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The Tyranny of Unforgiveness

3 Jun

But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 Amplified

I don’t really want to get into the last part of this verse, but lets take a long look at the “If” portion. If I understand the tense it is written in (Second Aorist, Active, Subjunctive) it means that we are to forgive when and if we have occasion to forgive–in other words when there is an offense against us.

Forgiveness means to cut off, to send away, to set free, to cancel a debt. Forgiveness does not mean that you are disregarding sin and doing nothing about it, but you are liberating a person from them, their guilt, and their power (Zodhiates). Normally we think about forgiveness like this in terms of God forgiving us. But it seems we have two choices here: 1) We can nurture our hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with our relationship with God, or 2) We can forgive and let it go.

Nurturing implies paying attention to something, caring for it, and feeding it. This means that you are often pulling your list(s) of offenses off the shelf and meditating on them instead of meditating on God’s will or God’s Word. I would much rather cut the gum-like offense off of me and free myself from its tyranny over me and my spiritual and emotional well-being. We are never more like God than when we forgive.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But it is God’s way. When I was a new Christian I soon learned about forgiveness, but did not understand HOW to forgive. I read books and looked for ways to forgive a certain individual in my life. I remember reading about someone who wrote down all the offenses that someone had made against her and then burned them.  I thought, “If it worked for her, it can work for me.” I grabbed a notebook and began writing page after page of offenses.  (Doesn’t this sound more like nurturing than cutting off?) After I burned it, I kept thinking of other offenses to add to the list. I would have had to maintain a perpetual fire to deal with it. *chuckle* It interfered with my relationship with a forgiving God.

I honestly believed in forgive and forget, but I couldn’t forget, and that’s because I didn’t understand my enemy.

I learned that forgiveness is a decision of our will. We simply make a decision to forgive.  Now the enemy–or all three enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil–will try to convince us to nurture the offense and that we are right to do so. The battle that follows the decision to forgive is in our minds. We need to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

If nothing else helps us to forgive, this will: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Martin Luther (not King) Day

15 Jan

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In a sermon last Sunday, I heard this quote from a Martin Luther letter to his dear friend which had me guffawing in church.  Read it and tell me if you think he would make it today when we are so careful of one another’s feelings?

I beg you, who are so pugnacious in everything else, fight against yourself, your own worst enemy, for you furnish Satan with too many weapons against yourself. . . . I pray for you very earnestly, and I am deeply pained that you keep sucking up cares like a leech and thus rendering my prayers vain. . . . If we are not strengthened by his promises, where in all the world are the people to whom these promises apply?  But more of this another time.  After all, my writing this is like pouring water into the sea.

 

From Luther:  Letters of Spiritual Counsel (p. 147)

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