I wish to call these days God's school days. Let me share a bit about one of the major subjects I'm currently taking up with professor God.
Elisabeth Elliot once wrote: "Am I speaking to someone who has been abused, abandoned, divorced, cheated, lied about, deceived by a business partner, rejected by your children, your spouse, your parents, the church people? Forgive, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."
Those words seem easy to say, aren't they? But they can be so hard to do. Forgiveness is always a good idea especially when you're telling someone else to do it! But when the time comes for us to forgive, the task seems unbearable.
What are we supposed to do with all those memories? What happens when that instant replay reminds us over and over of how we were mistreated, betrayed, or abused? Is it naive to think that we could really forgive someone when our emotions rage with bitterness?Today I learned three things that I can do in order to forgive one who has done something which you might think is unforgivable.
First, if I'm going to be able to forgive the heavy offender, I would have to fully receive the grace of God. Until I receive grace from God and His forgiveness of me, I will not be in a position to forgive somebody else.
The second thing? I must acknowledge the wrong done. I name it, whatever it is. Name it in the presence of Christ. I need to be truthful and straightforward to Christ.
Number three, I lay down my rights. Forgiveness is the unconditional laying down of the self.
And now, number four? What do I do with that person? Here God is talking to me like a professor with 4 points below.
Point number one is "If that person asks forgiveness, forgive." Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us." In other words, Jesus is saying, "You must give to that other person exactly the measure of grace that you are expecting Me to forgive you for." All of us know that we have sinned against God many more times than we have ever sinned against people.
Point number two? If he or she does not repent, I forgive him or her anyway in a private transaction with God. There's a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. You can forgive without being reconciled.
Number three, I pray for the offending, sinning person who will receive judgment from God.
And point number four, I ask for grace to treat that person according to God's will. I stand with Christ for the other person.