Tag Archives: Forgiveness

A Thought on “Defiant Beauty”

I’ve been reading a book called, “Authentic Faith” by Gary Thomas. In it, he uses a term called “Defiant Beauty,” and the following is a direct quote, “In a world where people live self-centered lives, where ugly things happen, where sin seems to spread unchecked, where daily assaults take their toll, we can point to the defiant beauty of a selfless life, seeking first the kingdom of God, putting others first, and even sacrificing ourselves in the process, if need be-all to proclaim a transcendent truth that is greater than ourselves.” Right before he says this, he writes, “Beauty in the midst of chaos or ugliness is stunning. It’s onstage, and it seizes your attention.”

Within those few words is a truth that lies at the heart of what I’ve often sensed is the biggest hindrance to “Christianity” today, and with, sad to say, too many of us who call ourselves, “Christians.” Could it be that the reason “Christianity” and “Christians” are failing is because we’re failing to be the ” defiant beauty” in the midst of all the ugliness around us?

We live in a world of “ungrace” where practically everyone and everything is in direct opposition to what “grace” is, and what it’s about. We look down on and despise the concepts of “grace, forgiveness and mercy” when Jesus shows us that these are our most powerful weapons.

Jesus calls us to love, and when we do that as He has called us to, then we show the “defiant beauty” that characterized and defined His life here on earth and turned the lives of all those He touched upside down.

From “Morning and Evening” by C. H. Spurgeon

“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
– Eph_1:7

Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and for ever? Hell is my portion as a sinner-there is no possibility of my escaping from it while sin remains upon me-can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. I have believed in the appointed propitiation, even Jesus crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and for ever, forgiven by virtue of his substitutionary pains and death. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul! My soul dedicates all her powers to him who of his own unpurchased love became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through his blood. What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul.

It’s About Forgiveness… by Wayne Augden

You know there are a lot of things that speak to who a person is, and where they are on this road we call life.  Sometimes, we think we’ve come a long way, and we can even delude ourselves into thinking we have, but nothing is more telling on us than how we respond when we’re hurt.  Sometimes, depending on the severity of the offense, it’s fairly easy to forgive, and then there are times, when forgiveness is almost impossible.  What we have to realize though is that “forgiveness” isn’t about “forgetting,” but rather laying aside our pain, and our desire to get even, and being willing to do good to those who hurt us.  It’s about trusting God to deal justly with people.  Forgiveness is a supernatural act… it’s takes the love of God to help us do it, but we must allow and desire Him to help us if it is to take place.  If you need some help to get started…. Just imagine a man hanging on a cross, wearing a crown of thorns, spikes driven through His hands and feet…. and then listen as His pain-soaked voice speaks into the night… “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do…”

Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 

Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

My Prayer to the Father, August 21, 2012

Heavenly Father
I come to You, Father
Knowing that You are the Great God;
The Eternal God.
That You are defined
By
Love
Mercy
Compassion
Forgiveness
Justice
Holiness
And Truth,
And that these are all
You;
You are all these things.

Heavenly Father
How little we know of You;
With what arrogance
Do we presume upon You.
To think with our finite
Minds that we
Can understand You
Or think we should ever
Be able to know
All You are.

Heavenly Father
My prayer is a simple one
But one I feel we all need.
Father, I ask You
To help my brothers and sisters
To know:
That Your love is bigger,
Wider, deeper,
Than we can ever imagine;
That Your mercy
Extends beyond
What we are
capable of receiving.
That Your compassion
Knows no bounds;
That Your forgiveness
Is available
To anyone who
Sincerely desires it.

Heavenly Father
Let us never forget
That You are Just.
That Your justice
Is as big, wide, and deep
And Your eternal love.
That without Holiness
We shall never see You.
And most of all,
That without Your truth,
As You have decreed it
We shall never
Know You.

In Jesus name, I pray,
Amen.

From “The Word For You Today” by Bruce Christian

SEEK RECONCILIATION

Sometimes the only way to get over your hurt feelings is to seek reconciliation.  And if you are willing, God will help you do it.  George Elliot wrote: “Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”  A college teacher who was teaching on the high cost of unforgiveness asked each of her students to bring a sack of potatoes to class.  For each person they refused to forgive, they had to select a potato and write the date on it beside that person’s name.  Then for a month, without fail, they had to carry that sack of potatoes with them wherever they went.  After lugging those sacks around for a while each student began to recognize how much weight they were carrying; the amount of energy it took to focus on their bag; and that they had to be careful not to leave it in the wrong place.  Eventually, as the potatoes began to rot and stink, they realized that getting rid of them was the only smart thing to do.  Jesus said, “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good.  If you don’t…what are you going to do with them?” (Jn 20:23 TM).  Good question!  How would you like God to forgive you in the same way you forgive others?  If that thought makes you uncomfortable, do something about it!

From “Winslow, Evening Thoughts”

     Something to add to my letter on forgiveness….

