5) Forgiveness (Part II of II)

Nov 03, 10 5) Forgiveness (Part II of II)

A REVOLUTIONARY concept/idea Part II:

Definitions:

Horizontal – sideways, and not up & down.  We look at the ‘horizon’; this is where the sky meets the land.

Debts – something that is owed; an obligation to pay

Debtor – a person who is in debt or under an obligation to another


New Testament (NT) forgiveness:

One of the new ideas extended to us through the NT writings is the concept of “Horizontal” forgiveness.


Horizontal forgiveness is different from God forgiving our sin; that would be a ‘repentance-based’ forgiveness.1 I’m writing instead about the forgiveness we offer to our fellow human beings.  THIS is a revolutionary idea; an idea first introduced by Jesus in the NT when he taught his disciples how to pray to God2

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, Luke 11:4)


So what does this look like exactly?

Well, imagine someone has ‘wronged’ you perhaps by hurting you deeply; God says you have to forgive them.  Ouch! That seems really impossible sometimes.  It is so much easier to hug that hurt close, feeling almost righteous in the pain it causes.  We DESERVE to feel hurt after all, right?  But that is exactly what a Christian is told not to do because true forgiveness requires that we do not withhold our forgiveness.


Why does God expect Christians to forgive?

If you have an ‘unforgiven’ issue in your life, you in a way have closed the door to God to be able to enter into that area of your life.  You are withholding not only your forgiveness to a human, a created being like yourself; you are also withholding yourself from God, our creator.


This is the hard question, with the even harder answer: How can we, as Christians, withhold our forgiveness by holding on to our anger, bitterness, hurt, when he doesn’t withhold his forgiveness for ANYTHING we as a sinful human has or could do?  This is the hard truth; you have to CHOOSE to FORGIVE.  You can’t wait for a fuzzy feeling to come over you; you have to make a conscience decision to just do it.  You’ll need God’s help so tell him you choose to forgive this person or these people.  The Holy Spirit will help you and because you have done that, Satan will no longer be able to hold on to that area of your life because you have invited God into it.  But can’t you wait until that person apologizes? No, sorry.  We are required to forgive like Jesus who on the cross, suffering incredible pain, was able to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)


Maybe you’ve forgiven those around you; you recognize its hard being human and you ‘get’ it: that we ALL sin.  Maybe, though, there is one more person you are withholding your forgiveness from.  Could that person be you?


Today, let the Holy Spirit help you search your heart: is there anyone, including yourself, which you need to forgive?


Endnotes:

1 Repentance means a turning to God and allowing him to bestow on you, his gift of forgiveness, which, if you accept, means you have recognized His son’s sacrifice is payment for our sins.

2 No other world religion except Christianity teaches a forgiveness model like the one Jesus teaches us.

3 Forgiving doesn’t mean that you tolerate another person’s sin and especially if it is an on-going abuse against you or another person.  Our God will help you make a stand against further abuse and you may need human help as well by talking about abuse with a trusted adult.  Forgiving doesn’t mean that you forget either.  It does mean that those memories no longer have any power over you and God can begin to heal you of the pain you’ve experienced.

For a really in-depth study of the biblical concept of Forgiveness, read: http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Forgiveness

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