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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Faith and forgiveness: Part IV – Understanding

Sin is so pervasive in our lives that many times we’re unaware we’ve even committed an offense. We overlook the still small voice in favor of the demands for satisifaction coming from our pride and our lust. Knowing this we should not assume that others are aware when something they’ve done has offended us. The scripture makes if very plain that if we are at odds with a brother then we are to go to him in meekness seeking reconciliation, not restitution.

In Matthew 7 Jesus was recorded as stating that before we could approach a brother concerning an offense we must first examine ourselves. He accused those that failed to do so of being hypocrites and made a comparison between a mote, or small twig and a beam or a log used for structural support, that clearly illustrates this situation. It is much more a grievous offense to fail to have the proper attitude in approaching our brother than it is for him to have offended us through neglect, carelessness or even intent. When we fail to fully resolve our feelings toward our brother we most often will ask him to do the impossible and then blame him when he is unable to accomplish it! It is also quite common to be approached by others who demand you seek their forgiveness for an offense you never even committed! An essential element of forgiving is understanding and there are three basic levels of understanding needed to resolve an offense and restore fellowship between believers. The beam analogy represents the first level of understanding, that of understanding our self (see here and here).

The second level of understanding involves a determined effort to place ourselves in the situation of the person who we believe has offended us. Many people find this most difficult to accomplish because they fail in their effort to first understand themselves. If we are honest with our self we can easily see the times when we were the offending party and how easy it was to commit the offense. We should also consider how desperate we felt to realize the depth of the trauma our actions had caused. Lastly we should remember the great burden that was lifted when our brother forgave us and our fellowship was restored in love. If we are unable to empathize, or at least sympathize with our brother then most likely the beam still remains and we should go back and reconsider our attitude again. We must understand that we cannot be selctive in our application of the Golden Rule.

The third level of understanding is the most critical. It is impossible to truly forgive others if we fail to reach this level of understanding. We must understand that the power, ability and even the act of doing any work of faith is centered in Jesus Christ. All forgiveness, as well as all judgment is centered in Jesus. If we are to truly forgive another we must view that person through Jesus just as God would see us, in desperate need of forgiveness whether we realize it or not. We must understand we are no better than our Lord and humble ourselves and sacrifice our pride and our lust for vengeance to God, and follow Christ loving example. We must understand that our hurt will only be resolved in His great love when we bring every vengeful thought captive to Him. No matter how often the offense comes to mind we must choose rather to remember His great affliction and suffering on our behalf.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good thoughts, Kc.

3/12/2006 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks Matthew. I really appreciate your encouragement. ;-)

3/12/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Seeker said...

I can't, but Christ can. Therefore, I can.

3/12/2006 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Very well said Sis, "I can do all things..." ;-)

3/13/2006 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

It is much more a grievous offense to fail to have the proper attitude in approaching our brother than it is for him to have offended us through neglect, carelessness or even intent.

That statement really got me. I will have to read it over and over and really let it sink in.

3/13/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kristi it's so easy to fall into the trap of judging others isn't it? May God bless you sister. ;-)

3/13/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

I love your postings. I believe that we (Christians) have reduced sin to a failure or a mistake. We don't like the word sin. It's so archaic. Isn't everything psychological or just a weakness?

I know when I call sin by it's true name-sin, it is much easy to ask God to forgive me and to get on with my life.

I also think that younger Christians have not been taught what sin really is. I've been reading some blogs and it bothers me when people accept what society accepts because it's the Christian thing to do-be nice and accepting. We need to be able to accept people-but at the same time know what sin is. I will get off my soap box now.

3/13/2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I agree with your post here kc.

But I find one of the hardest things to do is to truly, truly realize that we have been truly treaspassed against.

In other words its much easier to say this or that really didn't matter to us. The results being that I do not truly have to forgive if I don't really think that what that person did really hurt me.

This is the bondage that some people live in, especially those who have had parents or an older person harm them when they were a child. It's one thing to harbor unforgiveness and become bitter, true forgiveness is the solution for the soul in this situation.

