Forgiveness What It Is, What It Is Not and Why Do It
by Marijo Phelps 12/19/2009 / Bible Studies
My friend and I were having tea at the kitchen table and she looked into my eyes and began her story.
"My mum brought her boyfriend home when I was 17 and still a virgin she, she was drunk and she let him rape meI got pregnant and then lost the baby. I have never been able to forgive my mum.."
I got out of my chair and went to hug her with tears streaming down my face. A mother who is supposed to be a place of safety, the teacher, the comforter of her children, the example. I simply couldn't understand. We were both sobbing as I prayed and asked the Lord Jesus to comfort and draw my friend ever so close to Him. I just held her and let her cry and was saying "I am SO sorry, I am so sorry."
Their relationship has been rocky over the years. Her mum is still an alcoholic and taking many things out on those around her. She is really negative about the Lord and the fact that my friend calls Jesus her savior.
After that time, when we were back to writing to each other, we'd talk about forgiveness.
We discussed about how it is not a warm fuzzy feeling but an act of your will to choose to forgive.
We talked about some of the reasons you should choose to forgive:
*bitterness coming from unforgiveness eats away at the person who holds it
*unforgiveness breaks God's heart
*we might initially forgive in obedience to God
*by forgiving we release that person to the Lord to deal with
*forgiveness is freedom to the one giving the forgiveness
*to forgive frees one from the enemy
We also discussed what forgiveness is not:
*it is not necessarily giving our trust to that person, trust needs to be earned
*it is not an act leading to becoming friends again, although that could happen
*it is not a feeling, although feelings may follow; it is an act of our will.
Forgiveness can also come in stages maybe because the Lord knows we can only handle so much at one time. It is not uncommon to sense "I thought I had forgiven that person so what's this then?" That might not mean you haven't forgiven, only that there is more to the ongoing process, a further relinquishing and letting go.
Some of the best mental health examples and solutions are spoken of in the Bible. I am listing them in two versions for those who would like something in more modern English than King James.
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (KJV)
For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"[a]and again, "The Lord will judge his people." (NIV)
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath (KJV)
"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry (NIV)
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (NIV)
With regards to Mark 11:25, it is like the law of gravity in a way. It is either functional or it is not. With forgiveness, if it isn't functional on a horizontal level in our lives with us forgiving others then apparently it isn't functional on a vertical level with us obtaining forgiveness from God. Perhaps it is something like electricity and the switch being off. That is not a place where I'd want to find myself.
Several years went by and my friend was looking at representations of Jesus during the crucifixion and the Holy Spirit began to move on her about forgiving her mum, she was able to. Her depression lessened and she sensed a freedom she hadn't known. Her mum is still an alcoholic who is hateful to Christians, including her own daughter. They haven't become bosom buddies but there is a liberty in my friend. Though her mother is in her 80s she could still come to Jesus and that is just what I am praying for.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.
Saved by His grace in 1974, from 9 years of professing atheism into His loving arms. RN for 23 years, missionary with YWAM then statistical analyst for Every Home for Christ over 9 years. Living with my husband in the middle of a mountain meadow. GRIN! Wanting to spread the good news