I prayed about this post this morning. As you can see it is after 11PM my time at this precise moment. It is just so difficult to face one's own sins much less to confess them to a Christian friend or worse to confess them with the world.
I heard about a fellow in my own home town (did I mention before the population is approx. 1000?) who found out his wife was cheating on him. They were both church goers (I do not know them so I don't know any of their fruit to say one way or the other about their Christianity.) This fellow found out and told his wife that he would keep her and not divorce her if she would get up in front of the whole church and confess her sin then ask for an accountability partner. WOW! That sounds like conditional forgiveness... no, wait. That doesn't sound like forgiveness at all. That sounds like spite or someone trying to hurt as much as he's been hurt.
I seriously doubt I could ever get up and confess my sins to the whole church. It isn't that I lack the courage to do so... as anyone can tell from this blog, I'm very open about my shortcomings. The problem I have is the church family holding my already forgiven sins against me.
We do it all the time. We find out about someone's shortcomings and we just flip out about it letting it hurt our relationships and allowing it to erode our trust for the "sinner". Uh Oh.
Sinner... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So how can I not forgive when I've been forgiven so much?
Forgiveness isn't about the person who did me wrong!
Forgiveness is all about what goes on inside my heart... your heart... God's heart.
Forgiveness has an eternity factor. We'd never get to heaven if God did not forgive our sins. Jesus stands between us and God and makes that forgiveness possible. Therefore, the eternity factor.
It took me six years to figure out that forgiveness isn't about the offense. Adultery is as bad as lying is as bad as murder is as bad as coveting is as bad as working on Sunday. Did you know that a man was stoned to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath? God told Moses to have him stoned. Those Israelites didn't take God seriously back then and we don't take Him seriously today. Jesus said not to fear the man who could break a bone but to fear the One who could throw you into Hell. That's unforgiveness... the throwing into Hell part.
In my quest to forgive the particularly horrible offenses commited against me, I realized two things about forgiveness. Jesus died to make it possible. God's plan was forgiveness from the beginning.
I just read those statements again and I cannot find a "you" or an "I" in them anywhere. I figure that an unbeliever may try to forgive an offense, but I seriously doubt he will completely forgive. That is because forgiving someone is a God thing.
As a believer, what ever is done to you is done to God because the Holy Spirit indwells, becomes one with your spirit so that there is no way your soul can be separated from Him. God hates it when someone messes with His kids. He is forebearing, but vengence is His. Which is so very interesting because His vengence is mighty compared to our puny intellect and pitiful strength. How much greater is vengence when God can search the heart of the offender? Yet... how much God has forgiven!
Another thing I learned in my quest is that God will bring to mind many sins that have been forgiven when He is bent on you forgiving an offense. I'd rather just go ahead and forgive... let the thing go... forget it happened rather than face those demons again.
So when my second husband said, "Regina, go home to Louisiana. I don't want to be married to you any more," my trip down the Forgiveness Trail was much shorter than the first time.
Things that inhibit forgiveness are rather simple but necessary to recognize.
Pride goes before destruction. Recognize it because it ruins everything it touches and it begins in the mind. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Anger arises when our sense of justice is tipped over. Anger has to be dealt with before forgivness can be attempted. That's a whole 'nother ball of wax but related to the candle of forgiveness.
Self-righteousness is stupidity. No one can make himself righteous so it is best described as an oxy moron.
So the moral of this post is this: Take every offense to God and ask Him to deal with it in His way and to forgive through you. This is precisely what God did. He forgave through Jesus.