God definitely has a sense of humor.
I got the chance to teach at church again today.....the topic....."forgiveness".
My initial response? Ouch.
See--- I "get" that I need to be forgiven... I can be a real jerk on ocassion. What's a bit more painful... and a bit more difficult, is forgiving others.
It's not that I'm basically a mean- unforgiving person..... it's just that there are SO MANY little ways I catch my self being unforgiving.....
But let me back up--- see this is pretty typical of my journey with God, it generally goes like this:
I read something in the bible--- I have an opportunity to "practice" living it out,I don't live it out. Then I figure- I don't have it right---so I better UNDERSTAND exactly what God is saying. That involves work.
It's easier just to open the Bible, and read what it says..... then, assume that I understand... but- when I do that, I miss things. Sometimes BIG things.
Like in understanding Forgiveness.
Here is the greekword for- and meaning of- forgiveness:
TDNT Entry: Aphesis
release from bondage or imprisonment
forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty
Ok... on first glance-- I'm good. I'm not generally throwing people in prison.
I'm good, right? Nope.
Here's my issue----- it's not JUST about throwing people in prison.. (physical or emotional) It's about REMISSION of penalty. Most of the time- when someone sins against me, It's not gonna be a judicial offense. We're not talking 20-30 years...I don't throw them in prison.
But- somehow- I manage to find LOTS of little ways to punish people without sending them to jail. I might blow off their opinion....I might NOT say something nice I felt like saying... because they "don't deserve my nice words".....I might NOT do something nice for someone--- because, well- because they ticked me off.
Little, almost invisible punishments.
Nice, quiet, non- swearing "Christian" ways of punishing people?
NOT. They arereally just harboring unforgiveness in my heart. A thing that God detests.
Told ya--- OUCH.
The bible says that God has forgiven me... so I SHOULD forgive others. It also says if I DON'T... God isn't "bound" (in a contractural sense) to forgive me. Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
Does that mean I let people walk all over me? Nope. But it does mean I clearly communicate when they hurt me- and forgive them. It also means- that some people- hold a smaller place in my life "budget" because they frequently hurt me.
It's all kind of messy. Cause- it isn't cut and dry. It's about the attitude of my heart. The truth is I've been a Christian ( just trying to follow God) for a long time. I've gotten pretty good at "appearance management"...Aren't we all? I'm rarely overtly nasty. But- the temptation to be a LITTLE retaliatory-- that's where I get messed up. I can be pretty creative when it comes to thinking of little punishments.
Oh, I guess I just mean that I can be un-forgiving--- while still LOOKING like I'm being forgiving. It's not about saying the words-- (though that is part) it's about allowing God- to change my heart. And offering to Him my hurts--- and trusting Him with the judgement.
I doubt I'm the only one- with this skill. Sometimes, I honestly don't even KNOW I'm doing it.
How about you? DO you have little ways to punish people? I challenge you to take a look at your heart--- and you actions- allow God to help change yours too...
I'm just so glad that God is patient- and kind- lovingly offering me little reminders.... like lessons I need to teach... to cause me to study.. to show me the "little" (HUGE) things that are tripping me up. To be with me and help to change me.
I'm glad He forgives me--- I need it.
Dear Lord- I love you- and I thank you for forgiving me.. I can be a real jerk. I need your help to be more forgiving Lord---please help me to see the "little" ways I strike back at people.. help me NOT to do them. I love you Lord-- and want to be more like you. amen!