Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life

Learning How to Forgive

Changing the Effects of the Past on the Present and the Future

1 – When we make choices that are out of touch with reality, we set ourselves up for suffering brutal collisions with reality.

2 – What is reality? For starters, reality is that I am not God! If I try to take responsibility for what is God’s responsibility, I will damage myself and others.

3 – I am responsible for my own decisions. I am not responsible for God’s decisions, and I am not responsible for other people’s decisions.

4 – What is reality? Reality is that God is Judge. He has not given me the responsibility to judge. Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).

5 – Reality is that I am a glorious being, created in the image of a magnificent God. My Father’s love for me has no limits. Nothing can alter it.

6 – Reality is also that I am a fallen being. I have been severely damaged as a result of my own wrong decisions, and the wrongness all around me.

7 – As Judge, God has made a Way through whom I can be rescued from the guilt, dysfunctions and lostness caused by my wrong choices. This Way is Jesus.

8 – God extends to me his offer of forgiveness. He has the authority to do this. I desperately need to be forgiven, although I could never earn forgiveness.

9 – I must decide whether or not to accept God’s offer. God has freedom to offer me forgiveness; I have freedom to decide how I’m going to respond.

10 – God’s forgiveness comes to me through Jesus. He is the only Way. I tell him the truth about my sin. In prayer I bring my sin to him on the cross.

11 – I rely on Christ’s cross to remove my guilt and all other effects of my sin. He bore my sin, my death. In exchange he now offers me his life (Romans 6:23).

12 – Experiencing God’s forgiveness begins to awaken in me a heart to forgive my enemy. I am growing in Christlikeness—becoming the kind of person who forgives.

13 – How can I become the kind of person who chooses to forgive? This doesn’t just happen. It takes time and work. I have to learn and mature in the process.

14 – I learn this from Jesus in discipleship to him. Here are eight things I learn from him that inform and develop my capacity to forgive my enemy:

15 – Forgiveness never denies or minimizes what is true. It does not deny wrong; it is a way to respond to wrong—the best way. Forgiveness opens the door to healing.

16 – If I have cancer, healing requires 1) that someone tell me the truth, and 2) that I respond with appropriate actions. Denying what is true can lead to death.

17 – Forgiveness means I choose to leave “pay-back” to God. Whether to retaliate, how much to retaliate, when to retaliate—these are God’s decisions.

18 – If I were to make these decisions about pay-back, I might well decide unjustly, even vindictively. Do I posses the required objectivity, insight, wisdom?

19 – Forgiveness means choosing not to assume the role of a victim. As Jesus’ follower, I am never a victim. Why? Because I have a heavenly Father!

20 – Jesus teaches me to trust my Father’s wisdom and goodness even when I don’t understand. Choosing to do so, I find I grow toward emotional adulthood.

21 – My heavenly Father is always with me, is all-powerful, knows everything, is fully just, loves me passionately and works all things for my good (Romans 8:28).

22 – Seeing myself as a victim traps me in immaturity. An emotionally mature adult has the wisdom for responding to all of life in productive, redemptive ways.

23 – “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:13, 14a).

24 – Forgiveness cultivates God’s healing in me and through me. It is to my great benefit. Bitterness can harm me more than anything my enemy has done.

25 – Forgiveness is the best option for responding to past pain. I cannot change the past, but I can change the effects the past has on the present and the future.

26 – Forgiveness opens me to deeper insight and understanding. It can bring my thoughts, emotions and soul to peace and clarity. Forgiveness opens the way to wisdom.

27 – Do I share any responsibility in the wrong that was done? What role might my own attitudes, words or actions have played? Am I seeing the past accurately?

28 – Wounded areas inside may cause us to misinterpret the words or actions of another. Did I feel offense where no offense was intended?

29 – Pain in a current relationship may be related to unhealed pain in a past relationship. This is known as transference. Mature love is not easily offended.

30 – Often deep relational hurt between two people indicates they were once very close. Trust has been broken. Rebuilding it will take patience, kindness, mercy.

31 – Putting aside anger and pay-back opens the way for relational healing with my enemy. Nobody wants to be around someone who is trying to punish them.

32 – As I am healed by living in God’s Presence, I become aware that I too need to be forgiven. My own need for mercy encourages me to extend mercy to another.

33 – Jesus said if I am unwilling to forgive those who have wronged me my Father will not forgive me (Matthew 6:14-15). Strong words! Powerful motivation!

34 – Forgiveness opens the way for reconciliation in marriages, families, friendships, churches, work places. Christ is making all things new (Revelation 21:5).

35 – But I am only responsible for my own choices; I cannot demand something from another. If only one party is ready to forgive, reconciliation may have to wait.

36 – Forgiveness forms Christlikeness in me. I was created to be like him. In God’s Presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

 

 

Last edited—April 23, 2017

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