Wednesday, 24 April 2019
Forgiveness is Costly
Our thesis over this journey through Lent has been “God’s forgiveness forges the way to soul healing.” One conviction that stands alongside this thesis is that forgiveness is costly. One of Jesus most famous stories on forgiveness comes in Mathew 18. There a king is owed a debt by a debtor. The debt is an astounding number compared maybe to the national debt of the United States (ok maybe not that big but it is an exaggerated number that Jesus gives). The debtor of course cannot pay this insurmountable debt back to the King. He begs for mercy and for more time. The King, showing his character, grants mercy. He cancels the debt. The word used for cancel is the same word that is normally translated as forgive in the New Testament. That man’s debt chains were then released. It’s a beautiful picture.
Yet it is also a costly picture. That insurmountable debt was actually paid for. It was paid for by the King. The King who was moved to mercy acted on behalf of the debtor. What an incredible image of the Gospel and what God did for us! The King of Kings was moved by our sin chains. It cost God – it cost God His son Jesus. Jesus willingly laid down His life on the cross, nailing our debt to the cross. Let that cost linger for a bit.
You would think that experiencing the mercy of the King and seeing the cost it took to pay the debtor’s debt would now move the freed debtor into gratitude that would spill over to mercy for the world around him. That’s not the story Jesus tells though. The story Jesus tells is that someone else owed our debtor a measly sum compared to the insurmountable debt he owed the King. The man who owed the measly sum (a Starbucks coffee – expensive but not insurmountable) asked for the same response as our debtor asked the King – mercy. Instead, our debtor gave out judgment. After all this is money we are talking about and he owes me! Word of this reaches the King, and the King is outraged. Had this debtor not been grateful? Couldn’t this debtor pass on mercy? Didn’t this debtor see what forgiveness had cost the King? No, the debtor only thought about what canceling the debt would cost himself. In the end, it turned out to be more costly to not forgive, as the King sent our debtor away to judgment. Forgiveness is costly, but it is more costly not to forgive. So search your soul. Remember the cost of Christ’s forgiveness. Is there someone who you need to forgive? What will it cost you?
Posted on 04/24/2019 2:16 PM by Dr. Ray Miller
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
Forgiveness is a Process Part 2
Last week, we started to outline the process of forgiveness. Remember, God’s forgiveness forges the path to soul healing. Forgiveness is costly. Forgiveness is not a one-time event, but an embodied lifestyle that is formed by habits. And finally, forgiveness is a process. Sometimes it is a fast process. Sometimes forgiveness and healing take years. So far in our process of forgiveness we have:
- Acknowledge the hurt. This is the facts of what happened to you. You are naming your pain.
- Lament over your hurt. This is the follow question to naming the pain – what did that pain do to your soul, your mind, and/or your body? How did that event fracture your relationships?
Now we come to the next stage in the process of forgiveness: Search for your wrongdoing. Did I cause harm to this person? Is there anything that I need to be forgiven for in our relationship? This step requires humility and prevents you from becoming a victim only. Part of living forgiveness is understanding that there are actions that I need to be forgiven for.
Next is to release the person/hurt to God. The New Testament word often translated forgiveness can be easily translated “let it go.” Let it go where? Let it go to the Lord, who in His mercy forgave you. Under the cross all humans stand together as sinners in need of a savior. God views us all the same. Or as the King James so bluntly puts it “God is no respecter of persons.”
Finally, pray or will the good for that person. Robert Benson tells the story of praying for his ex-wife after his divorce. He always would imagine the person he was praying for in his mind. When his ex-wife popped into his mind, he would have a physical reaction of anger in his chest. Over time though, the anger began to subside, until one day he noticed that when he prayed for her, there was no anger, but only a feeling of love (not romantic love) that wanted to see the best for her. That’s the moment he knew he had forgiven her. Just to recap the process of forgiveness looks like:
- Acknowledge the hurt.
- Lament over your hurt.
- Search for your wrongdoing.
- Release the person/hurt to God.
- Pray or will the good for that person.
Praying for your journey of forgiveness
Posted on 04/16/2019 3:39 PM by Dr. Ray Miller
Tuesday, 9 April 2019
Forgiveness is a Process Part 1
Have you ever experienced the paradox of wanting to forgive someone but still getting mad every time you think about them and what they did to you? Maybe you see yourself as a forgiving person except for that one person back in high school who was awful to you. Or maybe it was that ex-spouse who claimed to love you but betrayed you. What do you do with that pain?
We have repeated over and over that God’s forgiveness forges the path to soul healing. Part of that soul healing is of course receiving the gift of forgiveness from God. That gift aligns your soul up with who God created you to be. The New Testament calls this act Grace. God’s Grace is never meant to be kept for you yourself. It is to spill out of you into the world. That is often done through the forgiveness of the people who have wounded you, sinned against you, and injured you. However, forgiveness is not just a one-time event within human relationships. Forgiveness is an embodied lifestyle, formed by the habits of forgiveness.
If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, be encouraged. Forgiveness does not happen overnight. For human beings, forgiveness is a process. The first step of that process is the acknowledgement of the hurt itself. What happened to you? How did someone harm you? How did you harm yourself or sin against yourself (the hardest people to forgive are often our own selves)? After acknowledging the hurt, the next step would then be to lament over that hurt. What did that event do to your soul, mind, or body? The Psalms are full of laments, and many of them deal with “enemies” triumphing or gloating over the writer. What is the writer doing when he writes these? The writer is bringing this concern to God! That’s the most appropriate place to go when another human harms us and has caused soul pain. Next blog we will continue the process of forgiveness.
Posted on 04/09/2019 1:49 PM by Dr. Ray Miller
Monday, 1 April 2019
Forgiveness is a Habit Part 2
Confession is good for the soul, but bad for the reputation. My Dad used to say that as a one-liner to introduce some type of vulnerable moment from his life. Confession is also a habit that is required to live the forgiven life. Confession to God, the forgiver of our sins is of course of utmost importance. Israel’s greatest King, David, after his affair and covered-up murder, writes in Psalm 51, “I know my transgression and my sin is always before me. Against You and You only have I sinned.” David had obviously sinned with Bathsheeba (and a pretty good argument about sinning against her as well), and sinned against Uriah. However, it is God who is able to restore, forgive, and reconcile. I John tells us that if we “confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
At the same time, it is incredibly important for us to find someone on earth to confess our sins to. If we are not fully known, if our sins are not exposed to the light of day, then darkness and hiddenness will reign in our souls. That creates an ecosystem where sin will crouch at our door and be ready to pounce when we least expect it. Sin demands to have a person by him or herself. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him or her, and the more deeply he or she becomes involved in it. Sin wants to remain unknown. This is again from 1 John – “If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth” (1 John 1:6). James, the half-brother of Jesus, reminds us to “Confess to one another our sins” (James 5:16). Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes about confession in his classic work Life Together. Bonhoeffer writes, “A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has been brought into the light.” Let’s not hide in the dark. Let’s build the good habits of the life of forgiveness together. Find someone who can truly know you, and who can stand and say “You are forgiven!”
Posted on 04/01/2019 2:18 PM by Dr. Ray Miller