+Living Life God's Way+
This is true love - a love that continues when we don't feel like it;
a love that's unconditional; a love that rejoices in good times and
encourages in bad times; a love that lasts forever. That willful,
decisive love is what Jesus has for us.
Mike Nappa, Amy Nappa, Michael Warden
Forgiveness and Love
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may
have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Forgiveness sounds great - in theory. Putting it into practice is
another matter entirely! How do you forgive the man who raped you? The
drunk driver who killed your child? The wife who cheated on you? The
terrorist who bombed your country?
The process of forgiveness is much the same whether you need to
forgive your neighbor who ran over your rake, or the neighbor who ran
over your dog. It takes an inner transformation of your heart and mind.
Here are some steps to help you along the journey.
First, ask for God's grace and power. On our own, we don't have
what it takes to forgive as freely and fully as God has forgiven us. And
so the journey of forgiveness begins when we say, "God, I need your
help. Help me to forgive. Change my hardened heart. Help me to even want
to forgive." And God will respond as you and I step our in faith.
Second, let go. Letting go is the essence of forgiveness. Letting
go of my desire for revenge. Letting go of my hatred and anger.
releasing my hurt feelings into God's hands. This is the step that opens
the door to freedom.
Third, pray for your enemy. Ask God to bless and heal your enemy.
This is not the time to ask God to destroy your enemy or change them,
but to bless them and have his way with them.
Fourth, refocus your heart and mind. Often when we've been hurt we
find ourselves dwelling on it, going over and over it in our minds,
dreaming about revenge, what we might have said or done to get the upper
hand. We wear the experience like a groove into our minds. If we're
going to really forgive and be free, we need to refocus our minds. Each
time the circumstance comes back into our consciousness, every time we
begin to feel the hurt again, give it to God and refocus. Meditate on a
piece of Scripture, pray for your enemy - whatever you need to do. The
Bible says we are to take every thought captive that is not obedient to
Christ. That's what we're doing here.
Fifth, act in love. If you are able, whenever possible act in love
toward the one who has harmed you. Kill them with kindness! In doing so
you rise above the hurt. You witness to the power of Jesus, and you just
might win your enemy over.
Finally, keep at it. Forgiveness isn't a one time event. You'll
find your angry feelings coming back over and over again. Let them go,
pray for your enemy again, refocus your mind and heart. And keep at it
until God heals you fully.
Forgiveness isn't natural, and it isn't easy. But it's worth it,
because forgiveness makes love last and grow. It takes courage, and it's
an issue of obedience to the One who has fully forgiven us.
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