I Felt Challenged upon listening this morning to a sermon by Alistair Begg on Forgiveness (7 May 2019, “Forgiven and Forgiving” Part 3 of 3; https://www.truthforlife.org ).
This is an aspect of Christian living that is vital, necessary, and not easy. It is really at the core of things. In light of Pastor Begg’s look at the Lord’s Prayer and his sermons breaking down the phrases Christ uses, I find it pressing on me to examine my heart and thoughts for what might still be slights or offenses that I need to fully or completely forgive. I rather appreciate Pastor Begg’s look and what it means to forgive:
(Excerpt from the sermon:
And it is essentially a threefold promise, because when we express forgiveness to another person, this is what we should be saying: “I forgive you. And therefore, I will not bring the matter up to you again. Secondly, I will not bring the matter up to someone else. Thirdly, I will not bring the matter up to myself.”
I’ve started to pray-fully think and review the things that come to mind when I ask myself, “Who or what do I still need to forgive?” and I intend to take these things to God. While upon examining these things, I know or realize that the better approach isn’t to take it to the person but to God since it’s been so long or could make things more complicated or worse. My initial thoughts when I go to my mind and start to look at my heart is a bit like, “I’m good; there’s nothing I need to forgive,” but that doesn’t seem wholly true. Oh, I guess I suppressed or didn’t fully address this or that. In fact, a couple things easily came to mind as I was listening to the sermon. Turns out I thought I’d already dealt with them, and I may have. Perhaps I didn’t address them to the fullest extent. Some of that may be God’s timing in dealing with a me that wasn’t completely ready. No, I’m not going to list those past things here. I intend to list them elsewhere and then pray over them. I want to take them to God and forgive those slights. Then I’ll strike them off the list and throw the list away – not quite as far as the East is from the West but in a trash bin far from me.
It is a choice, not dependent on feelings. Yes, I know I may not feel like wanting to forgive but I can still choose to forgive.
(Excerpt from sermon:
So we forgive in obedience to the command of God, we make the promise as God has made, and it is more than possible that eventually the feelings will follow.
There have been clearly defined faults by others in my life. There have been things of my own making in a sense. Maybe then I need to forgive myself about those things that I’ve influenced? There are past relational complications. Bitterness and resentment have been allowed to grow, and there may need to be recognition of forgiving what I can and relinquishing the rest to God. What then might I do with these residue of feelings? Take them to God I suppose.
I know I’ve previously wanted to blame those who’ve hurt me and wanted them to recognize, recompense or deliver restitution. I’ve gotten angry, but come to fatigue myself and think it all wasted energy. What’s the point since harm’s been done? Is it going to do any good if I pursue what seems reasonable vengeance? Maybe they should at least know I hurt.
Is it so hard for the other party to see how much I’ve been hurt?! Though in looking at the cross, I feel so small and unqualified when I want to yell that to others.
Yes, there are consequences to what transpired. Forgiving doesn’t eliminate or make those consequences go away. And it seems I’m living with the hurt and wounding of some of those consequences. Can I then properly address and help heal those areas without getting pissed off or negating forgiveness? I know these things are best handled by God and His grace; yet, it’s still hard not to get my emotions so stirred up and potentially in the way. Are they going to scar much in the healing process?
I feel like it’s been slow, but the more manageable approach it seems to me is to address each in turn those rooted aspects, to weed them out with love and patience.
I need to be intentional about speaking God’s truth over and replacing where I’ve harbored, and internalized, lies about myself, others or situations. I am NOT alone! I have brothers and sisters in Christ. I have a wife. I am a loved person, a child of God. Truths that should be reiterated again and again, since years have passed to only reinforce lies.
I need to realize and wholly embrace all that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit provide in a complete consummate relationship as a believer and fellow heir. I need Jesus! I depend, and should even more, upon Him daily. I need to look to God in all things and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. I should start the day off with Him and be intentional throughout the rest of the day, every day.
I need to adopt better habitual mechanisms that could replace sinful, harmful ones that have become ingrained. Easier said than done, I know; new habits can take time. That’s why and where reminders and others can help, supporting me in going through. I need to choose to look at right or good things, instead of letting my mind wander. Let my guard be ready. I need to put on God’s armor daily and dwell in His word frequently.
I need reminders that emotions are acceptable, as well as communicating in a safe, right way and environment. At times I need to yell at paper! At times I need to cry on the carpet before God! I need and can confide in close friends! I need and should be open and honest with my wife!
It’s all about relationships. Praying intentionally the Lord’s Prayer allows me to examine my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my relationship with fellow people, especially those I love. Forgiveness is key.