Uprising, Part 3: Forgiveness

Here’s the final segment from Uprising!

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When you refuse to let go of the past, you lose all hope.  When you walk backwards into the future, you cannot see anything to hope for.  This is one reason why a person who is embittered ultimately cannot be encouraged into a new frame of thinking.  Until he is willing to let go of the past, he is not ready to take hold of the future.

Bitterness will not only rob you of the joy of the present, but will steal from you all the promise of tomorrow.  When we refuse to forgive because we do not want to let those who have hurt us move on to a fresh future, we sacrifice our own future in the process.  Forgiveness is like a breath of fresh air.  You must inhale it and receive it and also exhale it as you give it.  As we grow in gratitude we find ourselves forgiving more quickly and more freely.  Our readiness to forgive will draw others to ourselves in that we will be known as a safe place to fail.  When you are grateful, to not forgive is unthinkable.  How could you even consider holding something against another when you yourself have had so much forgiven?  When you are the worst of all sinners, to withhold forgiveness from another is inconceivable.  Matthew 18:22-35

To receive the grace of God and yet treat others ungraciously is an act of wickedness.  No matter how much we are required to forgive in others, it pales in comparison to what God has forgiven in relationship to us.

The end of 2007 challenged me to really evaluate forgiveness and what it looks like to “forgive.”  One major thing that I needed to remember was that forgiveness does not mean that one has to fully trust the other person again/right away nor does it deny that his/her actions were indeed wrong and hurtful.  In fact, sometimes just saying the words “I forgive you” permitted me to lull myself into a false state where I denied the actions/words and pretended they did not happen so as to avoid pain.  This technique works for a while, but for me whatever happened keeps playing in my head and eventually I twist it into something I did wrong…back to the whole “why me, why not me, what did I do, was I not enough, ect.”  Such a fixation trapped me into a self-made prison and prevented the freedom that the above passage includes.

I find that forgiveness must consists of so much more than just the words.  In the past, I have said the words and then turned around a few days/weeks/months later to find myself holding onto the offense and using it against the person in an argument.  Our hurts are real and should not be taken lightly, yet holding on in a negative way fosters bitterness and resentment.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

“I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin” Acts 8:23

–Christ forgave so much and came so that we might have “abundant life.”  By denying others forgiveness, I trap myself in bitterness and restrict the fullness of life in Christ.  In the same way, I must also see myself as forgiven and forgive myself to find freedom.  Forgiveness and repentance (180 degree turn).

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16

–How radically different would forgiveness look if we each thought of ourselves as “the worst” sinner…

-Katy Rose