God’s Way Of Forgiving

When we get in touch with the heart of God, we discover that His methods of operation are entirely different from our own ways (see Isaiah 55:8-9).  In fact, God tells us in His word that we are actually to get revenge on our enemies by showing them love and forgiving them.  God calls us to a lifestyle of love and forgiveness that reflects His nature and character.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)

Does this mean we allow people to hurt us and walk on us “like a doormat?”  Absolutely not!  In fact, there are times when people commit wrongs against us in such a way that there needs to be a consequence.  That is something altogether different.

When we choose to deal with our pain independently of God’s prescribed methods, there will be a consequence in our lives.  Not only. will we have to deal with the shame that sin imposed upon us, but we’ll also live life outside God’s blessings that forgiveness brings.  When we choose to be obedient to God’s word and respond to violations through love, we will experience the blessings He has for us.

“Don’t’ repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God has called you to do, and He will bless you for it”. (1 Peter 3:9 NLT)

A Bitter Spirit

If we remain bitter over a particular event or person, we can eventually develop a spirit of bitterness.  It becomes an entirely polluted way of looking at life through chronically negative perspectives.  We oftentimes develop a resentment “bank.”  As we overly help others, we simultaneously experience a sense of victimization. While emphasizing our own acts of service, we continue to build up a bank of resentment that says, “Look at all I’ve done for you.  And you did this to me?”

Some temperaments (especially various blends of the Supine and Sanguine) tend to have a need to be needed.  And they feel satisfaction when helping or pleasing others.  This oftentimes leads to the feeling of being used and under appreciated, which can also lead to a spirit of bitterness.

Acknowledging we have a bitter spirit is the first step toward freedom.  God asks that we release people and situations to Him for judgment.  He only asks that we offer a willingness to forgive others, just as He is willing to forgive us.  Recognize that complete forgiveness can take time.  It is often a process, not merely something we “start doing.”  So, we can’t let the enemy try to condemn us because we haven’t forgiven someone completely or perfectly.  God knows our hearts, and if we sincerely desire to forgive a person; or just the opposite, if we struggle with a bitter spirit, God can meet us right where we are.  However, if we stubbornly refuse to consider forgiveness or to deal with our bitterness, there will be a snowballing of negative effects in our lives and relationships.

God doesn’t force us to forgive people.  We really don’t have to forgive if we choose not to.  But what we can lose is the ability to experience freedom and the supernatural ability to experience our relationship with Jesus in an intimate way.  Unresolved sin and shame stand in the way.  No matter how bad the act was, and no matter how undeserving the person is of our forgiveness, our willingness to forgive a person will truly set us free!

The power of forgivenessA Process for Applying Forgiveness

Talking about forgiving people is one thing.  But facing those sins on an individual basis – and fully connecting with the emotions, the damage, and the consequences – is entirely different.  Most of us inappropriately deal with the way others have hurt us.  We don’t understand the significance or the effects, so we think it will just go away in time.

The purpose of this process is to fully recall and work through each event that occurred that either you hold continued resentment toward or that remains toxic in your life.  Don’t get caught up in the process but recognize that it is more important to evaluate and pray over the violations so you might identity which ones need to be dealt with.  God must be the one who directs the process.  And it must be covered in prayer.

I’ll be going into all of the specifics of this process in my next posting.

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