Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ten Ideas To Achieve True Forgiveness By SCOT WALL Updated: 01.26.09 Forgiveness. We recognize that as we begin a new year we have the opportunity to make a fresh start with folks with which we may have had a strained relationship.One of the hardest, thorniest and most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to face people we feel have done us wrong and respond with kindness and forgiveness. We love to read stories about people who have responded to hatred with love. However, when that very thing is demanded of us personally, our default seems to be anger, resentment, depression, righteousness, hatred, etc.God calls on us to forgive, just as He has forgiven us. We know this. But still we hang on to our bitterness. We also know that it is as much an advantage for us to forgive as it is for the person we offer forgiveness to. Study after study shows that one of the keys to a long life is the letting go of past hurts.Let me offer a few thoughts as you contemplate a situation where you may need to offer forgiveness.[adsys_ad::instory]--> 1. Realize that the anger or resentment or whatever you are feeling is not affecting the other person near as much as it is negatively affecting you. In fact, chances are, they may have gone on with their life without giving your situation another thought. 2. Look for the helpers. Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) related that, as a little boy, he would often become upset about major catastrophes in the news. His mother would tell him, "Look for the helpers." In your own difficult experience, think back to the people who helped you through it, who stood by your side. Think about their kindness and unselfishness. Thank God that He used your situation to bring this out in them for you to see. 3. Make a list of all the positive things that have come out of the situation. This may seem impossible at first. But I know that God is always working. Ask Him to give you the eyes to see His hand even in the midst of such a terrible experience. And then thank Him for these things. 4. Seek to truly offer unconditional forgiveness. Regardless if they ever see the wrong that they have committed or if they ever admit they were wrong, you have to be able to offer them something they do not deserve. In fact, that is what forgiveness is. It is recognizing that a debt is owed you in order to make amends because of what someone has done to you. And yet, you forgive them of that debt. They no longer owe you.By releasing people of their debt, you provide an atmosphere where healing takes place more readily. I think this is one of the purposes behind the example the Lord Jesus gave us when asked how to pray. He said, “Forgive us of our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass against us.” 5. No matter how sure you are that the other person meant harm, assume they are a person of good will anyway. Most people do not go out and mean to harm another; no matter what we may think. So assume no ill-intent. 6. Pray for them. Jesus told us to. Why? Because prayer shapes our hearts. By bringing the matter before God, you must humble yourself and recognize this other person who has wronged you is still a creation of His. He cares for the other person as much as He cares for you. 7. Love them. I know this sounds so easy to say. But again, Jesus said to. One day a man in our church stood up to give a testimony of what God had been doing in his life. One thing he recognized is that if Jesus tells us to love our enemies, then He was certainly going to give us enemies to love. Ask God to let you see them with His eyes and give you His love for them. It will not be natural; it will have to be supernatural. 8. Stop telling the story. How many times have you recounted over and over again to others the details of how someone has hurt you. Even if you do not tell a lot of other people, how many times do you tell the story over and over again in your head? It is a stake driven into the ground that keeps you from moving away from this hurt. Rather, forgive the offender and move on. 9. Recognize that you are not alone. If you feel that you have been majorly wronged even though you know in your heart you have done right, remember you are not alone. If it was done to innocent Jesus, then how much more to us? And if they wrong you for doing right, you are in good Company, at least! 10. Trust that you will be vindicated at the bema (Judgment Seat of Christ). There have been times when folks have gotten mad at me and said some terrible things about me mostly because they did not know the facts or misconstrued what actually happened. However, there is comfort in knowing that in the end, all motives and actions will be laid bare and we will be vindicated before Whom it really matters! But we surely do not want the stain of unforgiveness to mar our time before the Lord. Forgive.Wall helped found and is the current pastor of Magnolia Bible Church which currently meets in the West Montgomery County Community Development Center. Scot Wall is my pastor and I appreciate him letting me post his column from the Potpourri.