Monday, July 21, 2008

Resentment and Forgiveness - Part 2 (Transcript)


We talked last time, in Part 1, about how resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. We talked about how toxic unforgiveness is to our bodies, as well as our souls.

Then we looked at a few verses of Scripture which gave us some instruction and some wisdom on forgiveness, forgiving one another, and not holding resentment against others.

OK, now let’s talk about what forgiveness actually is. How can we identify forgiveness, so that we aren’t harboring some unforgiveness or resentment under the surface that will spring up at any old time, or even worse, that will become a root of bitterness, not easily dug out? How do we know if we are really forgiving someone?


We’ll answer that today, but first let’s switch gears, and talk about another subject which may seem unrelated, but is VERY related to forgiveness. It’s SO related to forgiveness, it’s like wet is to water; like dry is to desert; like Abraham Lincoln’s picture on one side of a penny, and the Lincoln Memorial on the other side.

Love and Forgiveness

The subject I’m talking about is Love. And of course there are different kinds of love.

That Loving Feeling

There’s the affectionate kind of love, that anyone may have for another person that they are bonded to, such as a mother and child, or two long-time friends, or a couple getting married who we say are “in love”.

Now that’s a wonderful kind of love. That’s the kind of love that someone was talking about when they said that “Love makes the world go around.” It’s built into most people, and we could say like the old song says, “Everybody loves somebody sometime.”

It’s wonderful. But it also has a couple of problems.

And part of the reason it has a couple of problems is that it is based pretty much on feelings. Nothing wrong with that. Feelings are something God has built into us humans, so much so that if someone for some reason doesn’t seem to HAVE feelings, the psychologists diagnose them with some kind of so-called illness.

So this love which is a feeling is wonderful, but because it is based so much on feelings, it has a couple of problems.

First, it may not last. Now sometimes it does. Many parents keep their affectionate love for their children all their lives, and many husbands and wives grow old still feeling affection for their spouse.

But sometimes it doesn’t last, and the reason is, something has interfered with the good feelings. Maybe one person betrayed the other, or maybe they hurt them in some way, over and over, or maybe they rejected them, or slandered them, or left them, or physically abused them, or just ignored them.

Or maybe they just came across someone who gave them BETTER feelings, and so they stopped loving the one whom they loved before. Whatever happened, it knocked the legs of good feeling out from under the chair of love, and the chair crashed to the floor.

That’s the kind of love that most people talk about when they talk about love. That’s the kind of love that Hallmark and Soap Operas, and 20th Century Fox are usually talking about.

A Higher Love

But there is a higher kind of love than that. I’m not saying it’s better, exactly. And I’m certainly not saying that it necessarily FEELS better all the time. But it’s a higher kind of love, because it’s the kind of love that God has for His children.

And because it’s the kind of love God has for His children, He can put that kind of love into His children, so that they too can have that kind of love for God, and for other people.

Let me say that again: because it’s the kind of love God has for His children, He can put that kind of love into His children, so that they too can have that kind of love for God, and for other people.

And He does that through His Holy Spirit, and that’s why Galatians 5 says that Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s a fruit that is automatically produced in us when we are filled with His Spirit, when we walk by the Spirit, or walk according to the Spirit.

And when we do that, and when we have that God kind of love, it will have certain characteristics, which we see in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. You probably know these. Even Hallmark knows these, though they may not know what they mean. Here they are:

“Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own, is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.


Now an important thing about this kind of love is that it has these characteristics NO MATTER WHAT. In other words, it’s what we call UNCONDITIONAL.

It’s not conditional on what the other person does. It’s not conditional on how we may feel, or what wrong may have been committed to us, or who the person is, or whether the person is our family member or whether they are evil or good, Christian or non-Christian, friend or enemy.

Yes, we can even love our enemies, because this God kind of love is a fruit, produced in us by the Holy Spirit. And all we have to do is walk in that Spirit, and we will have that kind of love produced in us.

That’s why the Bible says that "Love Never Fails".

That God kind of love never fails. And that’s why God will never leave us or forsake us. Because He loves us with that kind of love that never fails. Never.

And we can love others with that kind of love. Love that never fails.

And may I say this? With love that FORGIVES.

Forgiveness Defined

Which brings us to our subject. Remember our subject? We are talking about resentment and forgiveness. And now we can clarify what forgiveness really means. Because forgiveness is the other side of the coin of love, this God kind of unconditional love.

And with that in mind, let me take a stab at a definition of forgiveness, as the Bible presents it, and as God desires us to practice it. The kind of forgiveness that is not based on feelings, but on the fruit of the Spirit, which is love.

