How Can I Forgive?

 December 2, 2011

This week I’ve been writing about conflict and wounded hearts.  I’ve also been talking about how to react when we are mistreated and abused.  This is not an easy subject to talk about because it is not easy to respond the way we should, therefore it makes us uncomfortable to discuss.


But we must remember that this comes with transformation and as the Holy Spirit transforms us on the inside we will automatically begin to respond more and more the way that we should.  So in the meantime, we must be watchful and when we slip up, do not entertain condemnation.  We must forgive ourselves as Christ forgives us and move forward.


Here is a scripture that follows in line with what we have been discussing this week.


Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.


Now as I said, we are being transformed from inside out by the Holy Spirit.  But we still have choices to make.  Here Paul is telling the Ephesians to ‘get rid’ of these things.  We will make mistakes, but we must not become so reliant on the grace of God that we don’t guard our mouths.  This is something that the Holy Spirit will help us do, but we must submit ourselves to this.


Here Paul is showing inappropriate behavior but he is also showing us what we should do to replace that behavior.  We are to put aside all bitterness, anger, harsh words and slander and in all circumstances be kind to each other, tenderhearted, and forgiving one another.  He quantifies this by saying, just as God through Christ has (past tense) forgiven us.


When we become angry at a wrong that someone has done to us one of the first things we tend to do is to justify our anger.  He did this to me.  She said that about me.  Those actions may be true, but we must learn to run to God for healing immediately so that he can help us not be angry, but be forgiving and loving.


We as a people had a sin nature before being born again.  God would have been fully just in being angry towards us with our inherent sin nature.  Then on top of that the independent sinful acts we commit would be additional reasons why He would be fully just in condemning us.  But he doesn’t.  He loves us fully and completely beyond anything we can ever imagine.


So if the God of the universe chooses to love despite the slanderous and wicked behavior we exhibit, then who are we to choose differently for our fellowman?  If we hope to experience love from others then we must choose to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit to heal us and funnel God’s love through us. 


It is a choice, to be submissive.  We cannot exhibit transformed behaviour in and of ourselves, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit.  You don’t have to force love when you feel no love, for that is near impossible.  So God Himself even made a way for loving others who have wronged us to be simple.  By submission. 


When we submit to the Holy Spirit to heal us then we will love.  We’ve tried for too long to do it the hard way.  We’ve tried to love, forgive and be kind in and of ourselves.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to do this through us.  So when Paul says to do these things he is encouraging us to submit to the Holy Spirit to heal us and work through us.  Submission is in our control.


But the truth is sometimes we just do not want to forgive.  We do not want to forget.  We want retribution.  So when these thoughts rise up inside of us we must remember the grace that God Himself has shed to us and choose to do the same.  With time God’s grace will so overtake our hearts that it will be more and more difficult to be wounded and much easier to just love in response.


I’m working toward that day by choosing to submit to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, hourly basis and moment by moment basis.  For therein is where true freedom lies.

 Forgivness picture w red

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