FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 6

In this final installment of my blogs on forgiveness I continue looking at some of the misconceptions that people have about forgiveness.

 

4. FORGIVENESS MUST BE FROM THE HEART.  In the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18, our Lord concludes with this note of warning: So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:35).  The  Lord, brethren, wants  us  to  forgive  from our  heart. That’s  an important thing to note because, since God requires us to forgive, it’s easy for us to mutter the words “I forgive” as a matter of duty, obligation, or formality without really meaning it in our heart. This isn’t forgiveness: it’s hypocrisy and a lie. Forgiveness isn’t merely a matter of saying “I forgive.” It’s not just words!

 

Forgiveness is an act whereby you pardon the offender and it’s an attitude of heart whereby you harbor no hatred, resentment, or malice towards the offender. True forgiveness doesn’t harbor resentment. It doesn’t seek punishment or retaliation. Why? Because forgiveness has determined within its own heart that the offender will be pardoned, freed, and forgiven for what he or she has done: there will be no punishments and there will be no remembrances of past wrongs. FORGIVENESS, I’M SAYING, ISN’T FORGIVENESS UNTIL IT’S FROM THE HEART. IN THE VERNACULAR, UNTIL YOU MEAN IT.

 

 5. FORGIVENESS RESULTS IN A REINSTATEMENT TO, OR RESUMPTION OF, FELLOWSHIP.  Sin severs us from communing or fellowshipping with God. It separates us so that fellowship isn’t possible. But when we repent, when God forgives us, He reinstates us to fellowship. The communion is restored and we can fellowship with God once more. You see, FORGIVENESS DOESN’T LEAVE US ALIENATED AND SEPARATED FROM GOD. Sin does that, but forgiveness doesn’t. When God forgives us, He doesn’t leave us alienated from His presence or fellowship. He receives us and restores us.

 

Now as humans, when we’ve been wronged and hurt the tendency is to sever or terminate whatever relationship, friendship, or fellowship we had  with the person who hurt us.  We don’t  want to have anything more to do with that person. This is only natural.

 

But, brethren, is this forgiveness? Is this what God does to us? Is this how He treats us? What good is it to be forgiven by God if we can’t fellowship and commune with God again? Does one sin, even though God has already forgiven it, leave us forever separated and alienated from God? When we get to Heaven as blood-washed, sin-forgiven Christians, will God confine us to a part of Heaven where He can never see us and where we can never come before Him and worship Him? Will the alienation continue into eternity? Absurd, isn’t it?

 

And yet, this is precisely what many of us do when we “forgive” others–especially family, friends, and brethren–but refuse to have anything more to do with them. And the question is, Is this forgiveness? Or is this alienation part of the punishment we’ve meted and part of the resentment we harbor? Brethren, have you forgiven from the heart?

 

Paul says a couple of very interesting things in two passages of Scripture. The first is in 2 Corinthians 2 and it has to do with a case of church discipline involving a brother in the Lord who was involved in fornication. After the man repented of his sin, Paul wrote the church  about what they should do with the now-repentant brother.

 

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. {7} So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. {8} Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. {9} For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. {10} To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; {11} Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:6-11). 

 

Paul  was  telling the church  to forgive  the brother and receive him back into the church. Unforgiveness is a terrible thing and it’s one of Satan’s devices that we mustn’t be ignorant of. UNFORGIVENESS IS OF THE DEVIL. While the Scripture text is speaking about a matter of sin and church discipline, Paul nevertheless states what the church’s responsibility is when an errant member has repented: the brother or sister should be forgiven and restored to the church.

 

This he says in effect in Galatians 6:1, Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Now this word restore means to mend, fix, or repair. Something has been broken, it’s still broken, and to restore it means to put the broken pieces back together again.

 

You see, sin is disruptive to the church. But it’s also disruptive to the erring member. It adversely affects his soul. You think you’re hurting because of what somebody did to you? Brethren, the offending person is hurting even more! I know that’s hard for you to believe, especially when that person doesn’t show any sign of remorse or conviction for what they’ve done to you. But take it on authority of God’s Word, take it by faith: sin hurts the sinner. It always does. They’ve got to answer to God for their actions and until they’ve repented, they’ve got God’s punishment to look forward to. Believe me, they’re hurting.

 

Now when an offender repents, it’s God’s will for the church to take such a one and fix him or her up, make them spiritually healthy and whole again. The church’s responsibility is not merely to say “We forgive.” Our responsibility doesn’t stop there! It’s the church’s duty to receive the repentant offender, to fix him or her, and nurture them back to spiritual health. In a word, we receive, not alienate. We minister, not cut off.

 

Now some offenders choose not to come back to us or to the church. Like I said earlier, some don’t ask for forgiveness, some don’t apologize. But from our point of view, we forgive anyway and we leave the door of communion, fellowship, friendship, or restoration, open to them. Do you remember the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15? He had a father and a home to come back to. Do you know why? Because the father left the door and the home open to him. The father, though hurt by his son’s decisions and actions, did not alienate and disown his son.

 

Brethren, leave the door open to family members, friends, and brethren who have hurt you. FORGIVENESS ISN’T FORGIVENESS IF YOU’RE CUTTING PEOPLE OFF. That’s why you need love. That’s why you need to forgive from the heart. When love is in the heart, the door of friendship is opened and the hands of fellowship are extended. How we need to love! Open your hearts, brethren, and God will give you love. May God bless you richly and give you grace to forgive. 

2 Comments

  1. Nancy Ludden said,

    February 27, 2011 at 7:31 AM

    restore it means to put the broken pieces back together again

    I like this verse so much. My heart aches, when a shunning member is damaged by the ‘healthy saint/saints’. There are always holes in their arguments, as they stand and with great determination attempt to prove that the erring member has ‘gone to the dogs’ and THEY Are in GOOD Standing. If we could only see the heart of the damaged member, we might have more compassion. Too often we are only looking at the outside of a person’s heart. And we really don’t See their Heart of Hearts.

    This has been a good teaching, Gaylord! A bit rough.

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      February 28, 2011 at 12:43 AM

      So true. I’m ashamed to admit I was part of the shunning crowd and never considered the inner turmoil of those I shunned. Thank God for forgiveness and the opportunity to get it right. Jesus ministered life and hope to the hurting and we are blest to do the same.


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