FORGIVENESS Colossians 3:13 says, "You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." When you're part of a family, you're going to need to forgive. Families give all kinds of opportunity to be hurt. "Forgiveness is a sort of divine absurdity," Walter Wangerin Jr. writes in an excellent book called As for Me and My House: Forgiveness is a willing relinquishment of certain rights. The one sinned against chooses not to demand her rights of redress for the hurt she has suffered. She does not hold her spouse accountable for his sin, nor enforce a punishment from him...She does not make his life miserable in order to balance accounts for her own misery, even though she might feel perfectly justified in doing so, tit for tat: "He deserves to be hurt as he hurt me." The pattern for forgiveness, again, is Jesus. He forgave us, and because of that, we're required to forgive others. This is hardest, sometimes, within our own families. Hurts accumulate, patterns are repeated. But we're required to forgive. Do we have to wait until the person asks for forgiveness before we forgive them? Some people argue that that's the way God treats us. Actually, it isn't. Romans 5:8 says, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Before we ever thought of asking God for forgiveness, he was already taking action to forgive us. In any case, when we don't forgive, sometimes when we're waiting for the other person to apologize or to ask forgiveness, we're doing damage to ourselves. Ann Lamott's said that "Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die." We think we're hurting the other person by not forgiving, when really it's killing our own souls. Lamott writes: They say we are not punished for the sin but by the sin, and I began to feel punished by my unwillingness to forgive. By the time I decided to become one of the ones who is heavily into forgiveness, it was like trying to become a marathon runner in middle age; everything inside me either recoiled, as from a hot flame, or laughed a little too hysterically...As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, "If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start off with something easier than the Gestapo." If you have something you need to forgive, Wangerin's book As for Me and My House has a really good section on how to do this. He gives some steps - not like a recipe or a formula that make things automatic, but some useful steps nonetheless: 1. Be realistic 2. Remember your own forgiveness 3. Sacrifice your rights in prayer 4. Tell your spouse [or whoever else in you need to forgive] the sin 5. Follow words with action

source: Darryl Dash sermon on "Grace-Filled Families" tags: Forgiveness