This is the last post in the 4 Weeks of Forgiveness Challenge, so far we have looked at:
Today I want to talk about repentance and re-learning, I kinda touched upon this in last week’s post about boundaries.
I decided to write this series not because I’m so great at forgiving others but because I have had to deal with really difficult people in my life who have hurt me and haven’t looked twice about doing so, in fact they have taken pleasure in hurting me. It has caused me to become a better person because I have had to re-visit the chinks in my armour and areas of weakness to become a more well-rounded and whole version of myself – without those experiences they wouldn’t have pulled up those weaknesses and I would not have known they existed. I would have felt more comfortable, more safe but it would only be a mirage. So in a round about way as much as those experiences have been painful and still continue to try me (like gold is refined in a fire) I am grateful for it purifying me of the dross that stops me from being all I can be.
It reminds me of the story of the good Samaritan. You know the Samaritans and the Jews had a turbulent history and Yeshua used that story as it really illustrates the power of overcoming your self to be the best person you can be.The Good Samaritan story shows us our ability to die to the flesh & become perfect in God Click To Tweet
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10: 30-37 (ESVUK)
It’s so funny how the very people who should have helped that man didn’t and the person who had the most reason to not help him did.
When I was young I equated forgiveness with forgetting, I was wrong, that was just plain dangerous but I did so because I wasn’t taught otherwise. You can be wrongly taught that the Bible says forgiveness means making that person your bestest buddy again – wrong, forgiveness isn’t about that at all.
Forgiveness says we can treat other people with love, kindness and mercy even if they haven’t repented from their actions but if they do not choose to repent we are taught by this example to help them from a distance.We called to show mercy to the unrepentant whilst keeping them at a distance. Click To Tweet
I like the use of the word neighbour here, the Bible and Yeshua here differentiates between the word brother and the word neighbour. The word brother obviously relates to someone who is close to you, they are intimately acquainted with you whereas neighbour indicates distance and walls. There are certain boundaries of personal and intimate space reserved for each group.
Yeshua didn’t say “who was a brother to him?” He said “who was a neighbour to him?”
YHWH desires us to be merciful, kind and loving to even those who hate us and curse – Yeshua called it Perfect, just like our Heavenly Father is Perfect and that’s something I know that I need lots of Grace to do everyday.
But this also addresses the issue of unrepentance. Sometimes there will be people in your life that never say sorry, never ask for forgiveness and never change their behaviour or attitude towards you, sometimes those people will be really close family members or people you can’t just cut off and that can be hard. God understands that and that’s why our definition of forgiveness has to be God’s definition not man’s. Using the example of the Samaritan I am sure that he wouldn’t have spent his day to day life hanging around with Jews because he knew how they felt about him (I’m sure he came across exceptions).
I also want to bring to your mind Yeshua’s words to His disciples when they asked Him how many times they should forgive their brother:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him,“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18: 21-22)
This wasn’t a stand alone comment but Yeshua had already told them to forgive their brother if they were repentant:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18: 15 – 17
The last part of Yeshua’s statement is about boundaries – moving someone from the status of brother to Gentile or even tax collector (neighbour or foreigner). In love we have a duty of care too to tell someone how and why they have wronged us – I know that this can be tough especially when dealing with someone close to you. But we need to tell them in order to ascertain whether they are truly a brother to us or merely a neighbour. Do wee keep them close or hold them at a distance? So although God does want us to be merciful and forgive, He wants us to do so with wisdom.
I truly hope this forgiveness series has been a blessing for you, it has been an immense blessing for to re-visit this difficult topic and begin applying these principles in my own life.