you want to be?

Permit me to give you some pointed encouragement. You can download a PDF below that has four “session” explanation and challenge to all of us regarding the power and the challenge of forgiveness. Each of these challenges come straight from how our Lord treats us in terms of forgiveness. You see, when we are awestruck, moved and transformed by the “amazing grace” of the forgiving heart of Jesus toward us, we are at the same time challenged to be one who “pays it forward” in our relationships. Since we are created in the image of God and that “image” is one of forgiveness, it would seem that a commitment like that would be easy for us to make. But often it is not…so we all need to have a clear look again at how far God goes to forgive us so that when the challenge comes to be a forgiver, we have a specific and clear example of what that forgiveness looks like. We are all called to,

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:1

Forgiveness Series 2

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