Blog: November 2011

 

Forgiveness is a process

Posted in: Forgiveness | By: Dean Smith
November 8, 2011

Lately, as I’ve been speaking to churches, groups, and individuals about forgiveness, there’s one topic  that seems to be especially grabbing their attention: Forgiveness is a process.

Go figure! A person cannot simply and fully forgive "everyone for everything", and then happily sit in their rocking chair on the front porch while drinking iced tea as if nothing ever happened. I guess the question is, “How do you know you’ve truly forgiven someone?”  Here are some of the answers I’ve received in the past:

·         When you don’t think about getting revenge anymore.
·         When you’re not mad anymore.
·         When you can be in the same room.
·         When you can be nice to them.

What do you think?
We know the bible tells us to forgive, but when do we know we’ve actually done it?

Jesus says it this way, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV) Jesus is saying that your forgiveness isn’t done when you’re not angry anymore. Surrendering to God and allowing Him to heal you of your anger is a fabulously great beginning in the forgiveness process, but still, it's just the beginning.  Real forgiveness will result in real love. Real love is active and will find ways to be a blessing when extended in appropriate ways.  When Jesus shares the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), He shows us how God not only forgives us (to the point of not being angry) but how He completely restores us and blesses us.

We are not only commanded to forgive, we are commanded to love. The coolest thing about this is that God will give us the strength and ability to do both! The greatest blessings and testimonies from my own life have come because I've surrendered my anger and resentment to God, and allowed His love to move both in me and through me. This has enabled me to truly bless the very people who initially had offended me.
Because God’s love for us never seizes and never diminishes, our forgiveness and the process that transforms it into love should never stop either. Please know that by allowing God to help you love your “enemy”, it may very well lead you to some of the most profound blessings, not to mention the greatest testimonies you can one day share, as well.

Lastly, always remember that when you love someone, the key is to love them appropriately. Love looks different based on the relationship, the sin against you, the level of repentance the other person shows, and the unique circumstances at hand. Appropriately loving someone may mean simply praying for them, while other times it may mean connecting with them in writing, in person, or by voice. It’s critical to be lead, so listen to God during this part of the process. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, and be sure to listen to that small, still voice inside of you, in determining the appropriate way to love someone whom you are in the process of forgiving.

*To learn more about the in-depth, step-by-step process of forgiveness, and beginning your own personal journey to freedom and being yoke-free, look for the Live to Forgive Bible Study, coming soon! E-mail Dean if you would like to be added to the waiting list for this bondage-breaking system of forgiveness, which will help you to set yourself free and deliver you of the burden of unforgiveness.

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A Forgiveness Community

Posted in: Forgiveness | By: Dean Smith
September 22, 2011

For those that don’t know, though I am one of the pastors at a church in Seattle, I live nearly an hour away from that church in a small farming community.  Recently, our community suffered a great loss when a man murdered his wife and then committed suicide. This tragedy affected the entire town, but none more than the two surviving children. Though I’ve had the privilege of mentoring the 13 year old son who was left behind, I’ve been told that some family and friends are saying they could never offer forgiveness in this situation. 

Forgiveness is God’s solution to a problem He calls sin.
If we deal with sin in this world in any other way than forgiveness, then we will find ourselves sinking into more sin, more misery, more tainted relationships, and an overall lack of peace and joy. Not to mention, both passing the methodology of bitterness onto our offspring as well as throughout our sphere of influence.

This weekend the movie, “Live To Forgive” is going to be screened in my home town several times. There may be hundreds of people attending the showings who are still freshly grappling with the recent tragedy and their accompanying emotions. We believe the movie will give them encouragement and hope, realizing that:

  • “Forgiveness sets a prisoner free, only to realize the prisoner was us.”  (Matthew 18:34-35)
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting the events, but instead; allowing God to heal your heart and mind from the bitterness, rage, and anger associated with the events.
  • Forgiveness is God’s will for your life, and His will always works out His best for you.
  • The best way to honor those who have passed, is by forgiving the offenders and living a life full and free from any poisonous thoughts of hatred or revenge. What seems impossible (like forgiving a murderer), is possible with God.

After this weekend my hope is that we can get closer to becoming a community that is committed to forgiving anyone for anything, all the time, while knowing that forgiveness is God’s solution to the problem He calls sin. This will free us from the burden of unforgiveness and release us to love ourselves and others to our highest potential. Interestingly, that is what Jesus said is the most important thing of all!
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Live at peace with everyone

Posted in: Romans | By: Dean Smith
August 2, 2011

Romans 12:18 (NIV)
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
This scripture seems so simple, yet to apply it in real time and to our real relationships can be quite challenging. It puts the total responsibility of effort onto the person reading it. Since you just read it, guess what? You have now been officially challenged by the word of God to go well past your comfort zone to forgive and love appropriately.
 
How far is “as far as it depends on you?” Well, a couple verses later it reads, “On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21). 
The point that the apostle Paul is making in this scripture is that sometimes the wisest and most helpful thing to do may also be the toughest… blessing the person who bugs the heck out of you. 
It is my experience that very few people operate in the “as far as depends on you”, but instead, operate in the “as long as it’s easy and comfortable.” We can’t make someone live at peace with us, but we can be a reflection of Christ by forgiving and loving them (appropriately). This may be as small a thing as a kind email coupled with a sincere prayer for the person. It may be as much as blessing them in some unexpected way and apologizing for your part.
 
As the scripture continues, we learn that the thing that may bring a person to repentance and reconciliation is by blessing those whom you really feel are at fault. You are essentially, “overcoming evil with good.”
Today, l challenge you to live in the, “as far as it depends on you”! Don’t expect anything in return from another person and just simply go forward where “it is possible” and let the love of Christ in you, seep into your relationships. Today, choose to live at peace with everyone! (Even if they bug the heck out of you!)
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