Saturday, March 05, 2016

Behold New Things

By Diane Bayne

“Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“His son said to him ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you: I no longer deserve to be called your son.’  But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Take the fatted calf and slaughter it.  Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” (Luke 22:25)

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
– MT 6:14-15

Of all the questions surrounding the topic of sin, perhaps the thorniest is the issue of forgiveness.  Regarding this issue, Janet Malone, author of Forgive and Remember, comments:

“In the long run, I harm myself most by not forgiving.  To hold on to a hurt or grudge saps my physical, psychological, and spiritual energies, paving the way for a victim identity, and its accompanying negativity, cynicism, passive aggressive stance and spiritual ennui.” 

According to a small, but powerful book, Seventy Times Seven, by Doris Donnelly, certain steps can help us work through the process of forgiveness:

  • Forgive yourself.  We will never be able to receive another’s forgiveness, even God’s, until we do.
  • Acknowledge the hurt, affirm the pain. This step frequently means swallowing pride and admitting that we weren’t as impervious to rudeness, criticism, rejection or neglect as we thought we were. 
  • Try to see the one who hurt you in a new light.  Try to look at him or her as a person not free to love you or, possibly, not free to love anyone because of fear, prejudice, insecurity, or unhealed hurts from the past.
  • Decide to forgive.  Make an act of the will for the spirit to forgive.  When it comes to forgiveness, you need not know how you are going to forgive.  You need not determine a precise strategy or even see its actual possibility.  All you need to do is decide that this is what you will to do.  It helps.  It is a step in the right direction.
  • Gather the testimonies of people who have forgiven and listen to their experiences. Find the stories that say to you, “I was there, I know how tough it is.  I know what you’re going through.  I forgave and so can you.”  This will prove to be invaluable encouragement when your own situation looks hopeless.
  • Pray. The power to forgive comes from a place or person outside ourselves.  When Corrie ten Boom, faced with the former SS man who had guarded the shower room of the concentration camp where she and her sister had been prisoner, prayed to forgive him, she learned that “ is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on Christ’s.  When Jesus tells us to love our enemies he gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

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