Learning To Forgive - Breaking the Shell
Learning to Forgive - Forgiveness is Not Inherent
Learning to forgive implies that forgiveness is a learned process, not an automatic response. Our sinful nature (our flesh) has a high resistance to laying offenses aside. It prefers to take on an offense and use the energy that the offense brings with it, in every negative way. Every part of our un-renewed mind, our carnal mind, has a preference to take on an offense and a propensity to hold grudges, and seek its own sense of justice. Within the carnal mind, retaliation is most often not an option, but rather it's a driving force, it has to get even! Our flesh, unrenewed, unbridled, lacking illumination and understanding, prefers to be judge, jury, and executioner of the offender even when that offender is our own self.
Learning to forgive - Christ Based
Learning to forgive can only be fully achieved after we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, otherwise we are simply acting according to our flesh. While we can learn to "forgive and forget" on a carnal level, as a good deed, but true forgiveness comes from the Spirit of Christ within us. Until our mind is renewed, until we are enlightened by His Holy Spirit, there remains a resistance, an enmity between us and God that will govern our every decision (Romans 12:2, Titus 3:3-5).
Learning to Forgive - Recognizing the "Old Man" Within
Learning to forgive begins with understanding what God says about forgiveness in the Bible. Part of our learning process includes becoming aware that our flesh is truly hostile to God, must be brought under authority, and re-trained. Our "old man" must be put off and a "new man" must be put on (Ephesians 4:22, 24; Colossians 3:10-25). According to Scripture, we are the ones who must put off the old and learn of God and choose His ways. Thankfully we are not left alone to make decisions on our own because God, our Father, has sent His Spirit to help us. The Spirit dwells within us and teaches us (John 14:26). God has also given us His infallible Word, the Bible to teach us how to forgive.
Learning to Forgive - A Personal Story
There was a time in my life when I was extremely angry with my father. He had, in my opinion, done something that was beyond forgiveness. I knew what the Bible said. I had been taught all the reasons why we should forgive, but the reality was that I simply did not believe that forgiveness was all-encompassing. My anger and judgment were truly taking life from me. One day I said to the Lord, "I don't believe You forgave him. I don't believe You can love him either. He has stepped over the line! If You love him and forgive him, show me and I will consider forgiving him too." My thoughts immediately were focused on an unshelled pecan. I could almost feel the hardness of the shell, but I knew that inside of that shell the fruit was soft, pliable, and delicious. As I continued to consider the unshelled pecan, I was suddenly impressed with the fact that the hard shell was representative of the shell that sin puts around us, while the fruit remains intact within the shell. It is able to bear more fruit and to feed others when the shell is removed from it.
My spirit grasped what the Lord was showing me. The shell represented my father's hardened heart and his sin-altered lifestyle. All of a sudden, I understood forgiveness and healing from God's perspective. I understood for the first time that God loved my father for who he was, not for what he had become. God saw through the shell and His love was focused on who He had created my father to be. God recognized that my father's actions were driven by sin. Luke 23:34 echoed thru my head, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
I realized that I needed to separate my father's actions from his created being and I understood that I, like Jesus, could forgive the man without excusing his actions. All of a sudden, I didn't need to consider if I would forgive my father, it wasn't even a matter of when, it was an immediate response. God used a pecan for my "learning to forgive" lesson. He completed His process in me and I learned a lasting lesson.
I pray that the next time you see an un-cracked nut, God will use that to solidify your understanding of forgiveness, just as He did for me. I encourage you to examine yourself. Ask the Lord to reveal any shell that may have formed around you and, should you sense that there is one, ask Him to break it open and help you become all He created you to be!
Understand God's Forgiveness
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