Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. Psalm 25:18 (NKJV)

We want to teach our children to recognize when they have done something to hurt somebody else and to apologize.  That’s part of how we teach train them to be good citizens of this world and in preparation to be citizens of the kingdom of God.  We all should know and be regretful for hurtful behavior or actions.  But we can’t force anyone to feel regret and therefore should not force anyone to apologize.

According to Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Live, “Apologizing can be a great way to make things better between children, but forcing them to do it is teaching all the wrong lessons.”[i]  The main reason why it is not good is because forced apologies don’t really change behavior and only make them feel shameful and angry.

A better option, according to Markham, is to get the child to acknowledge what their wrong has done, and help them figure out how to make changes.  As she explains, “You want to empower your child to see himself as a generous person who can make things better when he’s done something hurtful.”

Don’t simply discard the words “I’m sorry.” But if you simply get your kids to just say the words, without understanding the meaning or how to help fix what they broke, you have not really taught them to solve the bigger problem in life.   Children learn from us how to repair relationships, so make sure that when you and your child have a relationship rupture, you apologize and reconnect.

When you teach your children to recognize their wrongdoing and apologize you’re teaching them a greater lesson.  “The lesson to be taught the children is that their errors and mistakes are to be brought to Jesus in their very childhood of life. Teach them to ask His forgiveness daily for any wrong that they have done, and that Jesus does hear the simple prayer of the penitent heart, and will pardon, and receive them, just as He received the children brought to Him when He was upon earth.”[ii]

Father, help me to teach my children by example how to apologize.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/when-adele-says-hello-adorable-toddler-says-hi-right-back-t54311

[ii] White, E.G.  Child Guidance, p.494


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And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12 (NKJV)


Psychologist Geoff W. Sutton[i] writes about the barriers to forgiveness:

  1. We tried to forgive a person or an organization and missed the offense that really bothered us. In an sample of young adults, researchers have found that viewing an offender as evil was the second most powerful factor linked to unforgiveness. If we just focus on the obnoxious character of the supervisor or the generally disrespectful treatment by the organization we may have problems.  That’s why every time something reminds us of the person or the organization, we feel angry and recall many of the things we hated about the person and the job.

What’s important to remember is that forgiveness works best when we focus on a specific offense. Consider the event in light of the following: What happened? How did we suffer? How did we feel about what was done?  Sutton writes, “Let’s assume that the termination referred to above was truly unjust. Even so, the termination is the main offense that needs to be forgiven here – not the character of the supervisor or problems in the organization.”   What we need to do is to identify and forgive the specific offense.

  1. We confused an urge to repair a damaged relationship with forgiveness. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness means letting go of the hurt feelings and the desire for revenge and instead give them to God who is omniscient, omnipotent, and just. On the other hand, reconciliation means repairing a damaged relationship.

Even when a person has chosen to forgive someone, there may be no sense of that longed-for closure. Keep in mind, however, that forgiveness requires only one person, while reconciliation involves at least two people, and we cannot control the person who offended us.   Victims of abuse need to forgive, but they don’t necessarily have to reconcile with their abuser.  Don’t confusing our Christian duty to forgive with an urge to reconcile with that person.

Father God, give me wisdom and grace as I forgive my offenders.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/I-Forgave,-But-It-Doesn-t-Feel-Like-It/

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“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 (NKJV)

Psychologist Geoff W. Sutton[i] writes about the barriers to forgiveness:

  1. We didn’t close the case. Some hurts are so painful that the memories will pop up again, and it can feel like the problem never goes away. Sutton writes that in situations where we have worked through a difficult forgiveness process, a final step, “holding on to forgiveness,” can be helpful. What that means is that we take some sort of meaningful action, as if to stamp “Case Closed” on the experience.  Some type of action may serve as a reminder that you have truly dealt with the past. For instance, nailing the offense to a wooden cross, writing it on a picture of the lamb and then symbolically “sacrificing” it, or burning it and watch the smoke ascend as you release the person who hurt you into God’s hands.  In addition, you may want to add your offender to your prayer life.  Of course this is hard to do – but the ability to pray for those who have hurt us serves as a powerful marker that the old hurts are behind us. We have moved on.
  2. We tried to find a meaning in the suffering, but it didn’t make sense. Sometimes we do know the source of our suffering, and it still doesn’t make sense. Even if we can figure out the cause of a problem, our memories can lead us into can also lead us into an endless review of pain and suffering that is unresolved. If you can find a meaning in the suffering, focus on how it will help you with your future. But if the tragedy seems to make no sense, grieve the loss and release the hurt. Find a creative way to move forward, or even give of your time and resources to help people in future disasters or similar tragedies.  Forgiveness is one way God helps us rebuild our lives after a loss. Rebuilding is never easy.