I’m not saying this is a perfect definition, but we don’t forgive by definition anyway, we forgive by love, so cut me some slack and let this definition sink in a little, and I think you will profit from it. Here’s the definition of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness is not holding something against someone as regards your unconditional love for them.”

And we might define Love like this:

“Love is truly, by the Holy Spirit, desiring the best for the one loved.”

This means that when you forgive someone, you no longer hold their sin against them by withholding your love for them, that is, you still desire the best for them, in your heart. You still love them, with the love described in 1 Cor. 13.

Now there’s a lot packed into that little definition.

To use an extreme example, if someone physically abuses you repeatedly, do you continue to let them into your presence and just “put up with it”? Of course not. You take steps of wisdom to prevent that. But you still love them. You still desire in your heart the very best for them. That’s love.

When you forgive someone, you still love them, unconditionally. And love, as 1 Cor. 13 says, “does not take into account a wrong suffered”. It forgives. Forgiveness is merely the other side of the coin of love.

How do we know when we are NOT forgiving someone, maybe even growing a root of bitterness? When we are not acting and thinking in love toward them. When we’re not patient and kind. When we are arrogant, when we are selfish, and so on.

Which is why we need to stay in close fellowship with Jesus. He is our life. When we commune with Him, these things tend to take care of themselves. He is in you, friend, if you are a Christian. Draw near to Him. After all, He's already there.

In another message we’ll look at what forgiveness LOOKS like, and what unforgiveness looks like, and how to forgive, and what hinders forgiveness.

Until then, spend some time with Jesus. Fellowship with Him in some sort of quiet time, and throughout the day as best you can. Walk in the Spirit, and you will see changes in how you love and forgive.

Part 1
Part 3

8 comments:

Mark D. Vilen said...

That pretty much answers my question from the first installment, Terry.

Thanks,
Mark

Lin said...

"To use an extreme example, if someone physically abuses you repeatedly, do you continue to let them into your presence and just “put up with it”? Of course not. You take steps of wisdom to prevent that. But you still love them. You still desire in your heart the very best for them. That’s love."

So basically, forgiveness in love does not necessarily mean reconciliation or fellowship. If the abuser is unrepentent it would be unwise to forgive and move back in because you 'forgave' them. Even if they say they are repentent, would it be wise to give it some time to make sure?

I think people really confuse forgiveness and think it means you don't expect the pedophile to go to jail because he said sorry and repented. I have witnessed this in a church where the victim's family was called hateful and unforgiving because the family pressed charges even though the predator said he repented and asked their forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

God doesn't love everybody so why are we commanded to love everybody?

Anonymous said...

"To use an extreme example, if someone physically abuses you repeatedly, do you continue to let them into your presence and just “put up with it”?

Lin...we are called to be peace makers NOT peace keepers. You should never be abused repeatedly. After the first time the abuser should be in jail!
Peace keepers allow this to continue and that is not biblical!

Terry Rayburn said...

Mark,

That's good. Sorry I didn't respond sooner.

Blessings,
Terry

Terry Rayburn said...

Lin,

I agree that forgiveness in love does not necessarily mean reconciliation or fellowship.

Wisdom has to come into play, as you've [wisely] shown in your examples, but it's never wisdom to hold resentment or withhold love in the heart and mind.

Thanks,
Terry

Terry Rayburn said...

Anonymous,

I disagree that God doesn't love everybody. I think Scripture teaches that He does love everybody.

That's a fairly long subject, but when God tells us to love even our enemies, He says that this makes us "sons of your Father who is in heaven".

In other words, when we love our enemies, we are being like the Father.

Here's the passage:

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matt. 5:44,45)

Of course, God loves His his children, with what the theologiians call a "salvific" or "saving" love that is on a higher level than the universal love He has for all men.

But that's not problematic to me, since we typically love our families more than we love someone else's family, for example.

But we still are to love everyone, even our enemies.

I'm well aware of the view of some Reformed folks (A.W. Pink being one) who interprets John 3:16 as "God so loved the world of His elect ones", but I've never thought that view held any water.

It comes from a defective logic that says since God "hates" or "stores up wrath" for the wicked, that He must not love them.

But that is unbiblical human reasoning.

His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are greater than ours, and we need to accept the Scripture which I believe clearly says that both His "hatred" and His "love" may exist toward the same individual.

That's why God says He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).

Of course, only His love exists toward His children, for whom He has no hatred or wrath.

Hope that helps, and thanks for writing.

Terry

Terry Rayburn said...

Anonymous #2,

You sound like you are disagreeing with Lin, but I believe you are both saying the same [correct] thing.

In any case, justice and jail etc., while right and necessary in these cases, still doesn't mean that we don't forgive the abuser in our hearts, and love them, and give up any resentment toward them, even while we allow justice to rightly be carried out.

Thanks,
Terry