Thursday, June 10, 2010

Total Forgiveness

Forgiveness. An act of selflessness that can be so hard to exercise. Forgiveness requires us to lay our pain aside and truly walk into forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us.

This can be an almost impossible task at times in our lives. When someone has hurt us or broken us, getting past it without bitterness requires that we do forgive them. I've learned that forgiveness doesn't mean that a relationship has to be means that the peace of Christ will consume our hearts over the pain or betrayal and bitterness will flee. It is the only way we will find freedom and release from the offense.

I chose not to share the details of the story behind the unforgiveness that I have harbored in my heart for over a year and a half at the destructive words spoken after one of the most devastating events in my life. But, however, I will share that these words cut like a knife deep into my heart leaving a scar. I have, to be honest, I hated the people that spoke them. I have carried this anger around and it has tainted so many other areas of my life and crept that negative energy into other relationships.

I thought that forgiveness meant condoning the actions that caused pain. It doesn't. It means the release of harbored pain and anger that can effect our emotions, our health, and our relationships with those that had nothing to do with the situation(s). It can also impose difficulty to forgive when the offender doesn't feel the slightest twinge of conscience.

I read recently a quote on forgiveness that states: "The ultimate proof of TOTAL forgiveness takes place when we sincerely petition the Father to let those who have hurt us off the hook - even if they have not hurt only us, but also those close to us". God mandates in His Scriptures that we forgive. Ephesians 4:32 "Be KIND and COMPASSIONATE to one another, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, just as Christ God forgave you."

Think of all the sins in our lives. Deliberate actions that go directly against what God asks us to do. But yet, He gave the ultimate price for our forgiveness. He GAVE His only Son to die for our sins so that we could live in His mercy and that we could walk as His forgiven children. He holds no grudge against those who honestly and earnestly petition forgiveness for our sins. If God gave His Son...can we not give our hearts? Can we not forgive each other and walk in love towards one another?

In reading R.T. Kendall's book 'Total Forgiveness' he explains through Scripture what forgiveness isn't. I think we get blinded by and fear the misconception of what forgiveness is and isn't. This can lead us to not move into forgiveness and the freedom that prevails.

Here is a list of what Mr. Kendall pens that forgiveness is NOT: (from pages 23 - 31 in his book, supported by Scriptures from God's word)

* Approval of what they did
* Excusing what they did
* Justifying what they did
* Pardoning what they did
* Reconciliation
* Denying what they did
* Blindness to what happened
* Forgetting
* Refusing to take the wrong seriously
* Pretending we are not hurt

And to help us understand what total forgiveness is, he helps by explaining through Scriptures how we can walk into this freedom from bondage to past hurts. Total forgiveness IS: (pages 31-46)

* Being aware of what someone has done and still forgiving them
* Choosing to keep no record of wrongs
* Refusing to punish
* Not telling what they did
* Being merciful
* Gracious
* Forgiveness is an inner condition
* It is the ABSENCE of bitterness
* Forgiving God (all of our bitterness is ultimately traceable to resentment of God
or unconscious anger that He would allow this pain to happen)
* Forgiving ourselves

I was relieved to see for once a true list that is backed by God's word that helped me to understand what total forgiveness is and is not. I have been so reluctant to forgive for fear of what it would mean, but now knowing what it is and isn't has opened my heart to explore the pain and earnestly kneel at the foot of the cross first to ask God to forgive my sins so that I could move into totally forgiving others and asking others to forgive me.

This is such a pivotal time in my life. There are many changes going on. Some I have no control over and others that I may be able to influence reconciliation by seeking forgiveness and walking in total forgiveness of others.

It by no means is easy. But I am determined to seek the depths of my heart to rid it of anything that causes me to walk in anything less than God's perfect peace that at times can surpass any understanding!

In His Grip ~

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