Monday, January 28, 2013

forgiveness: why you can't fake it 'til you make it

I noticed something in my quiet time this morning- I randomly read a parable in my one-year Bible that I've seen a hundred times in my life, but it was fresh this morning like I'd never seen it before. God spoke right to my heart with His Word. {Isn't it crazy when that happens??}

Here's the story:  
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant {Matthew 18:21-35} 
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[a] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[b] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[c] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[d] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[e] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
I know this story- but the moral of it in my mind was do unto others as you have been done unto. Return the forgiveness you've been given. It makes sense. We have been freely forgiven from the major sins we've committed, so we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others.

But how many times have I forgiven FROM MY HEART like it says in verse 35? 

How many times have I replayed the offense in my mind, even after things had been resolved?

Surface forgiveness- the "do" part- going on with the relationship and not talking about it- comes far more easily for me. I can play that part and do what's "right" in my mind. But heart forgiveness- how often is it really going that deep?

How many times do I withhold true heart forgiveness until I see repentance? 

How many times do I hold a grievance in my heart- even though I have no right to, because I've been forgiven by the God of all? How long have I held on to it? For months? For years?


That's not true forgiveness. 

And only my God sees that.

While I can put on a great outward show of moving forward and forgetting about it, God knows when I truly forgive. 

He freely gave His forgiveness, so that we could freely give ours. 

His mercy is new every morning toward us. Our mercy toward others can only be found in Him. You see, because of what Jesus did, we have received the power to forgive like He does.

The crazy thing is that we could never be strong enough to do it on our own. 

I might be able to force my actions to change, but my heart won't do it on command. Only the power of what Jesus did on the cross- defeating my sin, saving me, and giving me His Spirit- gives me the ability to truly forgive from my heart.

Withholding heart forgiveness might hurt our earthly relationships- but more importantly, it affects our relationship with God.

And oddly enough, forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with the person who offended us. It's between us and God. 

What secret hurts are you holding on to? What heart forgiveness have you not given today? 

Ask Him, and He will show you. Then ask Him to forgive you, and give you the power to truly forgive like He does. It's such an incredible mercy He gives us. 

And the best news? His mercy never ends. He won't tire of you, sweet friend. His steadfast love endures forever. He wants us to love Him with all of our hearts, and leave behind all that sin- anger, hate, or bitterness.

Cleanse our hearts, Jesus. Purify our souls, God. Oh, we love you, and want to be made like you- whiter than snow.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:7-10

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