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The Model of Healing and Newness from God - the Perfect Forgiver

I love early summer – the beauty of flowers, green grass, the brightness of sunshine, longer days, shorter nights. Bbq’s, picnics, time on the deck.  And --- when I think of all these bright, fun, beautiful images – I find myself reflecting on the Giver of Life and newness and healing and cleanness (is that a word – cleanness?) – AND – what is it that keeps us from experiencing all of the above!  I then ponder forgiveness and the Forgiver – the picture of Perfect Forgiveness from the Perfect Forgiver.  How often does forgiveness become a stumbling block for us – either we do not ‘feel’ forgiven – or we are unwilling to forgive those whom we perceive as having ‘wronged us.’  So – we do not avail ourselves of all this beauty and newness! 

The absolute truth is – forgive is available for us.  Jesus forgives us – that is the story of an empty cross and an empty tomb; however, we often are not as quick to forgive ourselves or others. 

 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Wrapped up in the subject of forgiveness is our ongoing struggle with shame, guilt, and God’s grace.  Often we do not understand the declaration from the Book of Romans – “There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  We condemn ourselves or others when God does neither. 

There are beautiful word pictures in the Old Testament of forgiveness.  Joseph, whom his brothers had sold into slavery, was able to declare to them in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation – “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”   And then when he was reunited with his estranged brother Esau, Jacob declared, “For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” 

According to Webster, forgiveness means “to cease to feel resentment against an offender; to give up resentment of or claim to requital for an insult or injury; to grant relief from a payment due on a debt.” 

Consider the definition again:  To cease to feel resentment….Against an offender….To give up resentment or claim….For an injury….To grant relief….From a payment due on a debt.

Choices matter!  Our choices matter!  And God gives us opportunity to choose to cease to resent another – a conscious choice!  From Hebrews we are reminded:  “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Bitterness defiles many – and the bitterness begins in our own heart.

In other words, forgiveness means to choose to willingly give up one’s legitimate rights for repayment – and one’s tools of punishment – both now and in the future.

A few lies people believe about forgiveness that keeps forgiveness at bay:

“I’ll just ignore the hurt and bitterness, and eventually it will go away.  When it doesn’t hurt anymore, it’ll be easier to forgive.”

“If I can get even, then I’ll feel better.  Maybe then I’ll be able to forgive.”

“They need to admit they were wrong.  I’ll forgive when and if they ask for forgiveness.”

Isn’t it amazing that we actually choose to ‘nurse a grudge’ and remain bound and critical and miserable rather than allow God to help us forgive and be forgiven?  But even more amazing is the opportunity we have to ask for forgiveness and then to actually forgive!

Why must we forgive? ---

To be free.

To break the cycle.

To begin the process of healing.

To receive his ‘cleanness!’

Because God commands it – see I John 1:9 at the beginning of this article.

What a perfect week to ponder forgiveness.  The first week of June – the promise of summer – the opportunity for newness.  Whether you are the forgiven or the forgiver (probably both) – newness, freedom, cleanness await you.  Forgive – and be forgiven!


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