Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Asking and Giving Forgiveness

 "Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive."
  Luke 17:4

Can we all admit that asking for someone's forgiveness is one of the hardest things in the world to do? It takes humility, and it takes courage. It takes the power of God.  It especially doesn't help when the person you're asking foregiveness from reminds you of your crime and won't let it go.

Someone I was talking to mentioned that she had asked forgiveness from someone. The person basically threw it back in her face and reminded her of her abomination. If you knew my friend, it would break your heart. She is the kindest person on the face of the earth.

I admit, that part of our conversation stuck with me for the rest of the day. It bothered me. It bothered me as much as if I was the one asking for forgiveness. It made me think that it's no wonder why people don't ask more often for forgiveness. When someone asks for forgiveness they are laying their heart out. Making themselves vulnerable. It is our choice to forgive as we have been forgiven by God. Each and every day.

Is it maturity? Could be. Whether it's mental or spiritual maturity, some prefer to dig their heels in and be right. They will stand their ground and when it's all said and done who wins? No one.

After I had just graduated high school I had my first love, of course I was head over heels. He was the be all and end all. Shocker. It didn't work out after a couple of years*. But when it didn't work out and he was dating a "friend" I'll admit that my behavior was atrocious. It was shameful. It was definitely something I wish I could take back. I didn't have the mental maturity or the spiritual maturity to handle the situation.

After several years had passed I put a note in the mail to them both. I wanted to apologize for my actions. I wanted to clear my conscience and fir them to know that I was truly sorry. I wanted to let go of the guilt once and for all.  When I received a note back from the girl, she asked what my intentions were. What was my motive? Then she reminded me of what I had done and how I hurt them both**. I was well aware of what I had done. But I was not alone in this stupid little triangle. But I asked for what God gives me everyday. Forgiveness. 

The weight of sin is so heavy only the shedding of Jesus' blood can atone for it.

When we sin against someone who has no relationship with Christ, it's as if Satan himself is steering the other person in not letting go. It's a self-focused, resentful way of living. I'm not sure it's really living at all. Jesus is the best friend we could ask for. If you don't have a relationship with Him, seek Him out and there will lie your hope and salvation.

Ephesians 4:31

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

In the world of raising kids, there is a lot of saying, "I'm sorry". Whether it's between the siblings or from parent to child and vice versa. I'm not a fan of saying, "That's okay" after someone says, "I'm sorry". I know we should forgive seventy times seven, but I also want to promote a sense of appreciation for the act of asking forgiveness.  I encourage my kids to say, "Thank you" to one another after they have had to apologize to each other. 

 Some people are ready and willing to forgive. I said some. When some people accuse you of doing something, then they do the same thing shouldn't both parties be asking forgiveness? Not just one? That's when I have to call to mind, Matthew 6:14. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you". 

Forgiveness is the greatest gift.  Whether we feel forgiveness in our hearts or not, we are under obligation to obey God. As we obey God, He will supply the feelings.

Asking and giving forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do in this world. Thank you, God, that this world is not eternal.

God, I pray for the vulnerability to always ask for forgiveness when I need it. I pray that it is received with an open and pure heart as it is intended. And when someone asks for my forgiveness that You will supply the feeling of acceptance and that I will not let anger stand in the way.

*No harm no foul. We kiss a lot of frogs before the prince comes along, don't we? My prayers were answered when Hubby and I finally crossed paths. 
**Oh please, it was nothing physical. They got married, then she cheated on him and divorced him.

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