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Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

What does forgiveness cost? What is the currency that’s expended in trade for the words, “I forgive you?” The coin of the realm we must relinquish is legal tender backed by the things we hold dearest: our pride, our patience, our time… To forgive costs us our pride. It costs us the right to be the one who is right. It costs us our patience and our time, because to forgive means to step down from our hard won high place and stand on level ground where we might have to give again, might have to sacrifice again, and might even have to bare the indignation of being wronged again.

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Mending and healing are two different things, I’m learning.  Mending means the stitches hold, the pain gradually lessens, the energy slowly returns.  Mending seems to be inextricably releated to time.  You can’t rush mending.

I have a feeling that healing is something different.  Healing, I think, is more connected to re-creating than rebuilding.

I’m working on mending right now, but I’m craving healing, in oh-so-many ways.   Time makes a poor thread for binding deep wounds, and the healing that comes with “give it time” is such a poor replacement for the healing balm of gospel restoration.

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Nobody is free who is unforgiven. ~ John Stott

Forgiveness is the only way to break the cycle of blame–and pain–in a relationship…It does not settle all questions of blame and justice and fairness…But it does allow relationships to start over. In that way, said Solzhenitsyn, we differ from all animals. It is not our capacity to think that makes us different, but our capacity to repent, and to forgive. ~Philip Yancey

If I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do.” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love. ~Amy Carmichael

But forgiveness is not an emotion… Forgiveness is an act of will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ~Corrie Ten Boom

Those who say they will forgive but can’t forget, simply bury the hatchet but leave the handle out for immediate use. ~Dwight L Moody

The practice of comprehensive forgiveness overcomes our love of being right, our actual enjoyment and treasuring of our sense of being wronged…  The constant practice of forgiveness leaves no room for self-righteousness.  Frustrated condemnation of others and treasuring of old wrongs are not part of the artillery of God, but the slithering, slimy, deadly creatures of the Prince of Darkness. ~C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani

We take God’s forgiveness for granted (when) we stubbornly withhold our forgiveness from others.  In effect, we behave as though others’ sins against us are more serious than our sins against God. ~Ken Sande

The person who is living by grace sees this vast contrast between his own sins against God and the offenses of others against him.  He forgives others because he himself has been so graciously forgiven.  He realizes that, by receiving God’s forgiveness through Christ, he has forfeited the right to be offended when others hurt him. ~Jerry Bridges.

The ability to forgive is one of the surest signs of having been forgiven.  It is part of the proof that we have received God’s grace…  Those who are truly forgiven, truly forgive.  The sins they commit are of greater importance to them than the sins they suffer. ~ Philip Graham Ryken

Forgiveness may be described as a decision to make four promises:

“I will not dwell on this incident.”

“I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”

“I will not talk to others about this incident.”

“I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”

~ Ken Sande

Next week’s Ten For Tuesday: On Reconciliation

Last week’s Ten For Tuesday: On Repentance

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The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness. –William Blake

I went back and read Micah 6:8 this morning, because “justice” and “mercy” keep coming up in my internal and external conversations. Despite having sung that verse to a campy little tune all my life, and despite hearing countless sermons on that verse over the years, I confess I often have a mistaken version of it rolling around in my head.

What I think I want that verse to say, is something along the lines of “He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to seek justice and love mercy…”

But of course, it doesn’t.

I can’t parse the Hebrew to know what the best translation of those words really is. The best I can do is use Bible Gateway to compare standard translations and learn this: none of them talk about seeking justice. The part about “justice” is all about my actions…

“to act justly” (NIV)

“to do justice” (NASB, ESV)

“to do what is right” (NLT)

“to do justly” (KJV, NKJV)

Now, I have to beg cultural influence here, as a bit of a defense for my poor internal exegesis. “Justice and mercy” get thrown around in a pairing to suit every need, particularly by those wanting to draw our attention to the social implications of the gospel. But most of the time, when you hear those words paired, the subtle implication is that we should be fighting to get other people to act justly, and focused on showing mercy ourselves.

But Micah 6:8 calls US to act justly.

Now I admit: I’m a product of my surroundings. I’ve been living in a small Presbyterian world of graded church courts and layers of accountability and circles of authority and hey! I think all those things are a great and biblical model of church government. Except that they’re made up, at each level, by a bunch of sinners. The checks and balances don’t always work. In other words, pushing for “justice” where there has been conflict doesn’t always bring satisfaction.

I’m also a big fan of Ken Sande’s Peacemaker book. In fact, I’d be quite happy if we could all just get together and open a vein and sign a contract promising to apply the peacemaker principles at every turn (since I think they’re simply careful applications of biblical principles.) But again, the process is broken: it takes two to tango, in all the best and worst senses. Darn sin! It messes up everything!

So, in the midst of ongoing unresolved conflict, I need to read Micah 6:8 again. When everything in me wants that verse to confirm my craving for justice, I’m instead reminded that I must act justly. I must continue to repent, wait, pray…. Micah 6:8 isn’t a battle cry for judicial action, it’s a bucket of cold water, thrown in love, on even our valid cries that we’re being treated unjustly ourselves.

To DO what is right, and to love mercy… I want to GET what is right and then make myself look all the better by showing forgiveness and mercy. Whew! How’s that for a stinkin’ bunch of heart idols: I want to eat my cake and be called generous for giving some away after I’m stuffed.

To act justly: keep doing the right thing.

To love mercy: can I learn to love mercy so much that I can really give it where it isn’t deserved or even asked for? (Since that’s ultimately the type of mercy we’re shown through Christ?)

Micah 6:8 is hard. I’m not going to sing it to that campy little tune any more.

Before you can ever make a clean and unamended confession of your sin, you have to first begin by confessing your righteousness. It’s not just your sin that separates you from God; your righteousness does as well. Because, when you are convinced you are righteous, you don’t seek the forgiving, rescuing, and restoring mercy that can be found only in Jesus Christ”

– Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 22. (ht: Of First Importance)

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