Monday, March 7, 2011

Detoxing our Emotions - What Forgiveness is and is not!

 Before we move on to "How do I really forgive someone and make it stick"  we need to talk about what forgiveness is and is not.  We have to understand this so we can forgive and STAY in the place of forgiveness.  Many times the hardest part is not deciding to forgive someone, but the act of continuing to forgive when they continue to hurt us or the feelings and reminders of past hurts continue to affect our lives.  You will be more successful if you have a good understanding of these points. 

So... Forgiveness is NOT:

  • Forgetting - but it is healing from the hurt. Healing can not come until you forgive
  • Minimizing the hurt - It did hurt, it was and sometimes still is painful. 
  • Watering down the offense - forgiveness calls the violation what it is. 
  • For the benefit of the person who forgives; it brings healing and wholeness
  • Does not always mean reconciliation
  • IS NOT A FEELING - If you wait until you "feel" like forgiving you will probably never do it. Forgiveness is a choice and the "feelings' will still be there even after you "choose" to forgive, but if you continue to choose to forgive the feelings will begin to lessen over time.
Forgiveness IS:
  • A Choice - a Decision of your will - You can't turn back the clock and change the past but you can be free from it - but it's your decision.  As long as you harbor anger and unforgiveness toward someone you are allowing the person to still hurt you and control you.  The only way to be free from the pain is to forgive them. 
  • Agreeing to live with the consequences of anothers sin or behaviorr - The fact of the matter is you are going to live with those consequences whether you like it or not, so the only choice is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness.
  • Is choosing not to hold someones sin or behavior against them anymore - It is common for people filled with unforgiveness to bring up past issues with those who have hurt them.  When you have truly forgiven someone you let go of the past and focus on the present and future.
The Story of Joseph is a wonderful story of forgiveness.  He had every reason to hate and be bitter and unforgiving.  He even had an opportunity to “pay back” and chose not to.  Read Genesis to learn more about Joseph.  Realize that Joseph was only 17 when all this happened. Joseph went through betrayal, hurt, lies and many other unjust circumstances that were not of his own doing for the next 17 years, yet his statement after it all came to light and he was restored to a place of honor was:

 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
Genesis 50:20 (New Living Translation)

What perspective did Joseph display that enabled him to more easily forgive?  Think about why this perspective is so important.

True forgiveness is seldom easy.  It can be quite costly but it’s a powerful weapon for tearing down strongholds in our lives and hearts. The enemy will use unforgiveness and anger to keep us in bondage.  When we surrender our unforgiveness and anger we set our own heart free so God can take us place we never dreamed possible.
Colossians 3:12-15  12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves; you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Next Post:  The process of forgiving

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