Saturday, April 28, 2012
Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. ~Paul in his letter to the church in Colossae
The other morning God and I were talking about forgiveness and the dangers of unforgiveness. There were a couple of people in my life that were brought to mind that have a tendency to hang on to unforgiveness. Many times you can see the tendrils of the root of bitterness that grows out of dormant unforgiveness, offenses are picked up without even realizing they are there and these feed that root.One of the key things that He was showing me was that forgiveness needs to be unconditional, just as He forgives us we need to forgive others. When we do something and we go to Him and ask for forgiveness, He doesn’t say: “No, I’m not ready yet” or “I need to process it first” or “My feelings are still hurt so you have to wait until I feel better.” 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And in Romans 5:8 Paul says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
When you look at how we were forgiven and the lack of conditions that are set upon us to receive forgiveness from Jesus, it sheds a whole new light on what it means to die to self. We are called to demonstrate and be a reflection of His love and to pour out the same grace and mercy that poured out on us. He demonstrated His love by dying for us on the cross so that we could enter back into relationship with Him. Sometimes, we need to set ourselves aside, are to live by faith and not be feeling. Our feelings while valid will lie to us and keep us from doing what we are supposed to be doing. I’m sure if Jesus let feelings be His compass when it came to forgiving, we would all be in trouble. But imagine if He let feelings guide His ability to forgive on the day He went to the cross. He is hanging there nailed to the cross beaten and bloody and the guy hanging next to Him recognizes Him for who He is and asks to be remembered when He gets to His Kingdom. Jesus didn’t say “you know I have had a really bad day today, they took My clothes, pushed this crown of thorns down into My head, beat Me and nailed Me to this cross. I really don’t feel like forgiving you for your sins right now, I think I’ve had enough for one day.” Instead He turns to him and says “Surely this day you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus didn’t say: “I need to heal some first, you know you are part of the reason I’m hanging here, or I think you need to suffer in your guilt for a while.” He said, “I forgive you.”I think that one of the things God was showing me in this is that forgiveness and healing are two separate processes. Forgiveness is not dependent on healing; however, healing is fully dependent on forgiveness. Forgiveness is a key to release healing, sometimes miraculous healing, but definitely complete healing.
Some say that “time heals all wounds”, in fact I used to say that too. But I don’t really think that is true anymore. I do believe that sometimes healing can take some time to complete and that with time pain subsides making it easier to get through the healing process.But when we leave wounds unattended or un-dealt with then what we usually end up with is an ugly mass of scar tissue. This scar tissue gives the appearance of healing that happened, but the underlying wound starts getting infected and festers. This wounded area becomes tender and sensitive, sometimes when its touched it causes you to lash out because the pain returns and the memory invoked brings you back to the original time of being wounded. What happens is this underlying gunk will eventually want to find its way out. Sometimes that manifests itself in something ugly like cancer or some other life stealing disease.
I have an example of this; a few years back I was working with wood and got a pretty nasty sliver in my hand. I dug in and got what I thought was the entire sliver. After some time the areas healed and I didn’t think about it much, but every once in a while I would hit that area on something and it would hurt a little. Being the tough guy I never really wanted to address what was causing the pain just kept going knowing it would stop soon. After a few months, I had a growth start on my hand it looked kind of like a wart. I figured that was the source of the discomfort having forgotten about the sliver. Again being a guy as this thing kept growing and becoming more obnoxious I started digging at it with my knife to see if I could get rid of it. Then I noticed at the center there was something that looked different than the skin around it so I started to squeeze and out popped a chunk of wood and a bunch of pus. I proceeded to properly clean the wound and now you can’t even see a scar where it happened. I had come to realize that my body knew that chunk of wood didn’t belong in my hand and since I hadn’t dealt with it properly, it rejected it and forced it to the surface.That’s what happens with us when we allow offenses, hurt feelings and unforgiveness to lay dormant in us. It starts to fester and our spirit knows it isn’t supposed to be there and will do things to bring it to the surface, but usually don’t want to deal with it so we let more scar tissue build up. Then it crops up as something else, and many times the source of it is never found, because we spend so much time trying to find physical means to bring healing to spiritual wounds.
There are two main keys to getting healed:
1. Forgiveness – Remembering that we don’t forgive out of feeling, we do it out of obedience following the example and model that Jesus gave us.
2. Being open and vulnerable to the Holy Spirit. We need to allow the Great Physician to come in and do His job. We need to let Him do whatever needs to be done to bring about complete healing. Sometimes with old wounds that can be painful. It can involve cutting away the old scar tissue or dead skin, maybe re-breaking a bone to have it set properly and made functional again. Sometimes in this process He will use other people to help, guide and support you. But the deepest cleaning happens when you let Him go as deep as He needs to go to get at the root, to bring complete and total healing.