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Can I Forgive?
We are all hurt individuals in some way.
We regurgitate our hurts to our friends or strangers.
We imprison ourselves with our hurts by harboring grudges and resentment.
Some of us have been hurt by:
· bosses who intimidated us
· teachers who called us stupid
· parents who abused us emotionally or physically
· spouses who abused us
· older children who bullied us
· merchants who cheated us
· friends who proved to be false
· enemies who would give no quarters
· self abused with addiction or alcoholism
What this means is that we live in a world of hurts: hardly a day passes without news of abuse, addiction, alcoholism, or broken marriages, ill health, cases of cruelty or desertion, death, disease, divorce or depression.
So, when someone does something against us, our immediate and natural response is one of hurt, anger, or resentment or bitterness, or harboring grudges or fear or sadness or revenge.
What others do to us, we often have very little control of. But we have much control in our responses to the hurt they inflict on us. Yes, we can concentrate on our responses to try to ensure that we are on top of the unhappy situation. Yet, we find that we are so human and that we often succumb to our emotions of anger or revenge or hurt. We imprison ourselves with our hurts. Is there a way that we can set ourselves free from this prison of our own making?
Yes, there is one possible way to free ourselves:
1. TAKE our RESPONSE and go to our Heavenly Father and say,
a. Father, I am very angry with her for doing this to me. Talk to our Heavenly Father as though we are talking to our friends BUT with one difference. Admit that: I know this anger is not doing me any good, it is wrong and it is a sin. [This is confessing my sins]
b. Sincerely say, God I am sorry for my anger.
[This is repenting of my sins]
c. Please forgive me.
d. Please help me to forgive her for her offence towards me. [Only God can forgive her sin, which she has to account with God but I can forgive her offence toward me.]
e. I receive Your forgiveness based on Your Word: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
Say this out loud and say it as the memory of some incident comes to our mind. Then:
2. ACCEPT His forgiveness with faith: “When He saw their faith, He said to him, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you’" (Luke 5:20 NKJV). [This is my faith in acceptance]
3. MAKE A LIST of the grievances and go through this prayer over each incident. Then:
4. TEAR up the grievances.
God Himself will begin to act on my behalf and hers. On my own I cannot forgive her. But, I need to forgive her and she needs to forgive me also. So, with the knowledge that, “God has poured out His love into our hearts” (Romans 5:5 TEV) and with His love in our heart, He will enable us to forgive. We will succeed in one instance and fail in another. But we continue to practice this way with faith. Ultimately, we know that His love is always stronger than our anger or hurt or bitterness.
All the passages below are taken from Corrie Ten Boom’s book “Oh How He Loves You,” published in 1977.
One day I visited an old friend in a hospital. When I entered her room, I saw that she was very ill, but also that there was an expression of bitterness on her face. We had many things to talk about, for we had not seen each other for a long time. Then she told me about her husband.
"I know that I will be ill for a long time. The doctor does not give me any hope that I can do my work for a long time to come. My husband did not like having a sick wife. He left me and now lives with a younger woman. He never comes to see me."
"Have you forgiven him?"
"No, I certainly have not!"
"I will tell you something of my own experiences, when I felt bitter about someone. It was in Germany. One day I saw a lady in a meeting who did not look into my eyes. Suddenly I recognized her. She was a nurse who had been very cruel to my dying sister when we were in Ravensbruck concentration camp during the war. When I saw her, a feeling of bitterness, almost hatred, came into my heart. How my dying sister had suffered because of her! The moment I felt that hatred in my heart, I knew that I myself had no forgiveness. It was the Lord Jesus who said to us, `If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses' (Matthew 6:15 KJV).
"I knew I had to forgive her, but I could not. Then I had a good talk with the Lord about it when I was at home later. `Lord, you know I cannot forgive her. My sister suffered too much because of her cruelties. I know, Lord, that I must forgive, but I cannot.' Then the Lord gave me, `The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us' (Romans 5:5 KJV).
"The Lord taught me a prayer: `Thank You, Lord, for Romans 5:5. Thank You, Jesus, that You brought into my heart God's love by the Holy Spirit who is given to me. Thank You, Father, that Your love in me is stronger than my hatred and bitterness.' The same moment I knew I could forgive.
"I told a friend about my experience and she said, `Oh, I know that nurse. She works in a hospital not far from here.'
"`Can you call her?'
"`Sure I can.' She called the nurse, and I had a talk with her over the telephone, telling her that when I had the next meeting that evening, I would have a different message and would very much like her to come.
"Her answer was, `You would like to see me in your meeting?'
"`Yes, that is why I phoned. I should like it very much.'
"`Then I will come.' She did come, and during the entire evening she looked into my eyes while I spoke. After the meeting, I had a talk with her. I told her that I had been bitter, but that God's Holy Spirit in me had brought His love instead of hatred and that now I loved her. I told her that it was through Jesus Christ who bore our sins on the cross. He forgave us, but He also fills our hearts with God's love through the Holy Spirit, and that is why I could invite her to come to the second meeting.
"I told her more, and at the end of our talk that nurse accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. Do you see the miracle? I, who had hated her, was used by God to bring her to the acceptance of Jesus Christ. Not only will the Lord cleanse us by His blood, but He will also use us. He used me, who hated her, and God had so absolutely forgiven and cleansed me that He could use me to show her the way of salvation!
"You are bitter about your husband, but claim Romans 5:5. I know that you love the Lord Jesus. You have known Him for a long time. Trust Him to do the miracle of bringing into your heart so much of God's love that you can forgive your husband!" I prayed with her and left.
A week later I was once more in her room. When I saw her, I knew that God had done something in her heart. "I am absolutely free. The Lord has done in me such a tremendous miracle that I could forgive my husband. You know, now there is a great peace and joy in me."
Yes, we never touch the ocean of God's love so much as when we love our enemies. It is a joy to accept forgiveness, but it is almost a greater joy to give forgiveness. [26-29]
“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5 KJV)
"for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us." (Romans 5:5 TEV)
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