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Facing Truth and Reality
Where are we on the journey toward forgiveness?
Forgiveness not really given
The difficult thing about forgiveness is that we often think we have forgiven when in reality we have not. We give lip service to having forgiven, but then we harbor grudges in our heart. Most of us labor under the difficulty of really letting go of our hurts. In fact we sometimes seem quite proud of our grudges.
Anger and unforgiveness destroy life. As Christians, forgiveness must be our central daily work, if we are to guard against hate and bitterness and walk in love with Jesus.
Most of the time we take forgiveness for granted. We make an effort to forgive and think we are free of the hurt, but then a situation comes up that triggers old emotions, and we are back into the hurt and bitterness again. We fool ourselves when we think enlightened will power is enough to overcome dark resentments, jealousies, bitternesses, and fears we have held inside for so long. As Christians, we should recognize that unforgiveness is a sin issue which cannot be remedied through our striving.
Four levels of wounding that require forgiveness
1. Bruise: Surface level wounding which can be healed easily if treated promptly and properly. Bruises or abrasions require forgiving moment by moment. Bruises occur when people were insensitive, made errors in judgment, slip of the tongue, unthinking acts, unintentional hurt.
These are easy to forgive.
2. Cut: More serious wound that perhaps was inflicted intentionally. The hurt produces immediate, personal pain and will require special treatment to achieve forgiveness and healing. Characteristics: The hurt is personal, the wounding act seems unfair, the pain is felt deeply. Happens when slighted by a friend, favoritism is shown, feel undervalued by someone we care about.
These take more thought, but when we consider the results of unforgiveness, we are able to forgive.
3. Open Wound: Major hurt lodged in the heart that cannot be treated just by our own understanding or desire to change our feelings. The pain continues despite our consciously wanting to forgive. This wound comes from someone who has intentionally hurt us and is unrepentant. This would can fester and turn into resentment and bitterness. The unforgiveness has become "lodged in the heart."
Forgiveness at this level can be extremely difficult. It will require pray over and over again.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:9-13 that we are to forgive our debtors (those who have wronged us). It takes a lot of humility and pray on our part. Some misunderstand this to mean that the abuser will get off without penalty. This is not true because God provides judgment and renders justice far better than we do.
The Lord Jesus Christ took the vengeance of all mankind to the cross, but those will be forgiven who submit their lives to Him. All others will have to reap the full measure of penalty for the grief they sow.
4. Crippling Injury: Deep wounds of the spirit resulting in pervasive attitudes of unforgiveness toward life. The actual wound or its ramifications may not be in one's conscious awareness. Traumatic experiences of early childhood can be imprinted in the spirit and cause difficulty in later years. Even unthinking acts can be devastating to children.
When emotional, physical, or sexual abuse has been experienced by young children, they suppress the hurtful feelings and they get deeply lodged in the heart and spirit. There also comes shame. There may be bitterness toward life itself.
This is the toughest forgiveness to accomplish. Forgiveness has to be worked at for a long time.
In our next nugget will be providing a way to test yourself to see if you have unforgiveness in your heart.
To the world, you may just be somebody...but to somebody, you may be the world.
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Richard D. Dover
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