Thursday, August 09, 2012
Resentment And Forgiveness - Part 3 of 3
In Part 1 we talked 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.
Then in Part 2 we made an attempt to actually define “forgiveness”, and we said it was sort of the other side of the coin to biblical unconditional love as found in 1 Corinthians 13, for example.
Here's the definition we gave for “forgiveness”:
“Forgiveness is not holding something against someone as regards your unconditional love for them.”
And since it's the other side of the coin to biblical unconditional love, here's how we defined “love”:
“Love is truly, by the Holy Spirit, desiring the best for the one loved.”
So we said 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.
What Do Forgiveness and Unforgiveness Look Like, And What Hinders Forgiveness?
OK, now let’s talk about what forgiveness LOOKS like, and what unforgiveness looks like, and how to forgive, and what hinders forgiveness.
And we’re going to do that backwards, starting with what hinders forgiveness.
Well if forgiveness is the other side of love, that unconditional God kind of love, then the main thing that hinders forgiveness, the one thing that keeps us from forgiving is a lack of love. And since love is a fruit of the spirit, then the main hindrance to forgiveness is what we call walking by the flesh, instead of walking by the Spirit.
A Little Side Road About Anthropology
Now let's take a small side-road and give a reminder of biblical Anthropology. That's the study of Man, what he was like before being born again, and after being born again. When you were born again, you became a new creature or a new creation, it says in 2 Cor. 5:17.
You were given a new spirit, a new nature, and in your new nature you love Jesus and hate sin. And of course the Holy Spirit came to dwell in you, Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). And you became one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17).
Your old nature was killed, crucified with Christ, the Bible says. Gal. 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” And that's the new lifestyle that we want to live, isn't it? We want to live such that Christ is living out His life through us, and that requires walking by the Spirit.
Now, when we are in fellowship with Jesus, in surrender to Him, thinking “Not my will, but yours, Lord”, and being filled with the Word of God, the Bible, we are being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
And you may have heard that by the verb tense of the original Greek, we know that it actually means to “be being filled” with the Spirit. In other words, it’s not a one-time thing, but should be a lifestyle. And so when we are in fellowship with Jesus, and being in surrender to Him and His will, and being filled with the Word of God, we ARE being filled with the Holy Spirit.
How Exactly Do We Forgive?
When this is happening, we will be walking, or living, by the Spirit, and we will have the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, and so forth. But we’re keying in here on love. Because when we are loving, we will be forgiving. We will be casting aside the hindrance to forgiveness, which is lack of love, and we will love and forgive.
Remember, when we're walking by His Spirit, we are also walking by our own new spirit, too, in harmony with God.
So that pretty much also answers the question, How do we forgive, but let’s expand on that a little more.
How do we forgive? Do we just SAY “I forgive you”, or is it like a New Year’s Resolution, “From this day forth, I will forgive so-and-so”? Or is it a change of heart and mind that I just hang around and wait for the Holy Spirit to do for me?
How do we forgive?
First of all, if we are walking by the Spirit as a general lifestyle, we won’t even normally have to ask the question. Forgiving will be as natural as breathing. Forgiveness will flow out of us like carbon dioxide does when we exhale.
But what if we sense that we’re NOT forgiving? What if the very mention of a person riles up our bad intentions toward them? What if we not only don’t desire the best for them, but frankly we’d just as soon they’d exit the Planet, or at least exit our lives?
Then there is a process to get back to square one.
A Practical Process For Forgiveness
It’s not a complicated process, in fact it’s simple. It’s as simple as the simplicity which is in Christ, as the Bible says. It’s not an exact formula, but it might go something like this:
1.A recognition of the wrongness of unforgiveness, coupled with repentence, a change of mind, perhaps a prayer,
“Lord, I’m sorry for harboring that resentment. I know it’s sinful. I know it’s wrong. I want to love that person, and therefore forgive them. Fill me with your Spirit, because without you I can do nothing. But with you all things are possible.”
2.Coming back to the recognition of your new life in Christ. Again reckoning yourself dead to sin, and alive to God through Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11). It won’t hurt to say it out loud, but of course it’s not magic:
“I am dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ. I don’t have to hold resentment, and withhold love for that person. I am free in Christ to love and forgive, because the old me died and I am now a New Creation."
3.Exercising love toward that person. It may not be face to face. You may not even have that opportunity. If you do, great. Go ahead and show them love. Show them you are not holding a grudge or resentment. But if you don’t have the opportunity in person, pray for them. Every time you think of them, put off the resentment, and put on a prayer of love for them.
“Lord bless so-and-so. Draw them near to yourself, and work your wonderful will in their lives. And if possible, Lord, let them know that I love and forgive them.”
4.Rinse and repeat, just like shampooing your hair. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let a root of bitterness grow. Practice is not unbiblical. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, and sometimes we just need to PRACTICE these things, until they are habit.
It can be a habit to walk by the Flesh, and it can be a habit to walk by the Spirit. So practice walking by the Spirit. Practice loving, practice forgiving.
Then you may find that in some mysterious way, it’s not you doing it, but Jesus, living His live through you. You may be skywalking in another realm, a heavenly realm, an eternal realm, and wondering how it was you used to hold all that resentment and bitterness for anybody.
A miracle will have been worked in you by God Himself. You will be walking by faith, not by sight. You will be setting your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. You will be walking in forgiveness.
And what does that forgiveness look like? It looks like love.
It’s 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. (1 Cor. 13)
And then you are free.