This week in my teaching series called The Kingdom is Near, I taught on the kingdom attitude of forgiveness. Because I have had so much positive feedback on the teaching, I decided to create a blog using some of my notes from the teaching. We are living in an intense time in our country right now in the midst of elections and other big issues we have been facing. What occurs to me, is that it is time that as the body of Christ, we stand together. This may require forgiveness. We have been divided on church issues, political issues and even denominationally. But our call to be a light to the world is a call that we fulfill together. So if you find yourself in need of forgiveness, or need to forgive someone in the midst of a highly strident time, I am hopeful that this blog post will help you find your way. As for me, it was a very convicting week when I realized that my attitude needed adjusting; that fear had found an open door and that it was time to close that door through forgiveness.
Freedom is Available
This past week a bird was trapped in our house– or at least he thought he was trapped. My husband and I tried everything possible to help him get free, but he kept flying past open doors and windows. We were offering the little wren freedom. but his fear kept him trapped. He kept flying away. This went on for hours. We are like this bird when we are trapped in our attitudes of unforgiveness and judgment. Finally I googled how to get a bird out of our house and I learned that you must turn out all of the lights in the house except the room that you want the bird to go into. In that room, open a window or a door. And voila! It worked! How like this bird we are. Freedom through forgiveness is available to us, but fear keeps us locked inside.
The Love of God is the Power of the Cross
The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tragedy of the cross. Beware of the pleasant view that God forgives because He is love. He is indeed LOVE but it was His LOVE that sent His only son Jesus to the cross and it is LOVE that held Jesus to the cross, and it is by way of the cross alone that we are forgiven. The love of God means Calvary and nothing else.
Our attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ who being in the nature of God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant and being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as man, he HUMBLED Himself and became obedient to death even death on the cross….(Philippians 2:5)
No doubt you have experienced words that have wounded you. You have felt the sting of the words intent on hurting. Maybe you still feel the sting of words from your past, perhaps even from your childhood If you have suffered from words that have wounded, there is more than a bandaid available to you to heal your wound. The work of the cross freely offers us forgiveness and brings healing and restoration. Sometimes we simply need to let someone off the hook, strap on our kingdom lenses, and recognize that the person who hurt us is also wounded.
Entrusting to God The Just Judge
When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He did not shout back; He did not demand an apology. He did to come down from the cross. (I Peter 2:23)
The dialogue directed at Christ that Friday morning as He hung on the cross was intense, full of hatred and scorn. Peter writes that the passers by hurled insults at Him as He hung on the cross. Their attitude was – we’ve broken the body now let’s break the spirit. The criminal on the cross even got in on the act: “ Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”.
Father Forgive Them
Have you ever wondered how Jesus kept from retaliating; how He kept His composure? He did not consider this crowd who were killing him physically as murderers. He considered them as victims. Father forgive them; they know not what they do. (Luke 12:34)
Understanding is the Key
Our anger and unforgiveness, will not change our circumstances. Our anger and unforgiveness will not change the world. Our understanding will. Forgiving requires that we die to our pride and judgment of the other person. It does not mean that they have not wronged you and it doesn’t mean that there will not be consequences. What it does mean is that forgiveness freely given takes you and the other person off the hook for the Lord to deal with. It is not natural. It is supernatural and requires a willingness to understand. I am not minimizing the pain that someone has caused you and perhaps there is no room for reconciliation; only freedom from allowing bitterness and anger from taking root. Here is a check list that might be helpful as you make your way towards freedom:
- See people through God’s eyes; not through anger and hurt or pain.
- Recognize that they are wounded as well
- Check pride and motives
- Be willing to have an attitude of humility
And if this blog spoke to you, consider joining our class on The Kingdom is Near. If not now, you can always start your own small group and do the study anytime. Check out other studies on our website at DrawingneartoGod.com.