Forgive as the Lord forgave you. ~ Colossians 3:13
This blog series is an exploration or dialogue considering Dan Allender’s video discussion on forgiveness in which he outlines 3 stages (video posted below): 1) Naming the Wound; 2) Remembering God’s Forgiveness toward you; 3) Stepping into the War.
The first element of forgiveness is “canceling the debt that is owed.” As discussed in the first blog, this involves facing the actual nature of the harm done to you (Naming the Wound). You must name your own heartache and your own anger. There is clearly pain involved. The person forgiving is absorbing the debt within themselves- there will be pain and suffering. Forgiveness is a courageous act along every step.
The second element is really an essential prerequisite of the first- it is the idea that *forgiving another is a derivative gift.”~ DA. In other words, you must BE forgiven… and know that it is of a *far greater debt*… in order to forgive another person *of a far lesser debt*.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’
The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt…
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Dan Allender said, “I must see the harm done to me through the reality of what is in my own heart. That there is a *far greater* failure of love pervasively in my life, than what you have done to me.” (paraphrase)
In the story of Isaiah’s call, when he *sees* God and his holiness, he instantaneously falls face down to the floor and calls a *curse* upon himself- “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips.”
Have we been captured by our own uncleanness? … As Dan said, “You have to begin with at least some sense that you are capable of any and all sin…” (Romans 2:1 ~You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.)
Do you know the *anger* and *lust* of your own heart? (lust does not have be sexual in nature, but the idea that “I WILL get what I want”) … How well do you know your own failure of love?… not in generalities, not a nebulous concept… but can you name how you have *used* your own children? The ways you have brought shame into their lives? Your failure of honor and delight in your husband/wife?
It’s only in the backdrop of our own darkness that we can see the glory of Christ… the deeper black we know ourselves to be, the brighter we see Jesus to shine.
“It is not going be a rule or a principle that will get a person to the place where they can forgive.” (other pastor in video clip)
Simply telling someone “you have to forgive so-and-so or you’ll never have freedom in your life” will never be helpful. Please, let’s all embrace that idea… Telling someone they “ought” to feel some way- whether it be forgiveness, or desire, or thankful, or joyful… or to “move on” from their grief and just have more faith… will only produce guilt or resentment… those kind of statements will trigger the cortical brain, which has no power in these matters, except for a thought process of guilt.
Instead the *limbic* brain needs to be engaged… by attachment, which is another word for love… “It is the *kindness* of God that leads you to repentance.” (Romans 2) … “it is His *Love* that constrains us* (2 Corinthians 5:14)… and makes his commandments “not burdensome.”
We will never begin the pathway of forgiveness while we are in a state of self-righteousness… while we are the “Elder brother”… Before we can mirror the welcoming arms of the Father, we must first make the journey from the Elder brother that we naturally are, to be the “Prodigal son”… Only after we *know* the welcoming embrace of forgiveness, and feel it ourselves, can we offer it to another… There is a sense of unity for the prodigal son in the embrace of the Father.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:15
Again, this is not a statement of “Then TRY harder!!” It is an invitation to evaluate your own heart… If you cannot forgive another… then perhaps you have *never* made the journey of the Prodigal Son… or perhaps you need to make the journey again (every Christian needs to each day!). The Prodigal son WILL forgive (a journey of a life-time! 77X7 is an image of infinity)… the Elder brother *cannot*… It’s a matter of identity, not effort.
As I close, I want to emphasize again that forgiveness is not a “one time event” that we *do* and wash our hands … It IS a journey, a struggle… a *WAR*… As American Christians we tend to be so squeamish about “struggle”… We have this false notion that struggle = deficient faith… and “Strong faith”= joyful, peaceful, serene existence (as Kirk Cameron would say, that everyone can see the “Christian” twinkle in your eye!)… Scripture says, that it is the “Good” fight of faith…
*Authentic* faith IS always a Battle.
So please… No shame in the Battle… and please don’t shame your Christian brothers and sisters who are faithfully fighting. Instead, let iron sharpen iron, and we will all have longer, sharper swords!
One thought on “On Forgiveness: Part 2”
Good thoughts, Catherine! The word “wrestle” from your previous post comes to mind. “Struggle” is the other operative word that so clearly describes the process of forgiveness. And yes, true and complete forgiveness has its foundation in the Cross and my own deep need for Christ in light of my own sin.
(Keep on writing!)
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