I Assume You Won’t Forgive Me

A friend recently posted a question on her Facebook wall:

ImageGenIf you could choose to have your thoughts blasted to everyone you know for one day, or choose to have their thoughts blasted to you, which would be worse?

As I thought about it, as much as I would NOT want to know everyone’s thoughts, I realized that I’d rather be blasted with everyone else’s than share my own.

The answer may surprise you.  I’m just not convinced ANYONE would forgive me if I thought something unkind.

On the whole, I have noticed this with Christians: they downright stink at forgiveness.

This is the major calling of the church: a definitive way we can show that we belong to Christ and are Christians. We are told by Jesus, “You are My disciples if you love one another.” John 13:35

And what does love look like according to the Bible?  “Keeping no record of wrongs.” 1 x-love-keeps-no-record-of-wrongsCorinthians 13:5

The disciples themselves appeared to have loathed forgiving as well.  “How many times do we have to do this?” they asked Jesus. He gave them a pretty high number in return, meaning, “Keep it up.  You’re called to never stop forgiving.”  (Matthew 18:22)

Why, then, does the church truly stink at this?  Why can I only think of two human beings in my entire life who have not struggled with forgiving completely? Why is it that almost everyone else in my life – everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian bring bitter complaints against other people to me often? I’m no fool.  I know they’re probably doing the same about me behind my back to others – or if they’re not, it’s only a matter of time.  Why are we Christians destroy relationships over and over again due to a lack of forgiveness?  There have definitely been people who refused to forgive me. It’s heart-wrenching.

Whebetter-not-a-bitter-personther it’s the line, “The church hurt me, so I walked away,” all the way down to, “I just can’t stand so-and-so in my Bible study because of something they said to me last year,” it’s never-ending.

Honestly, and this may be hard-hitting (You may not forgive me for this post!), if you find yourself frequently unable to forgive many people in your life, you should evaluate your own salvation.  This is a mark of a Christian BECAUSE the Christian knows what he or she has done to put Christ on the cross.

We have a spiritual blindness to our own sin.  This blindness makes us think that the sins cat-sees-lion-mirrordone to us are somehow so much worse than the ones we did that nailed Christ to the cross.  We think we’re better and would never commit the atrocities that others do, not seeing our own base natures and that we are only where we’re at because of Christ.  We do not see it a PRIVILEGE to forgive, because, in doing so, we accomplish something that an unbeliever cannot fathom.  Forgiveness only happens in God’s grace. Without the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, we would never have the ability to show true grace and mercy.

Forgiveness does NOT mean allowing an evil person control of your life.  It does not mean choosing to ignore a crime and not reporting it to the police.  It does not mean not separating yourself from danger. It also does not mean fully trusting another human being. It may not even mean forgetting.

But it DOES mean, with fellow believers, loving and seeing them as pardoned from that sin, as guilty of it no more because of their standing with Christ, and that it’s something you don’t talk about or dwell on in your mind. It’s not something you share with others, or hold against that person. You make smart decisions to protect yourself and your family, and then you move on mentally and emotionally.  This kind of transformed attitude can only happen by God’s grace, but I think that many believers resist God’s grace in an attempt to arrogantly elevate themselves to a place of judge in others’ lives.

living-as-forgiven-people-posterframeBy refusing to keep up the process of forgiveness, even if you have to forgive over and over again each day, you make yourself just as guilty as your offender.  Choose daily to forgive.  When the thought comes up, give it over to Christ. Choose to never speak to others about it again (unless it’s a Biblical counselor or a spouse). Find things to do to bless that person, even if it’s just to pray for them. Confess your own sins to the Lord and others so that you humbly see yourself properly.

Let’s be an obvious difference in this world and heal our body-of-Christ relationships.  And let’s do it by starting with forgiveness.

SIN: In Pictures

WARNING: This post shows, in pictures and links, the dirty truth about sin.

(Please click on and read the accompanying links, highlighted in pink, on some of the statistics and facts about these sins.)

 

The world and Hollywood tells you that, if you LIE and hold back the truth, your life will look like this:

spoiled child
Everything you could ever want – all of life going your way.

But in reality, liars look like this:

lonely_boy_by_pedrozsa-d33fnup

No one trusts them, no one wants to be with them.  They don’t hold down jobs, they can’t keep friends, and they are alone.

The world and Hollywood tell you that walking around HATING someone, bitterly carrying a grudge, and taking revenge over something that you deserve to be angry about will make you feel like this:

hatred

But in reality, you look like this:

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It leaves you in bondage to the other person, a literal slave of the one you hate so much.

The world and Hollywood tells you that, if you DRINK ALCOHOL you will look like this:

men-ogling-a-woman

But in reality, drunkards look like this:

Cavendish Press - Manchester

This is the real photo of a woman who destroyed her skin, eyes, face, and life because of alcohol.  She also can’t hold down a job or take care of her family.  She is headed for an early death, and she could end up killing someone while out driving drunk in the meantime.

The world and Hollywood tells you that, if you have PREMARITAL SEX you will feel like this:

freedom_of_love_by_astralwind-d36fed9impress-a-guy-love

But in reality, you will probably look like this:

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34% of teenagers end up in an unplanned pregnancy.

The world and Hollywood tells you that GAMBLERS have to strike it rich some time.  Keep trying and you’ll soon succeed.  Think of all the money you could have.

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But in reality, you look like this:

alcoholic_by_artamanpoors
Gambling leaves 1 to 2 million people destitute, while crippling a major portion of the rest of its victims.

The world and Hollywood tells you that ADULTERY and affairs are beautiful things, leaving you to be with the person you love, making your life look like this scene from a popular old movie:

dana-andrews-teresa-wright-best-years-of-our-lives

But in reality, this face could haunt you for the rest of your life:

Emotional-Effects-of-Divorce-Children

The statistics on children, growing up in broken homes, who are incarcerated, in poverty, take drugs, and are academically challenged is staggering.

The world tells you that, if you’re HOMOSEXUAL, your life could look like this:

rexfeatures_550196q_1
But in reality, you could look like this:

index
80% of AIDS is spread through gay men.  This is merely a picture of herpes on the mouth.  You are much more likely to have this in other, much less pleasant places.  These diseases often kill you.

The world and Hollywood says that ABORTING the unwanted child within you leads to freedom that feels like this:

personal-freedom

But in reality, it looks like this:

therapeutic-abortionbaby

A very dead, very real human baby.  And knowing for the rest of your life that you murdered your own child.  I could have found much more hideous pictures about abortion procedures, but looking at them led me to sick, angry tears.  You can click this link at your own risk.

Sin is REAL.

Its consequences are ignored in movies and media.  But God will not be mocked.  What a man reaps, he will sow.  (Galatians 6:7)  God will punish those who disobey Him, but extends love and mercy to those who repent and run to Him to rule over their life instead.