Forgiveness

 

Forgiveness

by Susan Fiedler

 

Quite a few years ago I had a Vietnamese foreign exchange student in my high school chemistry class. He was cheerful and attentive, and I genuinely enjoyed having him in class.But I never had the conversation I really wanted to have with him.  I never talked with him about the VietNam War.The main reason was that such a discussion simply didn’t mesh with chemistry class very well.  But there was another reason, too.

Even though none of my family had fought in that war, I had seen it played out on tv every night during my teenage years.  I found my emotions still too raw to risk talking about it in the school setting. As a teacher, I was an authority figure.  I couldn’t risk allowing negative emotions to overshadow my genuine interest in his perceptions of the war.

After experiencing my own feelings bristle in the face of discussing the war, I am even more impressed with various people on both sides of the conflict finding ways to communicate, apologize, and repent to one another.  It takes enormous intestinal fortitude to look at people once firmly identified as enemies as human beings instead, like ourselves, needing reconciliation.

Recently one of our pastors shared that he had been meditating on forgiveness.  Just like most of the rest of us, he saw numerous instances in the past when he had caused offense. The problem is that we can’t handily find people we may have hurt when younger and less mature. We may not have known that we were causing offense when we actually did sometimes.  Additionally, there are all of those we offended before being transformed by the love of Yeshua, Jesus.

Ultimately we have to leave reconciliation in His hands for those many individuals we cannot track down. But what about those closer to home? This pastor thought about his children and his wife. Had he hurt them in times past? Did he need to repent to any or all of them?

So he sat down with each and gave each an opportunity to share with him any lingering hurt.  From that he could repent and apologize. Their relationship could blossom further from there, without those wounds from their past. 

That got me to thinking. I found it easy to think of opening the door for our daughter or my husband to tell me where I had offended either of them.  But in the process, I had to consider if there was anything at all for which I harbored resentment. To my surprise, there was. Now, my hubby is simply the most wonderful man I know.  We’ve been blessed by a real minimum of conflict along the way.  But when we have had conflict, it was not due to surface disagreements.  Instead, there was something fundamental at the root.

Years ago, while dealing with our younger daughter’s rather tumultuous teenage and young adult years, we really had some divergent views on her reactions. In considering whether I could see anything to repent to him about, I realized I still had lingering hurt about some of his decisions! It’s really uncomfortable to talk to people about offenses.  Whether we’re the culprit or the recipient, we don’t like to dredge up those feelings.  Sometimes we’re even afraid that we’ll lose control of our emotions and do more harm than good! But for believers, we really have no option.  Yeshua, Jesus, commanded us to do so!

In Matthew 5:22-24 He says, “…The simple moral fact is that words kill.  This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right….” (MSG)

In Matthew 18:15, He turns it inside out.  “ Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.’’  (CJB)

Abba calls each of us to unity with Him and with one another!  In His prayer with the disciples the night He was taken to be sacrificed, Yeshua said in John 17:20-21, “I pray not on behalf of these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their message [that’s you and me],  that they all may be one. Just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, so also may they be one in Us, so the world may believe that You sent Me.”

How often have believers lamented that the Body doesn’t walk in power today to bring sinners to faith?  Disobedience to this commandment is part of the reason.

Being in unity is not nearly so much a matter of doctrine as it is a matter of spirit.  If each of us will look to the Father for that spirit, that Ruach, of echad, or unity, He will show us the way.  That effort at unity works as a battering ram against division.  Instead, great works of the Spirit can break forth in power!!

Because I realized that I was harboring a grudge against my hubby, I saw that I had to tell him.  But the result was shocking! In doing so, not only did he repent and ask forgiveness from hurting me, but he also shared a misunderstanding from my actions back then.  I had no idea that he was harboring hurt based upon a wrong interpretation of my actions! The door swung wide open for me to explain and apologize.

Even though neither of us was functioning with actively nurtured grudges, both of us were enabled to seek repentance and forgiveness, leading to an even closer walk together in Yeshua.

If this way of communicating just doesn’t make sense to you, you are right along with most of the rest of the human race. But we cannot—we must not—stop there. We’re supposed to be changed!!!

The Apostle Paul sums it up in Romans 12:1-2.  

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  (MSG)

Communication from the heart! When we obey from the heart it ultimately brings joy. Faithful obedience leads to His ultimate goal for all of us.  Unity in Yeshua—God’s real way to walk.

 

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