Monday, April 18, 2016

Forgiveness

This last week I spoke with a friend (we’ll call him Scott) who was sharing some fairly routine news when he casually blurted out, “Oh yeah, and I forgave my mom.”  I was like, “you did what???”  My reaction was so strong because Scott’s mom was a very verbally and emotionally abusive woman.  She hated Scott’s father for his infidelities and transferred her hatred for men to the nearest one available, in this case her son Scott. She told him to quit college so he could use the money he had saved/was earning for school to give to his younger sister. She had even encouraged him to commit suicide (but just not at their apartment so as not to embarrass her). The net result of this abuse was Scott leaving home and becoming homeless for the next 10 years.  God intervened a couple of years ago and brought Scott to a place of healing and restoration.  The one outstanding issue still left undealt with was Scott’s unforgiving attitude towards his mother.  He had held on to this belief in “justice" for so long it had become part of him.  Recently he had been under conviction for this but it really came to a head during an Easer service when a lady was sharing her testimony and observed that God will withhold His blessing when we are in disobedience to His will. While Scott’s feelings for his mom had lost some of there intensity, going from hatred to apathy, he still had not properly forgiven her in light of what God has forgiven him for.  As he told me, “It was like having something old and broken in your attic and never taking the time to just get rid of it.”  This Easter was his Spring cleaning day!  Scott wrote his mom a letter saying he forgave her for all of the hurts she had inflicted on him.  While he has not yet actually sent it to her, he did make the courageous step to have a friend witness his signing of it so as to memorialize he had officially forgiven her. He now feels a great sense of relief but maybe more importantly he has the knowledge that he is not willfully standing in the way of God’s blessing on his life.

Hebrews 12: 14-15
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 

Things to think about:

  • when Scott told me his story, it was like he told me he just went to the moon!  Knowing the years of abuse this woman heaped on him, the fact that he could now forgive her is nothing short of a miracle.  It is not in our nature to easily let go of wrongs.  Why? Because they’re wrong!  And when someone has wronged us, we want justice.
    • do you have a story of needing to forgive someone?
    • or maybe, have you been the person in need of forgiveness?
    • God wants justice too.  How does He reconcile seeing justice served yet offer us forgiveness?
    • Ephesians 4:32 - We should forgive each other “just as in Christ God forgave us” 
  • Sometimes though, the shoe is on the other foot though when we have fallen short.  We ask ourselves, “Why can’t he just let it go?  It’s been 10 years and he just won’t move on from it!”
  • Our verse starts off with “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone"
    • As Tom Lipsey would say every means every and everyone means everyone!
    • Maybe without the same authority as Tom :-) the apostle Paul says in Romans 12:18  "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
  • "Without holiness no one will see the Lord"
    • Scott told me that he really felt God had been hard to see in many of his circumstances and that he felt somewhat distant from Him
    • Why do we feel this disconnect from God when there is unholiness in our lives?
  • "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God"
    • we have looked at this acronym before GRACE - God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
    • no one starts with who?
    • how do we encourage one another to not fall short of the grace of God?
  • What does a bitter root cause?
    • When we are bitter we cause trouble and defile many
    • Defile means to violate, mar, spoil.  Are we at times contradicting our witness by holding on to real (or perceived) grievances and thus defiling many?
  • So with all of this before us, do you believe the old saying “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget” is biblical?
  • Can one can be an obedient child of God and hold on to a grudge or other root of bitterness?
    • if you or someone you love is laboring under the burden of unforgiveness, what one step can you (they) take TODAY to move forward?

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