Monday, August 25, 2008

GOD WANTS ME TO FORGIVE THEM?!?

Okay, this title is not original - it is from one of my kids' VeggieTales movies. But it is a predominant theme in my weekend/week so far.
At church this weekend, there was a guest speaker - turns out, it was someone who my family has known and loved for years. Having been on vacation last week, I had forgotten that he would be speaking and was pleasantly surprised when we showed up on Sunday morning and saw him sitting in the front of the church. I knew we were in for a great message ...yet, as the teaching progressed, I wasn't so sure. Oh, he was charismatic, hilarious, right on scripturally...everything you would want in a sermon and more....but as he spoke, I found I had some serious baggage that still needed tending to. You know how sometimes God chooses to remind us of things that we may not be so willing to deal with? Well, that was my Sunday.
Don't worry, I won't type out an entire sermon :) but I will say that the main gist of it was on forgiveness and if we are struggling with forgiving a person (or people), it may well be that we are not following what the Word of God says regarding forgiveness. It is so easy to say, "I have forgiven that person", all the while knowing there is a root of bitterness festering deep inside us. It is also easy to blame God that we find it impossible to forgive when we continue to focus on ourselves and how we have been wronged and we just don't understand why God won't make it easier. More often than not, we have not really surrendered to what the scriptures have to say about forgiveness. (and when we are in a state of unforgiveness it is easy to avoid those passages and just focus on those that serve our purposes!)
On Sunday, there were several passages of the Bible covered regarding forgiveness (the Lord's Prayer in Matthew, the attributes of God listed in Exodus 34:6-7, Jonah's attitude toward the Ninevites, etc. ) I would like to share a quick list of things that God asks us to do in dealing with those we feel have wronged us. We, as humans, find it easier to love our friends and hate our enemies, but God asks us to:
* Love our enemies
* Bless those who curse us
* Do good to those who hate us
* Pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us
Ouch! I think that is enough!
None of the things listed here come naturally - yet, I have found that if we ask the Lord to instill those things in us, He will - and WE will be blessed as a result. I know for me, I often CHOOSE to hang on to my unforgiveness because if I hand it over to God, He may just reconcile a relationship I don't want reconciled (ala Jonah and the Ninevites). But, in that immaturity and selfishness, I am the one who misses out when I cling to resentment.
In the past year, God has blessed me with reconciled relationships that I handed over to Him to do as He pleases. I surrendered and I benefited. Why do I hang on to other seeds of unforgiveness in my life knowing that they only cause ME harm? My lying awake at night does not hurt my offender....it hurts me!
Looking at the list above, God did not say those things in Matthew 5:43-45 just for filler. They are the KEY to forgiveness in the heart of a believer. Surrendering fully to the admonitions in the Bible reap great benefits - they may not come easy to our human nature, but oh, they are so sweet when we think through what they are really saying to do and ask God to do them through us.
Okay, this was NOT supposed to be this long! I know God was really trying to impress this message on my heart when I heard the message on Sunday. Then, I opened my email on Monday morning to find a devotional on the same subject (btw, check out this great site with great devotionals for women: Proverbs 31) As if that was not enough, today when I logged on to our church website to read our "Thru the Word" passages which I had not done for a while, I found the SAME scripture (in Matthew 5) to read TODAY! Obviously, this is a timely message for me as I search my own heart - but I felt compelled to share it since most of us have people or situations in which we struggle with feeling wronged or hurt and don't understand why we can't get past it. I have learned 0nce again, over the past three days, that God's Word is very clear on how to resolve interpersonal relationships and it begins with us aligning our hearts with His and being willing to put others, even our "enemies" above ourselves.

6 comments:

Roxy said...

What a great post! I am so there with you on this one. There are people in my past who it took awhile for me to forgive. Then I woke up and realised I was hurting myself by not forgiving them. I just have to remind myself that how can I expect to be forgiven for something I have done, when I can't forgive someone else.

TeresaW said...

Kristin, I think it is an interesting thought. However, what happens if you have been wronged by someone and out of the generosity of your heart you have forgiven that person, and followed the scriptures, but have not found peace?

I had a job where we all worked as a team, I did not have a very significant role within the team and therefor no influence over my career. The team bosses decided to mutiny and took all those useful members of staff and left the admin team (me) to fend for themselves. The company provided me with another team to work for but there was huge resentment toward me because I came from defective stock. I was not interviewed for the new post I was just given a new boss, who must have resented me too as he undermined my efforts to look after him, and I found myself in a disciplinary situation with him due to my new team members playing cruel practical jokes on me. I defended my case very well, and Personnel were left in a tricky position. My new boss was a partner to the firm so they had to be seen to agree with him, but they could see there was a hidden agenda going on and that I was a victim so they gave me the leanest penalty that they could. I decided that I would not be comfortable working for the boss and resigned.

I was able to forgive, because I could see that I just did not fit in, and had I gone for an interview for the job in the conventional way I would never have been offered the job, but what I don't understand is, if I have forgiven on a conscious level, why on a subconscious level do I keep suffering. I have sleepless nights, and I have what I call my demon sessions where I re-live what happened to me. I did go back to a job, but now that I do not work, the thought of working frankly traumatises me. How can this be if I have forgiven this man, and the team members, and my original team that abandoned me? I have walked round in their shoes a while to see why they found it necessary to do that to me, and which ever person I choose to be, I can see why they could do that to another person. If I have chosen to hand over my unforgiveness to God, why does he hand it back to me when I am not looking?

cindy said...

Hey sis wow God is doing an amazing work in us all. Not sure if you went to my site ....I too touched on these verses as well as the Love part of it if we just Love ...LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS. I would like to share with your friend teresaw that we are called to forgive and it isnt always easy and her situation sounded tough ...however if she doesnt have piece it is because she is picking it back up not God giving it back sometimes we tell ourselves we have forgiven and really truely have not which can also be why we have not peace in our hearts God knows the true state of our hearts and until we deal with the unforgiveness God will keep bringing the situations up until we do deal with them. It is hard and especially to love and forgive the unloveable and unfriendly however those are the very people He calls us to love and forgive may God bless you and may you find your peace in Him.

KRISTIN said...

Sorry Teresa - just got done with my kids a while ago and started to respond and it got real long (imagine that!) So look for my next blog post (will be in just a bit).

I SO see your predicament and first want to say I am sorry you had to and are having to deal with such a difficult situation. If we were given the opportunity to sit face to face, we would probably have some stories to share – whether it be similar situations with coworkers, friends or family….although I am by NO means an expert on the subject – and I found myself struggling with it once again this week – I will do my best to respond….at least with what I have learned over the past year in dealing with some pretty unpleasant circumstances. Thanks for sharing and I hope you feel free to anytime! Kristin

KRISTIN said...

Hi Cindy! I did see your blog and in fact made a note to go back to it because I want to really read it....looks like good stuff! I'll be back on line tomorrow - date night tonight - gotta go get beautiful (or at least try! :) ) Kristin

joey said...

Hi Kristin, I read this post with great interest, then read it out to my husband and he said wow that sounds like you!!!, It has certainly got me thinking about things!xxx