Meanderings of a Minister


A Key Ingredient for Fireproofing Your Relationships
November 8, 2013, 1:22 pm
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Forgive

Have you ever tried to make or build something only to find out that you were missing an ingredient or a part?  How frustrating!  You set out with grand thoughts of riding your bicycle, watching a video or tasting some warm, fresh, straight-from-the-oven brownies only to have your hopes dashed on the rocks because there was something missing.  You could go and get it at the store, and you will, but it is just not the same because the anticipation subsides.

 What in the world does this have to do with relationships?  I am glad that you asked.  The one ingredient that can be missing for relationships, and cause those same relationships to lose their appeal, is forgiveness.  Yes, I said, “Forgiveness.”  Forgiveness is often missing from relationships because we do not understand what forgiveness is or are confused about how to forgive.  In some instances, we don’t even understand why we should forgive.  This issue is very important to preserving relationships.

 First, let’s start with why we should forgive.  Jesus told the story of the servant who owed his king 10,000 talents of gold in Matthew 18:21-35.  I would suggest stopping now to read it.  In the story, the servant was forgiven a huge sum, but refused to forgive his fellow servant for 100 days wages.  This seems wrong to us because of the amount the king had forgiven for the servant.  That was Jesus’ point exactly.  When we define sin as anything other than absolutely perfect (for this is what the word for sin in Greek actually means), it does not take a stretch of the imagination to realize we owed much more than just 10,000 talents of gold for the myriad of sins we have sinned.  If you have a relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, then all of those sins have been forgiven.  The least we can is to forgive others for the amazing small debt they owe.  We forgive because we have been forgiven.

 We also forgive or God will not forgive us.  That may sound shocking, but that is what Jesus said right after teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:1-15.  We must forgive in order to maintain our fellowship with God and with others and we must forgive to prevent Satan from driving a wedge in our relationships that would cause people to look down on our faith and our God.

 What does it mean to forgive?  Simply put, the word for forgiveness in the Matthew 18 passage we have already read is the word Aphoken.  It is a Greek word that means to send away.  What do we send away?  We send away our feelings of wanting to hurt someone that has hurt us.  We send away our need for revenge.  We send away the anger and bitterness that have built up in us.

 Forgiving does not mean forgetting what happened.  This is a fallacy that the enemy of our souls uses to keep us chained to unforgiveness.  You may be thinking, “But Jack, haven’t you read Isaiah 43:25 (NIV) ‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.’?  What does that mean if not that God forgets our sins and we must be willing to forget others’ sins if we are to forgive.  First, consider that God could not forget anything.  If God were to forget something, then there would be knowledge that God does not know.  It would mean that He is not omniscient and, if not omniscient, then not God.  When He says He forgets the sin, He means that He does not choose to remember the revenge that the sin calls for.  He does not hold it against us is another way of expressing this truth.  Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  Nor does it mean offering complete trust.

So how do I forgive?  Follow these simple steps.

1.  Pray and ask God to help you forgive.
2.  Make a decision to forgive.
3.  Say the words (if only to yourself) that you have forgiven.
4.  Forgive completely.
5.  Realize you might have to forgive repeatedly.
6.  Thank God for His forgiveness.
7.  Repeat steps 1-6 as needed until you have conquered the feelings of revenge and hurt that you would like to seek against the offender.

 Now that you know how…what will you do?

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