September 23, 2015
To Forgive or Not to Forgive
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Forgiving someone who has hurt me or someone I love is hard. I want to get even. I want them to feel the same kind of pain they have caused. That is my frail humanity speaking loud and clear! And then the Father reminds me that I am no longer slave to that old nature. The new nature - His nature - chooses to respond very differently with unconditional love and true forgiveness.
Part of true forgiveness is releasing the hurt and letting go of the pain. When we don’t, it becomes a constant spiritual and emotional drain, robbing us of joy, peace … even health.
Did you know that un-forgiveness is now classified as a disease in medical books? According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and prevents their recovery. In fact, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases such as cancer.
"It's important to treat emotional wounds or disorders because they really can hinder someone's reactions to cancer treatments, even someone's willingness to pursue treatment," Standiford explained.
Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues, and of those, more than half are severe, according to research by Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and author. Barry goes on to explain, "Harboring negative emotions such as anger and hatred creates a state of chronic anxiety. Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which are your body's foot soldiers in the fight against cancer."
True forgiveness always requires sacrifice on our part – a truth that may often seem unfair in human terms. After all, we are the ones who have been hurt. Why should we have to sacrifice anything? Shouldn’t the people who hurt us be the ones who have to make the first move and offer the biggest sacrifice?
True forgiveness – God’s forgiveness – defies human logic and cannot be explained in human terms. Human forgiveness is easier but a shallow substitute and cheap imitation for the amazing power of God’s forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an independent act between God and us. It is totally separate from the response or reaction of the person we are forgiving. We are not responsible for their reaction; that responsibility belongs to them and to God. Our responsibility is only to forgive.
Forgiveness is a deliberate choice – not an emotion or a feeling. Feelings may or may not follow that choice, but God’s favor certainly will.
To experience the power of forgiveness, we have to quit fishing in the emotional waters of our past, let go of the pain … and walk on.
I love superglue. One day, I was trying to repair a miniature tea set, reached for my trusty superglue and went to work. I glued the broken saucer and held it in place for 30 seconds, only to discover that I had glued my finger to the saucer. After several painful minutes of struggling to work my finger loose, I was free. The whole painful experience reminded me of forgiveness. When we refuse to release people from the hurt they have caused us, we are gluing them to their mistakes. When we cling to pain they have caused us, we are refusing to see them as more than something that they have done.
When we accept the forgiveness of God, He separates us from our sins. Then He calls us to do the same with the people in our lives. Nowhere does God say that we have to feel like forgiving. He just commands us to forgive. Our feelings are irrelevant. Our obedience is what matters.
We cannot base the validity of our choice to forgive on how we feel.
If we make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.
There should be no limit to our forgiveness because there is no limit to His.
Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest gift.
Right now … choose to forgive and set yourself free!
Father, I come to You today, asking first for Your forgiveness for the sin in my life. I choose to turn from that sin and obey you. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Give me the strength and power to extend that same mercy and grace to those in my life who have hurt me.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What hurt or pain are your holding in your heart and life? Realize it is holding you prisoner and make the choice to let it go today. Forgive the person who hurt you.
What one person do you need to forgive right now? Pray for that person. Ask God to let you see them through His eyes and make the deliberate choice to forgive them.
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Girlfriends in God
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Originally published Wednesday, 23 September 2015.