Thursday, April 28, 2016

HOW DOES FORGIVENESS LOOK?

My seeking to draw nearer to God has lead to much soul searching and truth seeking.  It can be a wearying task.  Frankly, I do not always like what I have learned.  I could do a really great job of forgiving if I first had the satisfaction of a well planned revenge, but that is not the way forgiveness works.  I remind myself God's thoughts are not my thoughts and His thoughts always center around my sanctification and His good purpose.  And yet--I still cry out---I CANNOT DO THIS!  Without Him--I truly cannot.




Though I am not Catholic---this image says it so well.  God must surely grow tired of my feeble efforts!

Remember the quote from Gilead,

"To be forgiven is only half the gift.  The other half is that we also can forgive, restore, and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us."

I have been exploring my half of this equation.  I truly believe the author reflected the truth of the full experience of forgiveness.  We are not capable of understanding grace until we extend grace.  Forgiveness is only a loose term thrown around in Christian circles--until we are called to the act of forgiving those who have sinned against us.  THAT can be a bitter pill to swallow.




From my own experience, it is not a one time deal--signed, sealed and delivered with the words, "I forgive you".  It is an on-going process.  Every time my mind wanders back to my pain, my sorrow, my anger, the why's, I have to once again give it back to God and repeat those words of forgiveness.  We are commanded to forgive---before we are forgiven.  NOW THAT--in itself should be all the incentive I need to put it down and leave it behind.  Unfortunately our human character --especially when we have been injured--makes this not quite so simple.




While studying God's mandate of forgiveness and trying to decide if I have crossed that bridge, I went to John Piper---a great theologian and man of God.  His words ring of truth.

What does Forgiveness Look Like?


  1. resisting revenge,
  2. not returning evil for evil,
  3. wishing them well,
  4. grieving at their calamities,
  5. praying for their welfare,
  6. seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you,<---MY HANG UP
  7. and coming to their aid in distress
When I read these over---I swallow hard at #6---HOW can I do that?

What Forgiveness Is Not

      1. Not the Absence of Anger at Sin (Not feeling good about what was bad.)

      2.  Not the Absence of Serious Consequences of Sin 

So I am totally on board---with the reservation noted above---and THEN 

 He deals with forgiveness of an unrepentant person.

I quote him directly--for these words are profound-

"One last important observation remains: forgiveness of an unrepentant person doesn't look the same as forgiveness of a repentant person.  The difference is that when a person who wronged us does not repent with contrition and confession and conversion (turning from sin to righteousness), he cuts off the full work of forgiveness. We can still lay down our ill will; we can hand over our anger to God; we can seek to do him good; but we cannot carry through reconciliation or intimacy."  My answer to my hang up.  




The entirety of this sermon can be found here.  I am thankful it  answered the questions I have rolled over and over.  I am charged with forgiving and doing unto others--but unless there has been contrition and a request for forgiveness--I am not commanded to restore the relationship.  




My confession---this has been a hurdle for my drawing closer to God, for I felt amiss in completing the cycle of forgiveness.    The redemption and restoration process will not be complete, but I have obeyed as required in The Word.  I am thankful for Piper's clear instruction on what forgiveness looks like.  I am praying to reflect God's forgiveness of me as I forgive those who sin against me.  Something tells me ---God has far more to forgive than I could ever need to forgive.

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

8 comments:

  1. I do not think the good Lord gets tired of us sinners, friend...just saying...smiles

    Have a beautiful day--stay safe with all that weather down there. Blessings Lulu.

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    1. No, He delights in us, Linda-feeble efforts and all!

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  2. Wow...a lot of good stuff here, LuLu. You did some digging deep down to the toes. Hope you were breathing till the end, because I can see you passed out on the floor after this one. Great
    great job. "Forgive, restore, liberate"...💐

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    1. It's an on going process, Vannie!
      Blessings, Friend!

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  3. Hey Lulu ... I like what you said about exploring your half of the forgiveness equation. I've found that keeps us pretty busy while God takes care of the rest of the details. It frees us up, allows us to focus on our own heart, and keeps us from the draining efforts of figuring everything else out.

    He's got that.

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    1. Thankful He has us covered , Linda. I can only do what He asks of me- and I am thankful He supplies me with the ability to do that!
      Blessings, Friend!

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  4. Excellent post Lulu. Just excellent.

    I know, Lulu, that you have been hurt very badly in the past; and sometimes, despite our best efforts to forgive, there is always that lingering pain in our hearts which continues to torment us when memories come back, or when we consider our circumstances, for ever changed by that wrong-doing done to us.

    Lulu, I feel for you, and totally understand how you feel. Rather than go on pontificating about forgiveness and love; perhaps I should link you to an article I wrote some time ago. I hope the article, (based on real facts), and especially the comments made by its readers, will help a little. I know they did for me.

    http://timeforreflections.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/god-and-logic-logic-and-god.html

    Praying for you Lulu. God bless you always.

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    1. Ah, my friend, what an intriguing post. I especially enjoyed the comment discussion. I can honestly say, I harbor no hatred. My hurdle has been the lack of reconciliation. Piper was able to finally put that to rest. As your post so well illustrated, we are not God, and His perfect love will never be obtained by an imperfect man. And, yes, we are applying man's definition of love to the dilemma--not God's. Thank you for this comment and God Bless You, Victor!

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Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!