It is another thing to count something as not an offense and live out of touch with God's true reality and thereby go on hurting others because you lie to yourself and say it shouldn't hurt them because it doesn't hurt you.

Does that make sense?

3/13/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pattie Welcome and thanks for your kind words. I think for men to justify themselves it is essential to deny sin and sinfulness. I suspect this is primary in the development of any culture. Please always bring your soap box. ;-)

Kris, excellent insight as always. I think the key for making those determinations is in self evaluation. When you "feel" offended it is essential to resolve that feeling and determine if the offense is genuine or based an assumption of intent. If a deed has been truly offensive then we are obligated to confront the offender in meekness even though we would often prefer to let it go. What might help is knowing we only have to tell them we've been offended. We don't have to make them understand and we are not responsible for getting an apology. We are then free to let it go and forgive them whether they want it or not. Great thoughts brother. (I wish I could quit you haha). ;-)

3/13/2006 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger audrey` said...

Usually, it is very difficult to share with the offender that we've been offended. The situation might worsened. The relationship could be more strained.

It's so much easier if the offender is a mature and responsible person who takes charge of his own behaviour. Then he could evaluate your kind feedback.

Otherwise, I would prefer to let it go and move on from there. Avoiding the offender if possible, so as not to be hurt further.

My best comfort is God knows everything. So, I don't have to justify my reaction to the offense :)

3/13/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Audrey it's true that even when we decide to forgive someone that doesn't mean we've decided to trust them. That's something that has to be earned. Thanks so much for your thoughts dear sister. ;-)

3/13/2006 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hi kc,
Forgiving reasonable people is not a terrible burden.
What I have a problem with is unreasonable ones. I have a certain person in mind, from years ago. Many years. He has no idea how he offended me and would never recognize it. He would rather reflect blame on me and many others for his own poor attitude. I have seen many casualties of this Christian's sour spirit, yet he thinks he is a valiant warrior for the Lord and has no idea how destructive and hateful he has been. If someone tries to tell him, they just become more of a target for verbal abuse and gossip. I need to forgive this person. It is hard to feel like it has taken place, though, when there is nothing there on the other side. I have thought that perhaps I just need to become "ready to forgive" if and when the chance arises. I guess my question is: How is forgiveness a relaity as a human being when the offender is such as this?

3/13/2006 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jayne said...

I struggle with the fact that we judge ones actions and decide whether or not it is a sin. I beleive that is up to God.

However, I am fully aware that I sin, whether intentional or not, but I feel forgiveness only comes if I don't commit the sin again. Virtually impossible, as seen in the old testment.

I certainly want forgiveness, but I feel that my forgiveness comes from God, not others. You can forgive me for something I have done, but my true forgiveness comes directly from God.

3/13/2006 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Rose I'd like to hold your question for now and after my next article maybe we could discuss it then. I really appreciate you being so open. ;-)

Jayne it's true, only God can grant forgiveness but I'm concerned we might confuse His forgiveness (noun, something we posses) with His forgiving us(verb, forgoing punishment)and our forgiving each other. I hope we can discuss this further. Thanks sis. ;-)

3/13/2006 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Pia said...

wow, i've missed a lot!

forgiving those that have offended me has always been a struggle. i used to say, "why would i forgive him/her? he/she hasn't even asked for my forgiveness!" i couldn't also distinguish the difference between the offender and the offense. for me, when i say i hate a person, what i meant was i hate the wholeness of that person. i don't just hate the offense but also the offender himself. until i've learned that when i forgive, i'm not freeing anyone from a bondage but myself. i'm, in fact, doing myself a favor. a person may not know that he has offended me but it is my choice whether to stay bitter or not. i have also learned that forgiving/letting go is a decision that i have to make not a feeling that i need to feel before i can forgive. i was told two years ago, "don't wait for yourself to feel like forgiving the people that offended you because that feeling will never come. forgiveness is a decision you have to make to release yourself from that bitter bondage." i've realized that God has forgiven me time and again for the sins i've done and the hurts i caused Him. so why can't i forgive my offenders?

i have already forgiven but i still ask God to help me live each day with a forgiving heart.

3/13/2006 11:32:00 PM  

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