RADICAL FORGIVENESS Sept 21, 2009 15:30:37 GMT -5
Post by tomdurst on Sept 21, 2009 15:30:37 GMT -5
By Thomas E. Durst
By Thomas E. Durst
Matthew 5:43-48 (New King James Version)
Love Your Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Luke 23:34 (Amplified Bible)
34 And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Romans 12:17-21 (New Living Translation)
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
I believe that most of us have barely touched the surface of the power of forgiveness and its transforming power. Are we willing to unconditionally forgive and send thoughts of love to the most obdurate of sinners? Are we willing to pray as Jesus did, "Father forgive those cruel leaders that are inflicting unbelievable suffering upon thousands, the perpetrators of the attack on the World Trade Center, the child molester, my neighbor who constantly annoys me by making noise and being a nuisance, my parent who abused me, etc.?" FORGIVENESS IS NOT A STAMP OF APPROVAL ON THE EVIL BEING DONE anymore than God approves of our sins because he forgives them by His grace. Grace is always given freely because of love, not because we deserve it--far from it! Aren't you thankful for God's forgiving and enabling grace which is freely bestowed upon you everyday? Then simply extend that same grace to others. It's that simple.
Do we want vengeance or healing in our individual lives or in the larger world? The wars that we see going on constantly in the Middle East are a classic example of how vengeance plays out. In order to bring healing and restoration we must follow what Jesus and Paul are teaching which I summarize as follows:
(1) FORGIVE all sins because they are mostly done in ignorance. Satan has blinded the minds of those who haven't surrendered to God so actually they don't know what they are doing. All of us are confused in our thinking because of sin. We tend to see things backwards from the Divine perspective most of the time. The multitudes are blindly following the dictates of their unregenerate natures and have no understanding of what surrender to God means. Thus they are easily led around and deceived by the enemy of souls called the devil or Satan. We may think the wicked do everything with full knowledge of their destructiveness and judge them accordingly and thus we block our ability to forgive. Only God can read the heart and knows what motives actuate sinful behavior. Saul sincerely believed he was doing God's service by persecuting and putting to death early Christians but after God apprehended Him on the Damascus Road and gave him a dramatic revelation of Divine Love he was transformed and became the Apostle Paul. How many people living today could be persecuting God's people while thinking they are doing God a favor? Is there any hope for them as there was for Saul or are they past all hope? This is something to think about.
(2) We must BLESS as well as forgive. We must go the second mile, beyond just forgiveness as understood by most people. Are we willing to BLESS AND PRAY FOR NOT ONLY OUR OWN PERCEIVED PERSONAL ENEMIES BUT ALSO THE ENEMIES OF OUR LARGER WORLD who are perpetrating hell and destruction on the masses? Bombing our enemies only seems to be multiplying hatred and even if the immediate enemies are destroyed the underlying causes behind the warfare are still there and will likely appear in another form and location. We see this played out over and over again like our supposedly winning World War I while clearly planting the seeds which grew into World War II.
(3) We can only CONQUER EVIL BY DOING GOOD. When we repay evil with more evil we increase it rather than overcoming it. Forgiveness, blessing, and doing good are all facets of God's love which is the ONLY real power in the world.
The problem is simply that we mostly don't recognize and give space to the outworking of this love of God. We think we have to bolster things up with human resources and some form of force and in that process we become miserable and cannot make lasting changes for the better.
I believe that God's way of finally overcoming the evil of the world will be such a revelation of His love that it is beyond our wildest imagination to even conceive at this point in our spiritual journey (see 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Through the Holy Spirit we catch small glimpses of this love in our times of reflection but there is an Infinity beyond our present ability to grasp (see 1 Corinthians 8:2 and 13:12).
My prayer is: "Father, open my heart more and more everyday to see the awesome power of Your love and help me to learn how to practice it in my everyday life."
“Forgiveness isn’t approving what happened. It’s choosing to rise above it.”--Robin Sharma
Be sure to read all of the posts on forgiveness on the link below: