THE "ACT" OF FORGIVENESS

Posted by Perry


MATTHEW 18:21-35
8/29/2010 SM
Mat 18:21 Peter came up to the Lord and asked, "How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?"
Mat 18:22 Jesus answered: Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!
Not hard to understand “concept” of FORGIVENESS…
Difficulty comes w/ the “act” of FORGIVENESS…
STEP 1: ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU’VE BEEN SERIOUSLY HURT
- Admit it
o Don’t be “macho”
o Don’t be in “denial”
o Get in position to pursue forgiveness
- Not every incident qualifies for Forgiveness
o Minor disappointments
o Passing slights
- Qualifying offences
o Pain inflicted is
 Personal
 Unfair
 Deep
o Betrayal
o Brutality (physical/emotional)
- Hatred can take root in our heart
o Can’t get rid of it by covering it up
o Hate is sign that forgiveness is needed
STEP 2: SURRENDER YOUR RIGHT TO GET EVEN
- ILL: 7yr boy screamed/Mom found 2yr sister pulling his hair/Mom got her loose/told boy little sister didn’t understand that it hurt/boy nodded and left room/later Mom heard little sister scream/ rushing in Mom asked what happened/boy said, “she understands now.”
- Few would dispute our right to get even.
o Rule of world: do unto others as they’ve done unto you
- Forgiveness lays aside our right to extract our revenge.
o We leave ultimate justice & vengeance to God
o We deliberately choose path of forgiveness for ourselves
 1st step down a different path
- Some argue this will make you a “doormat” to be trodden underfoot
o Reality-unleashes a power not know to man
ILL: Albert Tomei is a justice of the New York State Supreme Court. A young defendant was convicted of gunning down another person execution style. The murderer had a bad record, & was no stranger to the system. He only stared in anger as the jury returned its guilty verdict.
The victim’s family had attended every day of the two-week trial. On the day of sentencing, the victim’s mother and grandmother addressed the court. When they spoke, neither addressed the jury. Both spoke directly to the murderer. They both forgave him.
“You broke the Golden Rule—loving God w/ all your heart, soul and mind. You broke the law—loving your neighbor as yourself. I am your neighbor,” the older of the two women told him, “so you have my address. If you want to write, I’ll write you back. I sat in this trial for two weeks, and for the last 16 months I tried to hate you. But you know what? I couldn’t hate you. I feel sorry for you b/c you made a wrong choice.
Judge Tomei writes: “For the 1st time since the trial began, the defendant’s eyes lost their laser force and appeared to surrender to a life force that only a mother can generate: nurturing, unconditional love. After the grandmother finished, I looked at the defendant. His head was hanging low. There was no more swagger, no more stare. The destructive and evil forces within him collapsed helplessly before this remarkable display of humaneness.”
[source:www.preachingtoday.com]

- In choosing path of forgiveness, grandmother unleashed a power that could not be tapped any other way.
o It was the only thing that caused the defendant to hand his head in guilt.
STEP 3: SEARCH FOR THE REAL PERSON BENEATH THE EVIL MASK
- We like to caricature our wrongdoer
o Emphasize all bad things about them
o Twist anything that looks remotely good
o Quick to cast doubt on their every motive
o We see them only and always in one way…evil
- Forgiveness requires we look for the real person behind the caricature
o See that they have hurt
o They are weak, needy & fallible
o Find reasons for our hearts to turn toward mercy instead of malice
- Don’t grant them “victim” status & excuse all their wrong
o We’re forgiving not excusing
o Simply treat them as another participant in this messy thing called life
- Motivation?
o Doing for them what God did for us
o God looked beyond our sin & saw something worth loving
o We’ve been called to do that too
STEP 4: DESIRE THAT GOOD THINGS WOULD HAPPEN TO YOUR WRONGDOER
- Move from dreaming of bad things toward them to hoping for good things in their life
o Forgiveness doesn’t mean there is no punishment
o Punishment that leads to sorrow brings them to where they need to be
o Key is in the motive:
 Anger/hatred?
 See their heart changed?
STEP 5: IF POSSIBLE, ENJOY THE HEALED RELATIONSHIP
- Sometimes person can’t join you in moving toward reconciliation (may be dead)
- Sometimes person won’t join you in moving toward reconciliation (won’t admit guilt)
- Reconciliation demands they understand pain they’ve caused you & must be sorrowful over it
- When they are…make sure you enjoy the healing & renewed relationship that comes with “complete forgiveness”

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