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus says unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

IF there is a single exercise of divine grace in which, more than in any other, the believer resembles God, it is this. God’s love to man is exhibited in one great and glorious manifestation, and a single word expresses it-forgiveness. In nothing has He so gloriously revealed Himself as in the exercise of this divine prerogative. Nowhere does He appear so like Himself as here. He forgives sin, and the pardon of sin involves the bestowment of every other blessing. How often are believers called upon thus to imitate God! And how like him in spirit, in affection, and in action do they appear, when, with true greatness of soul and with lofty magnanimity of mind, they fling from their hearts, and efface from their memories, all traces of the offence that has been given, and of the injury that has been received! How affecting and illustrious the example of the expiring Redeemer! At the moment that His deepest wound was inflicted, as if blotting out the sin and its remembrance with the very blood that it shed, He prayed, as the last drop fell, and as the last breath departed, “Father, forgive them.” How fully and fearfully might He have avenged Himself at that moment! A stronger than Samson hung upon the cross. And as He bowed His human nature and gave up the spirit, He could as easily have bowed the pillars of the universe, burying His murderers beneath its ruins. But no! He was too great for this. His strength should be on the side of mercy. His revenge should wreak itself in compassion. He would heap coals of fire upon their heads. He would overcome and conquer their evil, but He would overcome and conquer it with good: “Father, forgive them.”

It is in the constant view of this forgiveness that the followers of Christ desire, on all occasions of offence given, whether real or imaginary, to “forgive those who trespass against them.” Themselves the subjects of a greater and diviner forgiveness, they would be prompt to exercise the same holy feeling towards an offending brother. In the remembrance of the ten thousand talents from whose payment his Lord has released him, he will not hesitate to cancel the hundred pence owing to him by his fellow-servant. Where, then, will you find any exercise of brotherly love more God-like and divine than this? In its immediate tender, its greatest sweetness and richest charm appear. The longer it is delayed, the more difficult becomes the duty. The imagination is allowed to dwell upon, and the mind to brood over, a slight offence received, perhaps never intended, until it has increased to such magnitude as almost to extend, in the eye of the aggrieved party, beyond the limit of forgiveness. And then follows an endless train of evils-the wound festers and inflames; the breach widens; coldness is manifested; malice is cherished; every word, look, and act is misinterpreted; the molehill grows into a mountain, the little rivulet swells into an ocean, until happiness and peace retire from scenes so uncongenial, and from hearts so full of all hatred and strife. But how lovely in its appearance, and how pleasurable in the feelings it enkindles, is a prompt exercise of Christian forgiveness! Before the imagination has had time to distort, or the wound to fester, or ill-minded people to interfere, Christian love has triumphed, and all is forgiven!

How full of meaning is our blessed Lord’s teaching on this point of Christian duty, in our motto! It behooves us prayerfully and constantly to ponder His word. True love has no limits to its forgiveness. If it observes in the bosom of the offender the faintest marks of regret, of contrition, and of return, like Him from whose heart it comes, it is “ready to forgive,” even “until seventy times seven.” Oh who can tell the debt we owe to His repeated, perpetual forgiveness? And shall I refuse to be reconciled to my brother? Shall I withhold from him the hand of love, and let the sun go down upon my wrath? Because he has trampled upon me, who have so often acknowledged myself the chief of sinners, because he has slighted my self-importance, or has wounded my pride, or has grieved my too sensitive spirit, or, it is possible, without just cause, has uttered hard speeches, and has lifted up his heel against me, shall I keep alive the embers of an unforgiving spirit in my heart? Or rather, shall I heap coals of fire upon his head, not to consume him with wrath, but to overcome him with love? How has God my Father, how has Jesus my Redeemer, my Friend, dealt with me? Even so will I deal with my offending brother. I will not even wait until he comes, and acknowledges his fault. I will go to him, and tell him that at the mercy-seat, beneath the cross, with my eye upon the loving, forgiving heart of God, I have resolved to forgive all, and will forget all.

 

Letter to a Friend on Forgiveness

Dear (Insert your name here),

I don’t know if this will help, but I want you to know that you are not alone in how you feel.  I will tell you that I struggled with forgiveness toward my Mother for most of my life.  My mother abused me terribly when I was a child, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  There was a time when I hated her so much I not only wished she was dead, but even plotted her murder!  When you’ve been hurt and betrayed so many times by someone who’s supposed to love you the pain can almost become more than you can bear.  It is stressful, and your body reacts to stress.  It’s been proven many times over that mental and emotional issues often trigger and are at the core of many physical illnesses.  I know because I’ve experienced it first hand.

     First of all let me tell you that forgiveness isn’t an impossible dream.  It can be acheived even toward those who have wronged you terribly.  Often the desire to forgive, and the guilt over not wanting to forgive, and not being able to forgive become a catch 22.  These thoughts create a loop in our minds that keeps playing over and over again thus putting us in a place where we always feel the pain of the betrayal, and the guilt over not being able to forgive.  It’s a terrible place to be.

