Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forgiveness: The Path to Freedom

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
—Louis B. Smedes

Sometimes we can find ourselves feeling weighed down by some indefinable “sludge” that seems to keep us feeling “stuck” in various areas of our lives.  When this happens, it is always good to take a spiritual/emotional inventory.  Could we possibly be harboring unforgiveness?
What is forgiveness anyway?
Forgiveness is releasing the bitterness.
§  “Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.”—Nelson Mandela
§  “Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” –Anonymous
§  “to accept the fact that the past can’t change.” Oprah Winfry 
It involves understanding:
§  I’m a sinner too, and God has forgiven me.  I need to agree with God.
§  We all sin out of pain and/or ignorance.  Can you empathize with even a small part of why they did what they did?  Remember, understanding is not excusing.
§  He is able to redeem, the most horrible of circumstances; I am not a victim.
§  Forgiveness comes from God.  He will help us forgive if we ask.
o   Remember:  “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
What forgiveness is not:
It is not always reconciliation.  Sometimes for physical or emotional safety, we need to maintain distance.  Pray about whether a confrontation that might result in reconciliation is appropriate.
§  “It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited.” Louis B. Smedes
Forgiveness is not making the offense ok.
§  “When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.” Louis B. Smedes
Forgiveness does not remove the consequences.  Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to allow a person to experience the consequences of their actions.  Consequences are different from punishment or revenge.
Why forgive?
Forgiveness is essential to our emotional, spiritual and physical health. We cannot be truly free when we harbor unforgiveness.  It will affect or ability to love, live and be happy.
  • “Let all bitterness, …anger…and evil speaking be put away from you…and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32

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