Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
I have had a very uncomfortable and painful lesson in forgiveness and want to share it with you so that perhaps you may be able to learn from my mistakes and spare yourself the pain and misery I have experienced.
The above passage comes right after the Lord teaches his disciples to pray, I get the sense that He barley paused before launching into His explanation of,"Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.". Forgiveness seems to be a problem for all men,(and women) of all the ages. We tend to think an eye for an eye is meant to be applied to all aspects of life; it is not. The eye for an eye concept has very specific application in Law and is a guide to Judges hearing property damage lawsuits, (Lev_24:20).
Forgiveness as our Lord spoke of it, is a "tool" for human interaction.
Here is what I learned these past 2 months. I learned that forgiveness is more than a simple letting go of the feelings of anger or offense towards another human being, It is the letting go of any sense of debt; any sense of they owe you anything, whither it is money or an apology or any other type of recompense.
I learned that lesson the hard way, which seems to be the usual way for me. Someone had offended me and I blew up sky high. The offense was minor and did not deserve the response I gave it but because this person is unable to apologize for any of the hurt that person dishes out and usually blames the one they hurt for being hurt, I felt they owed me for past offenses. I may have damaged this relationship beyond repair, I don't know at this time.
Even though we no longer feel offended or angry at the other person it does not mean we have forgiven them, feelings are very unreliable for determining these kinds of things. If we have any sense that they owe us anything, forgiveness has not happened and that un-forgiveness will creep into the relationship in small hidden and sometimes insidious ways keeping you from bonding with that person in any kind of meaningful way.
Another name for un-forgiveness is resentment. In my case I had been resentful towards this person because they had refused to acknowledge and repent from the hurtful circumstances of past behavior.
The resentment built up inside of me until it exploded.
Okay, so what is the practical way of dealing with all of this, people will hurt and offend you, that's a fact, so what can you do to keep from doing what I did and explode? The simple answer is to pray for the other person when they hurt you or offend you and that may be enough for most daily trifle offenses, maybe.
I think that the twelve step programs have well codified the teaching of our Master and God into practical action to deal with circumstances such as these. And the answer is to do an Inventory or 4th step as 12 steppers call it.
When any other human being disturbs us, we must of course first turn to Jesus and ask for clarity and forgiveness for anything we have done to "cause" that person to upset us. Now, that is not as easy as it sounds because our ego and pride do not want to admit that we could have given anyone reason to offend us or hurt us. It is rare that human conflict is one sided, it does happen but it is rare, that is why in the 4th step inventory it is not complete until we look at what we have done in each objectionable situation that has contributed to offense.
The next step is to check out our discovery. Have we assessed the situation correctly? This step is best done with another human being one who is also on a spiritual path and is closed mouthed.
Next, is to take what we have discovered and bring it to God for His forgiveness and the application of His power to root out and be rid of the sinful nature that contributed to those situations.
The final step is to make amends where we have created harm, Jesus addressed this when he said, "Mat_5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Mat_5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Real forgiveness frees us of from the burden of resentment and the need to retaliate and gives us the ability to Love our neighbor as our-self. Another way to put it is it puts us in touch with our own humanity and our need for forgiveness from our God.
May God bless you and keep you until next time.
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