     I’ve forgiven my mother.  I’ve forgiven her for the past, and I forgive her for those times in the present when she still tries to hurt me.  How can I do this?  First of all, I had to change the way I looked at forgiveness, and how I thought about it.  As human beings, we tend to look at forgiveness through an emotional lens because our feelings are so strong about it.  We feel therefore we react.  As in so much of life, it’s often our approach that gets us into trouble, and causes trouble for those around us, and this is especially true in the realm of forgiveness.

     People like to beat each other up over forgiveness, and try to one up each other.  Well if you hadn’t done this, then I wouldn’t have done that, and what you did was so much worse, than what I did….ect.  I’m not saying you’ve done this, but I know by your own admission that you are still holding on to the hurt.  I’m not accusing you nor trying to make you feel bad, but truth is truth.  This is one of the things that makes forgiveness so hard.  When we’ve been hurt, we don’t forget.  There’s a lot of people who go around spreading a lot of cockamamie nonsense and garbage about forgiveness.  One of my favorites is, “You haven’t forgiven if you haven’t forgotten.”  Ever heard that one before?  Talk about laying a guilt trip on someone!  By the way, this is one of Satan’s favorite ploys, and he’ll try to use it to destroy your relationship with Christ at worst, and make you ineffective in your life at the very least.  The truth is you’ll never forgive anyone if you believe this garbage because no human being ever forgets the things that have caused them deep pain.  Sadly, too many people, try to use forgiveness, the getting and giving of, as a tool for manipulation and abuse.  It’s sad that human beings can find such a myriad of ways to be cruel to each other, and you can thank Satan for that because he’s a master at it. 

     If you truly desire to forgive and receive forgiveness, and get that nasty loop out of your head, there’s only one way to do it.  In order to truly offer forgiveness you must understand what it is, and what it is not.  First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling or emotional response.  If you wait to feel like you’ve forgiven someone you may be waiting for the rest of your life.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say anywhere that anyone felt like forgiving, or that you have to wait until you feel like it before you can forgive someone.  Go ahead, and look you won’t find any reference to feeling forgiveness in the word of God.  So understand that the act of forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with our emotions or the feelings of other people. 

     Forgiveness is a decision of the will.  You have to consciously decide that you’re going to give forgiveness, to extend forgiveness even to those who have hurt you regardless of how you feel about it.  A careful study of the word of God makes it very clear.  God expects us to forgive those who have hurt us.  Nowhere does He say you must forget, or that you must deny how you feel.   Forgiveness is a decision and action based on that decision.  When forgiveness becomes an act of the will rather than a response to emotion then forgiving those who hurt us becomes achievable.  If you want to be able to understand forgiveness then look to God  and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as your example.  I suggest you do a Bible study on forgiveness.  Start with Mat. 6:14-15, and go on from there.

     Forgiveness is about the will, about making a choice, about making a decision, that no matter what someone does to us, we will not treat them in the same way they treat us.  Sometimes it’s a process.  Sometimes, it’s a minute by minute decision.  The important thing to remember is that we must be willing.  To this day, my mother doesn’t treat me much better than she ever did.  Do I like it?  No.  Do I treat her in the same way she treats me?  No.  How do I forgive her and continue to forgive her in spite of it all?  I remember this: I’ve said and done horrible, dispicable, awful things in my life to other people, and  I’ve sinned greatly against God!  Then I remember that Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of those awful, horrible, dispicable things I did, and forgave me for each and every one of them.  Then I remember that God loves me so much that He continues to bless my life daily with His goodness, mercy, and compassion. 

     I can tell you this in conclusion.  God doesn’t just want us to forgive.  He demands it!  Why?  Because it’s an affornt to the love and forgiveness He extended and continues to extend to us each and every day.  Being forgiving doesn’t mean that we have to put ourselves in the line of fire all the time, that we have to stand in front of someone and let them berate us over and over again.  It simply means that we choose to treat those people, and to extend to those people the same thing that God does for us.

     There for a long time, I didn’t want to forgive, couldn’t forgive.  In my own strength, I could not do it.  I was filled with bitterness and anger and hurt, and because of it I paid a high price, and my family did, too.  In case, you didn’t know, your family stays and moves within the same circles that you do, and they’re affected just as much as you are by the decisions and choices you make.  Do you really want them there?  My relationship with God went south, too.  You destroy your intimacy with God when you refuse to walk as He wants you to.  It’s not that God stops loving you, but when you walk outside of His will, you choke off the blessings He desires to give you because He cannot and will not condone sin in your life.  When you don’t think you can, remember this, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.” Phillipians 4:13.

Your Friend,
Wayne

From “Morning and Evening” by C.H. Spurgeon

 

     This is what it feels like to be forgiven, and this is the response we should have. 

“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

Eph_1:7

Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and for ever? Hell is my portion as a sinner-there is no possibility of my escaping from it while sin remains upon me-can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. I have believed in the appointed propitiation, even Jesus crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and for ever, forgiven by virtue of his substitutionary pains and death. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul! My soul dedicates all her powers to him who of his own unpurchased love became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through his blood. What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul.