THIS SERIES: A HEALTHY HEART
There are three words in the New Testament which can be translated ‘sin’: one refers to ‘that which is owed’; another to ‘falling beside or near, or deviating from a true path’; and the last to ‘missing the mark’. ‘Sin’ covers the whole spectrum, from murder and theft to the irritable motorist in the car behind. Sin is all about falling short – and if I am leaping across a ravine, it doesn’t matter if I miss by a yard or an inch. And just as we fall short, so does everyone else.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or from evil).
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Despite this, many of us carry around unforgiven issues from the past and present. Some of these are to do with the recognisable and serious sin of others; and sometimes we carry wounds from the falling short of loved ones, things which we balk at defining as ‘sin’ out of love and respect for the people concerned; but which nevertheless have left their mark on us.
To be set free we have to name sin for what it is; and then forgive, which in the Greek means ‘to send away’, or ‘to set free’. Forgiveness is a choice, an act of obedience, rather than a feeling. We choose to send the sin away; we choose to set the person free.
COME OUT OF THE CAGE
- Speak aloud to the person concerned. They do not have to be physically present – we are spiritual beings, and our words have spiritual effect - and it is not always appropriate, or possible to speak face to face. (It is also really important to do this if the offender is dead.) Name the sin. ‘You sinned against me when you….’ By doing this we bring the issue into the open, recognise it for what it is, & allow the Lord’s healing light to shine on it.
- Then speak out how that sin has affected you. ’You made me feel…..’; ‘It caused me to….’ etc. Recognising the effect of others’ sin on our lives is an important part of the healing process.
- Now it’s time to forgive. ‘In Jesus name, I forgive you for….... I set you free. I send that sin away & declare it has no more power over my life.’ Sometimes feelings of forgiveness may follow immediately; sometimes it takes time and persistence as we choose to obey for our emotions to get into line.
- And then comes the cruncher; this is when we know whether we have truly forgiven or not – we release blessing on the person concerned (Luke 6:28): ‘I bless you, in the name of Jesus, with His love and grace and mercy…..’ or if the person is dead, on his or her family line.
- We then need to walk in this attitude of forgiveness. When thoughts of the person or situation come into our minds we need to declare ‘You are forgiven in Jesus’ name’, and ‘I bless you with….....’
WHEN WE CAN’T FORGIVE
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message Fräulein”, he said “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your Forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom
WHAT ABOUT THE SMALL STUFF?
He has promised to work all things for our good, even the trifling failures of others. And so we can be thankful, knowing that what the Evil One would like to use to oppress us, in the hands of God, is an opportunity for blessing instead. And having received His grace – His unmerited favour - we can in turn shower it upon others.
It’s time to make the choice to be unoffendable, to walk as Jesus walked - in forgiveness.
If you have never read Corrie ten Boom's beautiful account of God's love and grace during internment in a WW2 concentration camp, you have missed a treat. It is one of the special testimonies in our 'family' history!
It can be obtained from Amazon*, by clicking on the image, right.
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