Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness

08
Dec
08

Mercy you, mercy me

Photo Credit - //farm4.static.flickr.com/3141/2763983708_aecf056970_b.jpgMercy very much can denote an attitude of compassion that reaches out to people who are suffering and hurting.  Blind men followed Jesus and cried out for mercy.  He healed them.  A Canaanite woman sought mercy for her demonized daughter and Jesus delivered her.  Likewise a father pleaded for mercy for his troubled son, and Jesus restored him.

Mercy can also carry a narrower meaning akin to forgiving someone.  We see that meaning in the parable Jesus tells about the servant whom was forgiven a large debt by his master, but then refused to forgive the small debt he was owed by another servant.  The master in the parable says these words to the unforgiving servant,

Mt 18:32 …‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’

The Message in translating this beatitude does a good job in capturing the scope of this word.  It reads,

Mt 5:7a “You’re blessed when you care…”

The blessing associated with being merciful is that one will receive mercy.  God will bless them by extending to them mercy.  God will bless them by being compassionate to them and granting them forgiveness.

It is not that by showing mercy to others I cause God to show mercy to me.  Rather my showing mercy to others is the occasion that demonstrates that I have received mercy from God.  Or as the Message puts it,

Mt 5:7b “At the moment of being ‘care-ful,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

Recent economic news may have us tightening our belts, but mercy is something we can still afford to give this Christmas.  In fact I don’t think we can afford not to give it.

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14
Oct
08

Getting hung up in revenge

Ahithophel may not be well-know to you.  He was a counsellor of King David whose advice was esteemed and considered to be as if one had consulted the word of God (2Sam 16:23).  When King David’s rogue son, Absalom, was preparing for his coup, he invited Ahithophel to join his conspiracy.  The once-trusted adviser not only betrayed David, but he advised Absalom to publicly dishonour his father (2Sam 16:20-22) and sought permission to personally pursue and assassinate King David (2Sam 17:1-3).  What was driving this apparent about-face by Ahithophel?

Here, I am only speculating, but I believe that Ahithophel had some unsettled relational business with King David.  Ahithophel was believed to be the grandfather of Bathsheba, the women with whom King David committed adultery and then sought to cover up his sin by having her husband killed in battle.  I am suggesting that Ahithophel never really processed that wrong to his family, he never really forgave David of that sin.  Ahithophel had somehow found a way to push that unresolved relational matter underground, but time did not heal it, only allowed it to fester.  With Absalom’s coup, Ahithophel was presented with an opportunity to avenge his family of King David’s crime.  It was unsettled relational baggage that I believe was driving Ahithophel to betray, dishonour and seek King David’s life.

You might already know, but Absalom did not follow Ahithophel’s military advice.  God through another was protecting David.  When Ahithophel saw that Absalom had rejected his counsel, he saddled his donkey, journeyed to his home town, settled his affairs and hung himself (2Sam 17:23).  I sense that  Ahithophel’s reason for living had devolved to getting revenge against David.

None of us want to find ourselves in that state.  Safeguarding ourselves against such craziness involves being pro-active in processing relational mess-ups.  Here are 3 suggestions, I would love to hear what else you would add.

1. Process anger in healthy ways.

2. Release others from “owing you” for their screw-ups.

3. If another feels offended by you, make it a priority to do what you ought to make it right.

16
Jun
08

Becoming a man of prayer – experiencing forgiveness (ch. 8)

“Many people handle guilt by repressing or internalizing it…others attempt reeducation…some seek to atone for their guilt by becoming religious…some men and women deal with guilt by punishing themselves…The problem with all of these solutions is the same, they don’t work! There is only one effective solution for true moral guilt. That solution is now accessible through prayer.”

In this chapter the author deals with the phrase ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Mt 6:12). He suggests four stages in order to receive and to offer forgiveness.

First, we need to get honest with God and ask the Holy Spirit to show us concrete sins that we need to confess. Beltz in his prayer notebook has also made a list of character flaws so that he is regularly prompted to pray about these as well. Stage two is agreeing with what the Holy Spirit has shown us and confessing that before God in prayer, giving thanks for the forgiveness that is available to us because of Jesus’ atoning work. Sometimes there is benefit is confessing our sin before another believer (see James 5:16). Thirdly, we seek the power of God to change the defects of our character and the behaviour patterns that are not pleasing to God. Finally we check our attitudes. We need to willfully decide to extend forgiveness to those that have wronged us. This needs to be an ongoing choice so that negative emotions do not embitter us. When we have wronged others we need to attempt to make things right through asking for forgiveness from the one we have wronged and seeking to restore what our sin has damaged.

I have experienced challenges in each of these phases. Sometimes I just want to accept my flaws. Other times I mistakenly try to earn my forgiveness. For sure, it was good to be reminded to persist in choosing to forgive another so that the emotional fall-out has time to heal.

Click here for this week’s assignment.

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