Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy International Forgiveness Day!

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.
Matthew 6:12

Today is International Forgiveness Day. I did not know that. How about you? It was started by the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance. Check it out. Can you imagine if everyone forgave each other? Heaven on earth or as close to it as we gonna get.

Today, I was switching back and forth between not writing until next week, and just throwing up a bunch of scripture. Yeah, I know I was half-steppin', erhm, going to phone it in, uh ra, just being real lazy. Since 2007, I have had placed on my heart to write about those tough things: finance, walking correctly and forgiveness.  And have not done them because I knew they would not be received well by those closest to me. But since very few are reading this, I am going to do it for people who stumble on this, and if family, friends, and acquaintances read it and are blessed then thank you Jesus. If they don't, we deal with it when we get to it.

I know there are people who have learned to forgive and have done so, and do it daily. That was not a strength for me. When I first accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, I had a relatively good year afterward. The one who usually got on my nerves, I would calmly say "Bless you in the name of the Lord" and continue what I was doing. Nothing this person said had any effect on me. Fast forward two years, I was ready to choke them.

Throughout the bible, and particularly the new testament, it states we are to forgive, forgive, forgive. Christ said if we forgive others, our Father will forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15). So my forgiving others is wrapped up in receiving God's forgiveness. Ergggh. I know a few of you feel me. But for the longest time, this has been a thorn in my side (sadly, it still is). Before walking in salvation, I believed people should know when they stepped out of line. And sometimes they needed to know loudly. There were people who needed checking, and choking. I could list so many instances, but I won't. At the beginning of having to deal with forgiveness, I was told time and time again, "Vengeance is mine." (Deuteronomy 32:35) That helped and I would calm down slightly. Then as time progressed, I would calm down more. I didn't forget, but I started to be less concerned and to just be. Holding a grudge just wasted energy and was troublesome.

I hear the but, but, buts you are thinking. Jesus told Peter, after he asked how many times he had to forgive his brother, to forgive seventy times seven. People are gonna offend you. There is the old Portuguese proverb: "as desculpas não se pedem, evitam-se" that is "you don't ask for apologies, you avoid them." But a lot of people were not taught this or it never occurs to them they have done something wrong. There are those who just out and out do it to annoy you, but 1) forgive and 2) let go. Psalm 118:8 tells you it's better to trust God than man. God is watching. He knows who is for you and against you. Even if your parents offend you daily, forgive them and trust God. Horrible bosses? Forgive them and trust God. Two-timing boyfriends or girlfriends? Forgive them and trust God. Unsavory co-workers? Forgive them and trust God. Are they gonna do it again? Maybe, probably. You are going to trust God and forgive them. 

Jesus gives you the blueprint and for happiness and the ultimate prize-heaven, you must forgive them. And then you have to take it to the next level--pray for them and ask God to bless them. Yeah, I've grumbled about it, too. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said we must love our enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Doing this make you a child of God's and you know what happens to a child of God. They are blessed, duh.

What it boils down to is if you trust God, then when that friend or relative betrays you, you know that God will handle it. So instead of stressing over it, you pray for them, forgive them, and live your life. Is life going to be happy happy joy joy all the time? No. You are a soldier of God's army, fighting for his kingdom. Happy happy joy joy will come in heaven. Your fight may look like you are up against strangers and members of your own family, but it's not. It's against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV). 

And that should make you mad. And it should make you more than willing to forgive. I mean seriously, how dare they use your child against you? The nerve of these demons in diapers! Want to stick it to them? 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. Treat them like you want to be treated. When you practice eye for an eye, sure, you may feel good for that day or decade, but you never really got back at the source, and all the source did was flicker on to the next person. But when you listen to Christ and follow His blueprint, your enemy will be confounded, confused, befuddled, and worried. 

Before I got it, I always came across Christians (yes, Christians) who thought it was their duty to make life miserable for everyone they worked with. Don't be shocked, you know there's a few. No, they were not right or in order. They just made life miserable. When I talked with them, I learned several things. They went to church every single Sunday, and prayed. But it was lip service and they just prayed for their family. And when one decided to ensnare me, it was on and poppin'. But I began to pause and do just the opposite. I prayed for them and their family. I began to help the ones they would target. I prayed for the departments and the executives. I tried to be the balance and set the atmosphere until I left. And as much as they wanted to take me out, they did not because in their eyes I was on their side. Sneaky much? Yep. Can you do the same? Yes. Will it get easier? Yes and no. 

You will spot things quicker, but sometimes that baby demon becomes a toddler and you just have to up your game because they upped theirs. But you are not alone in this battle. Forgiveness just makes you stronger. And at the end of the day, it will be better in the long run. It's tough now, but it will be better, and don't forget that even in the storm, there are times when it will calm down. The rain will stop and the sun will shine forth.

I will speak more on this on another day. I believe this is a good start. How has forgiving others helped you on your spiritual journey? Is it still tough going? What have you learned that may help others?

Be blessed and encouraged!

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