Someone said that resentment is something like drinking a bottle of poison and expect that the person that hurt us will die.  On the other hand, Max Lucado stated that “Forgiveness is opening the prison door to let the captive free only to find out the prisoner was you.”

Father God, help me to release myself from the prison of resentment.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/I-Forgave,-But-It-Doesn-t-Feel-Like-It/

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Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins. Psalm 25:18 (NKJV)

Maybe we have had the confusing experience of thinking we had forgiven someone only to be reminded of the painful experience all over again. It’s already challenging to follow Jesus’ command to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Matt. 6:14-15).  So why is it that when we have forgiven the offense we still remember it and continue to feeling the pain?

It’s natural to feel hurt and angry when someone hurts us. We naturally believe that justice demands punishment and secretly, or outwardly, desire revenge.  Some avoid memories of the offense and even avoid the offender. But as time goes on, the hurt feelings become like a smoldering fire consuming us from the inside out.

As Christians we recognize the need to forgive the offense.  But there are still many barriers to achieving forgiveness. Geoff W. Sutton wrote an article in VITAL[i] for those of us who “have already forgiven an offense and/or the offender, but find themselves lured back into the struggle, wrestling with bad feelings that won’t go away.” He lists five barriers to forgiveness:

  1. We forgave out of duty before we realized how much we were hurt. Everett Worthington, of Virginia Commonwealth University, talks about the difference between decisional and emotional forgiveness, that is, forgiveness involves our thoughts and our feelings. We can and should decide to forgive out of obedience. In addition, forgiveness produces many benefits for our health and our community. We can recover from emotional hurts, but the process takes time.  So while we can make the decision to forgive, as we are commanded, we also need to pray for emotional healing and recognize that healing is not always instantaneous. Forgiveness is a part of overall spiritual growth – and spiritual growth takes time. Forgiveness, then, can be an event, but it is often a process.  Think of forgiveness more like a journey that may take some time, depending on the severity of the hurt, before we can reach complete healing.


Father God, help me to forgive and to heal, not just because you command it, but because it is best for me and my relationships.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/I-Forgave,-But-It-Doesn-t-Feel-Like-It/

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God Covers

Scripture: For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Jonah 2:3 (NKJV)


Observation: Salvation is of the Lord. The core of this prayer celebrates God’s miraculous intervention to rescue Jonah by a fish. At the end of Jonah’s prayer God spoke to the fish, which saved Jonah from drowning and vomited him up. Creatures obey the voice of God. Humans are uniquely endowed with the prerogative to say no. [Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.) (1179). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]


Application:  Jonah’s story is more interesting than any novel, TV show, or movie ever made.  It has all the drama, adventure, passion, and excitement of a modern blockbuster.  Within just a few chapters, a couple of pages, we read the life-or-death struggle of a very reluctant ministry worker and how God resolved his personal, spiritual struggle and at the same time provided the only lifeline to a people doomed to die.

Our passage for consideration is part of Jonah’s prayer which he uttered inside the fish God provided to save him from drowning in the stormy sea. That experience must have been frightening, and a little sickening.  First he is thrown out into the raging waters, at his own suggestion.  I can imagine what it must have been like, plunging into the dark, angry ocean, gasping for fresh air and instead feeling his mouth and lungs begin to fill with salty sea water, and then to feel suddenly swallowed by a large fish.  We don’t know whether the fish was just big enough for Jonah to fit inside his digestive track or even larger, as portrayed in children’s movies, for him to move around.  Either way, the stench of gastric juices, the smell, the darkness, the pressure on the ears as the fish dove into deeper, calmer waters, the sounds of a large beating heart. . . all strange, frightening sounds and a foreign environment for any person.

Jonah was obviously not unconscious during this entire ordeal.  He might have slept some of the time from sheer exhaustion, but while he was awake he had plenty of time to consider his situation, his life, and his failures.  When he finally realized what he had done, his rebellion and disobedience, he also came to recognize his love and dependence on God, and that if God had rejected him he would not just be inside the fish’s belly, he would have already been digested by it.  So he prays, a prayer of adoration, a prayer of Thanksgiving, and a prayer of surrender.  God’s grace, His billows and waves, passed over Jonah. . . God baptized him, if you please, and now God brings him out of the belly, not of his mother but of the fish, so he can enjoy a new life and a new chance at fulfilling the mission God called to.

