Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making a list, Checking it twice

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. Colossians 3:13 NLT
Santa isn't the only one with a list.  One may have a grocery list, to do list, Christmas card list, kids Christmas present list, password list, email address list, honey-do list…lists, lists, lists.  Even God has lists…  Names written in the Book of Life, Battles in the Book of Wars, Ordinances in the Book of the Law, Curses written in a book, Wise sayings in the Book of Solomon, and prophesies in the Book of Visions to name a few.

There is another list that you can make this season.  It can be your Christmas gift to you.  It is a forgiveness list. The betrayal and injustices in my life leave me with two options. I can be stuck in a cycle of offense or I can begin the process of freedom. I choose freedom.

What do you think of when you hear the word forgiveness?  Forgetting? No more pain? Letting someone off the hook?  Let bygones be bygones? Unfairness?  Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood concepts of the Christian life. Some people believe that forgiveness requires us to unconditionally release others from past wrongs.  They assume we have to forgive in order to love.  Others have adopted the "I forgive you for my own sake" attitude.  It somehow releases us from the cancer of bitterness and the fire of anger.  Does this unconditional forgiveness really reap positive results?  One shudders to think of a wife offering unconditional forgiveness to an unrepentant alcoholic husband who has privately beaten her and publically humiliated her with his sexual affairs.  Is it really in his best interest for her to release him from accountability for shameless violations of the marital vows?  Forgiveness needs to be administered based on the circumstances.  Sometimes we need to forgive like Christ did on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."  Other times we need to forgive someone over and over, "70 x 7 times a day" as Christ said. Maybe some circumstances require us a withholding of forgiveness for the sake of the one who has harmed us. Hmmm, food for thought as you consider your acts of forgiveness.

Rape, adultery, murder, incest, hatred, gossip, lies. Atrocities abound in our world.  It strikes at the heart.  Life isn't fair!  Whoever said it was fair? Was life fair to Jesus when he went to the cross and suffered and died for us, the innocent for the guilty?  We will be offended. Guaranteed.  The best thing for our well-being is to start the process of a unilateral decision of forgiveness.  Feelings may follow later, much later in some cases. Forgiveness can be a complicated process.  But it is always worth the effort. This is the way of the New Rebellion.

I am writing a forgiveness list.  At the top of my paper I state:  This is under the blood of Jesus.  I won't expect feelings to be here right now yet I have forgiven _______ for: Then I date it.  I start my bullet point list.  Whenever the enemy tries to creep in and I begin to get angry over a circumstance I go to my list, check it twice and say, "I have forgiven this person on this date.  It's under the blood." If it is not on my list, I write it down under a bullet point and date it. Possibly a list like this may be the best Christmas gift you ever gave yourself.

Build in me a heart of forgiveness toward others, God,
that thrives in the ongoing joy of my own awesome forgiveness from You.

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