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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

FORGIVENESS

FORGIVENESS  
REFLECTION:  Wednesday, October 25, 2017

                Forgiveness involves both choice and process. True
forgiveness cannot be reduced to a simple formula but one might consider the following four steps which may lead to forgiveness.
1)      Face the facts
If we truly want to forgive and be forgiven, one must identify what has happened and understand its significance.  Consider the following:
a)       How serious was the offense? Some things require more patience than forgiveness. Does the offense warrant a need for the forgiveness process?
b)      How raw is the wound/hurt? Did the offense occur recently or was significant to you years ago? Would you be ‘picking the scab’ just to keep it open?
c)       How close is the person to me?
d)      How significant is our relationship?

2)      Feel the Feelings
If we tend to forgive quickly one might declare that forgiveness has occurred in haste that is without fully processing the violation for what it was. If one is in a state of emotional numbness or denial, one is in no condition to truly forgive.
But if we tend to slow the forgiveness process down by not feeling ready yet this may also be a subtle way of inflicting punishment on the offender.
Between these two extremes, there is an appropriate time to grieve the loss of what might have been.

3)      A Decision and a Declaration
Forgiveness is ultimately an act of the will, not a stirring of emotions. Forgiveness is an inward choice that produces a declaration:  ”I forgive you.”   From that moment on, the issue is done and over.

4)      Refresh It
Sometimes when we have forgiven someone we remember the hurt that they had caused. It is not a one-time decision to forgive but one needs to remind themselves to keep the commitment made and then let it go. Memories of the hurt will return but letting it go is a task we must do.

C.S. Lewis writes: “To forgive for the moment is not difficult, but to go on forgiving, to forgive the same offense every time it recurs to the memory- that’s a real tussle.
Questions to consider:
1.       Reflect upon each of the four points of forgiveness. Are you experiencing any of these steps towards forgiveness with others? How does this list help you to prepare to fully forgive?
2.       Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying “I repent,” you must forgive them. “ Luke 17:3-5
Are you willing to forgive others this many times even if they say, ”I am sorry” and seek forgiveness? How difficult is this to do?
What would you say to the one who hurts/ wounds/ offends you?

PRAYER
God we know it is difficult to forgive others who hurt, wound and offend us yet you ask us to listen to the other, and to respond in love and with faith. Enable us to do this as we are challenged and show us again what it means to be your faithful follower. Help us forgive others as we too need to be forgiven. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Resource:  Gary Inrig, “The Risk of Forgiveness: What it means to forgive”. Discovery Series, ODB Ministries. p. 28-32. NEXT week we will be a new series of reflections!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

FORGIVENESS

FORGIVENESS  

REFLECTION:  Wednesday, October 18, 2017

                What is involved in forgiveness? Genuine repentance
and this goes beyond an apology or even an expression of regret. It is a change of mind that produces a change of action.
                Repentance is the way we deal with sin but is deeper than regret because it involves a determination to change. Change may not be instant but it can be genuine. When a person repents they need to do so with feeling and usually with words. But without repentance the process is broken.  True forgiveness flows toward repentance. Process is clear—I am sinned against, I confront the offender, he sincerely declares his repentance and I declare forgiveness.  Yet if this process does not occur, that is the offender will not admit the sin, no matter how clear the evidence or there is no regret what do you do then? It is not always easy to forgive!
                Forgiveness can only come from those who have been wronged. And yes, forgiveness can occur but forgetting what occurred will unlikely be erased completely from memory.
                Tutu wrote: “Forgiveness and being reconciled are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong.”
                Forgiveness looks sin in the eye and speaks the difficult words: “I forgive you.”  Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness clears the ledger but it does not instantly rebuild trust. Forgiveness is given; reconciliation is earned. Forgiveness cancels debts, it does not eliminate all consequences. Forgiveness involves both choice and process.
Questions to consider:
1.       How would you distinguish between forgiveness and reconciliation? Does it make a difference to the degree of reconciliation one has with the other person? How?
2.       Jesus says to forgive even 7 x 7 times per day as long as the person seeking forgiveness is willing to r repent. What does this notion of repentance mean for you? Does repentance matter for you?
PRAYER
Wonderful God you call us to forgive those who seek to repentance just like you ask us to do. Sometimes it is so difficult and yet you do it because of your amazing gift of grace and unconditional love. Help us to fully realize your gift of grace and to share this with others. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Resource:  Gary Inrig, “The Risk of Forgiveness: What it means to forgive”. Discovery Series, ODB Ministries. p. 23-27. NEXT week will be the conclusion of this series with the “Four Steps of Forgiveness”.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

FORGIVENESS 2

FORGIVENESS  
REFLECTION:  Wednesday, October 4, 2017

                What is forgiveness? Jesus’ statement about one of the most
discussed topics within faith communities is found in Luke 17: 3-4      “if your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them”. These are simple instructions about forgiveness but they communicate ‘foundational aspects to the giving and receiving of forgiveness.”
                We have often heard people say, ‘forgive and forget”.  We read in Hebrews 10:17 “their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” But did God really forget them? To be God he didn’t forget these sins, they were recorded so that future generations could learn from them. When God forgets our sins, He no longer holds them against us.  The central issue is not that we forget, but what we do when we remember that someone has wronged us.  It is through God’s grace and the power of the Spirit that enables the transgressions to be blotted out. God is really testifying to God’s faithfulness and offers grace.
                The only way to truly forgive is to remember. This requires a careful look at what has actually happened. Two misconceptions_ we may need to forgive God and that we need to forgive ourselves.
                Often people blame God for what has happened but the blame is misplaced.  We may need to come to terms with what God has permitted in our lives. We may need to vent our anger to God or our disappointment with how He is working. But isn’t our anger only misplaced? God does not sin so therefore cannot be forgiven.
                Is it possible to forgive oneself? If a person has sinned, they are the offender and not the victim of the actions. But if the actions harm oneself—who needs forgiveness? There might be a feeling of guilt, shame, disappointment and anger. But when people speak about forgiving themselves, they nearly always talk about alleviating these feelings.
                If we turn forgiveness inward there is a danger that we would focus on feelings rather than the act which was done. Deep repentance and character transformation should come before emotional release. But there is genuine repentance when forgiveness does restore the joy one has!
                Psalm 32:1 “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven!”
QUESTIONS:
Do you remember the sins of others who have hurt you?
Do you remember those sins you have committed? Have you let go of the feelings tied with them in order that you can move forward? God is calling you to do this right now. Pray and ask forgiveness so that you might have joy in your heart.
PRAYER:  Holy God as I reflect on those actions and inactions which have gone against your teaching please lift away the feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment and anger. Enable me to search within to find a new way of life—filled with joy and hope. Hear me O God …. SILENCE… Amen.

Resource:  Gary Inrig, “The Risk of Forgiveness: What it means to forgive”. Discovery Series, ODB Ministries. p. 13-18