We don’t have to go through all that drama to experience God’s love and forgiveness.  Right now, wherever we are, we can stop and allow the billows and waves of God’s love and forgiveness to cover us and our families and to renew in us His call to mission, as individual and as a family.  He is the God of a second chance. . . ask for it right now.


A Prayer You May Say: Father God, may Your love and forgiveness wash our me and over my family so that we may be renewed by Your spirit and go on to fulfill Your mission for us.

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No Condemnation

Scripture:  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

Observation:  No condemnation. The good news of the gospel is that Christ came to condemn sin, not sinners (John 3:17; Rom. 8:3). To those who believe and accept the generous provisions of the gospel and who in faith commit themselves to lives of loving obedience, Christ offers justification and freedom. There may yet be deficiencies in the believer’s character, but “when it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man’s best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit” (EGW ST June 16, 1890). For such there is no condemnation (John 3:18). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (559–560). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application:  One of the most moving stories from the life of Jesus is found in John 8.  It’s worth reviewing it today:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,  they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.  So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11 (NKJV)

The Jewish law made it clear that both the man and the woman who were caught in the act of committing adultery were to be stoned.  In this case, only the woman was brought to Jesus.  It’s clear that it was a set up on their part so they could trap Jesus with His own words.  Regardless, when they could not, with a clear conscience, stone her, Jesus pronounced those precious words, “Neither do I condemn you.”  Since then, those words still bring us comfort and hope.  The apostle Paul also echoed the same sentiment with the words of our Scriptural passage for today (Romans 8:1), so that we could live with the assurance that it is not just the woman caught in the act of committing adultery whom Jesus did not condemn but also every one of us, while sinners to the core, but in Jesus forgiven and not condemned.

If Jesus, in His purity, does not condemn us, how can we, fallible humans that we are, pretend to be more righteous than our spouse or children or parents and condemn them when they have failed, or even failed us?  May the words that come from our lips be:  “Neither do I condemn you.”

A Prayer You May Say:  father God, thank You because in Your love You do not condemn us but instead shower Your love to each of us, forgive us, and asks us to share the same forgiveness to those around us.  Help us to be more gracious, to condemn less, and love more.

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Scripture: Love. . thinks no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV

Observation: Thinketh no evil. Literally, “does not reckon the evil.” The Greek here conveys the idea of not taking into account the wrong that has been done; not reckoning, imputing, or charging the wrong to any man’s account. This is another beautiful, Christlike attribute of love. It shows that love puts the best possible construction on the behavior of others. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (782). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: The New King James version of the Bible does not convey completely what the words of this verse really say or what Paul evidently intended to say. Here’s a sample of several other versions or translations:
English Standard Version: Love. . . is not resentful (does not count up wrongdoing).
New American Standard Bible (1995 update): Does not take into account a wrong suffered.
New International Version (1984): It keeps no record of wrongs.
The Message: Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.
God’s Word Translation: It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.

The apostle Peter must have thought he would impress Jesus with his piety by asking Him, “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’” (Matthew 18:21, NKJV). He must have been taken back when Jesus responded, “Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (vs.22). Simple math will tells us that seventy times seven equals 490. Some may point aout that the original Greek language is somewhat ambiguous so that it could be translated as seventy-seven times, which is a lot better than 490. Even then, however, that is a lot of times. Did Jesus really mean we should forgive the same person that many times after they have hurt us? Who can possibly continue to forgive that many times without being taken advantage of, or even abused?

The SDA Bible Commentary explains: “Of course, the number itself is not important, being only symbolic. Either number is in harmony with the truth here taught, that forgiveness is not a matter of mathematics or legal regulations, but an attitude. He who harbors within himself the idea that at some future time he will not forgive, is far from extending true forgiveness even though he may go through the form of forgiving. If the spirit of forgiveness actuates the heart, a person will be as ready to forgive a repentant soul the eighth time as the first time, or the 491st time as the eighth. True forgiveness is not limited by numbers; furthermore, it is not the act that counts, but the spirit that prompts the act. “Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit” (COL 251). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 5. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (449). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Paul and Jesus agree: Love does not keep record of wrongs, it does not hold on to resentment, it does not count up to 77 or 490 times to forgive. Love forgives and removes the desire to punish or hurt the other and accounts them as if they had never harm them before, the same way God forgives us and does not hold our past sin against us ever again. Love and forgiveness are sure a much better option to resentment and hatred in our marriages.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, bless us that we may have a loving, forgiving spirit toward one another so that harmony, peace, and love may reign in our home.

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