Monday, September 2, 2013

The Cost of Unforgiveness (Part One)

Monday – September 2, 2013

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
This text reminds us of the importance of forgiveness, making allowance for each other’s faults (because we DO have them you know!); we forgive because we are forgiven.  Also note – there is no mention of a request for forgiveness (apology).
How are you at forgiving?  Do you make others come to you, groveling, before you’ll even consider it?  Do you say you forgive, and then keep bringing it up, rolling it around in conversation or just thinking about it until you unravel whatever forgiveness you might have given?  Have you not learned to forget to talk about another’s wrong towards you?
Maybe this will help:
Have you ever considered the cost of NOT forgiving?
I’ve known people who took a grudge to the grave.  Trust me – that is not something you want to carry into the next life, standing before the throne with belligerence and malice in your heart. 
Consider the Lord’s Prayer:  forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  It’s a small line which connects these dots; our own sins are forgiven by God in exactly the same way we are willing to forgive others.  If you refuse to forgive, you place yourself outside God’s forgiving promises; not a good place!
What about the cost of DELAYING forgiveness?
There’s a bit of unwise advice which always makes its way into this discussion about forgiving others.   It is the idea of forgiving “too soon”.  You hear this expressed in a variety of ways: 
·        I’m not ready
·        She hurt me too deeply to forgive right now…
·        What he’s done is unforgivable; why…
The problem of withholding forgiveness is that the longer you hold something, the closer you are to owning it.  In this case, holding hate in your heart becomes a familiar, almost safe-haven for self-justification.  It is a control-device, holding the offender hostage; you have opted to retain power, rather than release the power of God to heal both you and the offender.  When you won’t participate in healing, you prolong the sickness of strife and division.  
Harboring unforgiveness is like going for a test drive at the car dealership. 
The salesman wants you behind the wheel, smelling the new leather seats, feeling that power as you accelerate, and the smooth way that baby handles the curves.  It’s a known fact of human behavior – once you take it for a test drive, you’re half-way to signing on the dotted line.
When you delay forgiving, you also harbor anger or resentment, foolishly thinking it is only a delay against a later, more “convenient” time to forgive.  What you have really accomplished is to place yourself in the driver’s seat of a car you really would never choose to buy (under more sane conditions).  In short, you’re participating in revenge!  Who wants the power of crippling another person held in his hands like a car key?
In tomorrow’s post we will talk more about how to go about forgiveness. 
For today – get forgiveness on the prayer agenda.  And if you have trouble finding a place to start, start like the man whose child was ill.  He asked Jesus to heal the child.  Jesus told him all things were possible with faith.  He said “I believe; help my unbelief”.

So….I will forgive; help my unforgiveness!

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