Forgiveness

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Last Sunday I was given the opportunity to speak on forgiveness at H2O Church Orlando. I was glad to do so, but I must confess this is something struggle with… a lot.

I don’t find that it is difficult for me to forgive others, as much as I have a very difficult time forgiving myself.

What I have a hard time with is overcoming and moving beyond the terrible mistakes I have made and the hurt I have caused. That’s really the kicker for me… the hurt I have caused. In general I recognize I’m a screw up, in the sense that I am a sinful, fallen human being who needs the grace of God in huge God-sized way. Knowing that is my nature so to speak, I have accepted the fact that I will screw up, make mistakes and let people down.

What is hard for me is the hurt I cause… knowing those who love me have been let down by me. To see the hurt in their eyes, to know that I am the cause of their pain, I’m the one who did it, I let them down, they are hurting because of me. Not cool.

Because of the hurt I know I have caused to others, especially those I love deeply, it is hard for me to forgive myself. I can’t let go. I can’t move on. I can’t get past my own mistakes to become someone difference, someone who doesn’t let them down. This begins to affect the rest of my relationship with them.

When I am unable to forgive myself I hover dangerously close to depression. At the very least I begin to exhibit depression-like attitudes, mindsets and feelings. For me, this is expressed through anger… which tends to be the primary way I hurt people anyway. Nice.

One of the things I have been desperately and actively working on over the last while is forgiving myself. Recognizing that to move on, I have to forgive myself.

God has.

Am I suggesting that God has somehow made a mistake? That he shouldn’t have forgiven me? That he was wrong in offering forgiveness to scum like me? If I am saying that I continue in my sin and place myself above and over his authority in my life.

Is that really what I want to say?

Do I really want to throw God of the the throne again?

If God can forgive me, why can’t I? If God can love me, why can’t I? I mean the sins I have committed against God are greater than the sins I’ve committed against myself.

I would say I am able to forgive myself these days. I still struggle. But overall, I am able to forgive and move on. What has really helped me is grasping and understanding how big God’s forgiveness is.

During my message last week at H2O I showed a video (the sound didn’t work when I showed it & that significantly distracted from its effectiveness) that comes from a sermon Matt Chandler gave on forgiveness and I think it deftly illustrates some critical truths about forgiveness and how God views us in light of it.

I also shared some insights that Mark Driscoll shared in a sermon on the same passage of Scripture I was teaching from. He outlined 7 things forgiveness is and 7 things it isn’t. I thought these were very helpful in identifying how essential forgiveness is in our lives. If we better understand what forgiveness is & isn’t we are better equipped to apply it in our lives.

7 Things Forgiveness is:
1. Canceling a debt owed to you
2. Removing the control of the offender has over you
3. Giving a gift to yourself and the offender (you can move on)
4. Forsaking revenge
5. Leaving ultimate justice in God’s hands
6. An on-going process
7. Wanting good for your offender
7 Things Forgiveness isn’t:
1. Denying sin occurred or diminishing its evil
2. Enabling sin
3. Not necessarily a response to an apology
4. Covering up for crimes committed against us
5. Forgetting (we don’t need to forgive & forget)
6. Trust (trust isn’t instantly rebuilt)
7. Reconciliation (it is an invitation for reconciliation)

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