Creating Caring Communities That Transform Lives
Creating Caring Communities That Transform Lives
Creating Caring Communities That Transform Lives
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Monday, January 27, 2014 @ 8:44:00 AM - Written by Doug Hignell -

Every once in a while, God seems to radically change our thoughts in a specific area, enabling us to take one more step toward spiritual maturity and freedom. The last month or so has been one of those times in my life. I hope I'll never be the same again.

Let me explain. Think about our typical response when we're mistreated or misunderstood. We take offense. This offense can often lead to bitterness. As a minimum, it usually hinders a close relationship with that person. John Bevere has written a helpful book on this topic entitled The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. In the book, he writes that he believes Satan's primary weapon is setting up situations for people to take offense, which, in turn, drives a wedge between them. God is all about relationship and Satan is all about breaking up relationships. Relationships mirror the Trinity, and there's a synergistic effect to people working and living closely together.

What if we could walk in forgiveness as a way of life? In fact, what if we could walk in forgiveness to such a degree that we have forgiven people even before they mistreat or misunderstand us? What if our natural response was to extend grace to those who desire to harm us? I believe there is a way.

In Matthew 10, Jesus sends his disciples out on assignment to share the good news of the kingdom of God. In Matthew 10:8b, Jesus says, "Freely you have received; freely give." As I have been reading, studying and writing about grace and freedom in Christ, the Holy Spirit is slowly but surely revealing to me the extent of God's grace and His forgiveness for me personally.

When we accept Jesus and his complete work on the cross, our sins are forgiven -- our past, present, and future sins. As 1 John 2:12 says in The Message:

 "I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name."

Because of this, our only necessary response is to accept that forgiveness by accepting Jesus. As Paul Ellis writes in The Gospel in Ten Words:

"Running after forgiveness is like shopping for air. Air is free. God has already given us all the air we will ever need. You just need to open your mouth and breathe it in. It is the same with his forgiveness. Forgiveness is not something to pursue, it is something to possess, and in Christ we have it."

If we've freely received forgiveness, then forgiveness is something we should freely give away. If God doesn't take offense when we mess up, then when we walk in that forgiveness, we shouldn't take offense, either.

While I still do take offense sometimes I notice that the more fully I understand God’s free gift of forgiveness, the easier it becomes to walk into a tough situation and extend forgiveness -- even sometimes doing so before the offense happens. As strange as this may sound, if we have made a decision to pursue the same forgiveness that God extends to us, then in essence we have made a decision to forgive prior to the offense happening. This doesn't mean the offenses won't hurt. Jesus lived in a posture of forgiveness, even extending it at His point of deepest pain (see Luke 23:34), yet I'm certain His betrayal and subsequent death on the cross was excruciating. I believe that like Jesus, our capacity to forgive can become greater than our pain as we are transformed into His image. The best part is that the sooner we are able to forgive, the sooner we heal, so this is worth pressing in to.

Do you have a situation in your life in which it's been difficult for you to forgive? I encourage you to take a moment right now to thank God for the forgiveness you have received and ask His help in extending that same forgiveness to others.

This is beautiful. I struggle with forgiveness because it hard for me to let others in after an offense. It has been an uphill battle for me and I really like how you put it in perspective. Forgiveness is like air, free and all around us. Thank you for this insight.
Abby Haskell @ 11:57:00 AM 1/27/2014
Appreciate your sharing this with me in private and now in print. I hope to pick up this book and...more importantly this practice of walking in a state of gratitude for having been forgiven that transforms hurts into healing.
Wade Elliott @ 8:57:00 AM 1/30/2014

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