Friday, February 17, 2017

Forgiving the Great Offender

To this day I don’t know how she got my home number, but gather her aunt was involved with the whole thing.  Something was brewing in Barbara’s mind, but I didn’t have a clue to what it was.  

It was summertime when Barbara finally called begging to meet for a counseling session at our home.  This was something that I didn’t do, but since we knew her family, reluctantly I agreed to her urgent request.  Of course it triggered my husband to question my sanity, “What were you thinking?  Are YOU nuts?” 

Around 2 o’clock p.m. my new client knocked on our door.  Her whole demeanor was unsettling and I could sense her uneasiness.  My husband made himself scare to fetch us some tea, while I welcomed Barbara into the foyer and directed her to the library where we could talk without distraction. 

Walking into the room she scanned the area before taking a seat on the beige loveseat placing her handbag on the floor next to her foot. Closing the door behind us I sat across the room waiting for Barbara’s next move. I can tell you I was just as uncomfortable not being privy to the actual matter of the visit, and made sure I could make a dash for the door if needed. 

Taking notes I observed attentively, watching the body language of this stranger who had somehow finagled an invitation into my home.  I listened as she went from subject to subject speaking gibberish about people, places and events of who knows what that took place in her life so many years ago.  

Nearly an hour into our session she said something that redirected my questioning leading me to understand what was wrong and why God sent her here.                                                                
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 Offense Part 2

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Dead Silence 

For the next hour Barbara talked about her family but mainly focused on her father as she sipped tea between accusations.  Every time his name was mentioned in the conversation she became angry and her tone would change. 

Listing all the things that “Daddy” did, her voice began to rise with a little inflection. It was clear that more emotions were about to kick in any second, and they did. 

When I began lacing questions throughout her insinuations Barbara broke down and began to cry.   

“Have you ever discussed how you feel with your father?”  

“No, I could never do that.”  

Taking advantage of the tissue box resting on the end table, she pulled one out wiping the tears from her cheeks as she sobbed uncontrollably. 

“After all these years, why do you feel you couldn’t talk with your father and tell him how you feel concerning all the things you mentioned?” 

Standing up as to take offense over what I suggested, with her voice rising to a shout she announced, 

“He’s dead!  He’ll never know what he did to me!” 

Okay then, I didn't see that coming, but immediately I knew what to do and excused myself from the room assuring her I’d be back in a minute. 

Gone but Not Forgotten 

For the past fifty years Barbara was harboring feelings concerning the animosity she felt toward her father.  She couldn’t deal with the things that her Dad did to her, and it caused chaos in every male relationship she had her entire life.  

This woman couldn’t forgive and even though “Daddy” was gone, the emotional torment drove her to do unkind, senseless things due to her bitterness and hatred.  What this lady needed to do was direct the conversation she was having with me toward her father, the fact that he was deceased wasn’t the problem. 

Making a quick appearance in the living room to fetch a few chairs hubby asked if I was okay. Hearing how loud it got he wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but reminded me he was right there if I needed help.  “Aren’t you kind” … For some reason whenever I say that it comes out in a British accent!

I returned to the library toting a folding chair under each arm and positioned them facing each other in the middle of the room.  We were already into the second hour and who knew how long this would take, but I was determined to help Barbara have the conversation she needed to have in order to heal emotionally and spiritually. 

Daddy may be gone and his voice silent, but he certainly wasn’t forgotten and in a matter of minutes there would be someone else in the room besides me. 

… and then there were three.

 “What are you doing?” Barbara asked as I took her arm leading her to the folding chair in the center of the room. 

“Sit down. You’re about to have this conversation with your father.” I instructed.  “Now picture your father sitting in this chair (the one directly facing her).  Tell him what you’ve been sharing with me.” 

“But I can’t. What should I say?” 

“Just start talking … ask him the same questions you asked me.  Go ahead.  Don’t look at me, look at him.” 

Right then I imagined Barbara thought I should be the one sitting on the couch, but she did as I asked although it sounded strange to her. 

I moved to the side of the room behind her and out of sight so that she would feel more comfortable in the conversation she was about to have with “Daddy”.  At first Barbara was soft spoken as if she was a child approaching her father apprehensively.   

Not long into her open discussion Barbara’s one sided conversation took a turn and all of a sudden the father was sitting on a judgment seat.  She stood and became bolder in her legal eagle line of questioning, rattling off one after another.  If you didn’t know better anyone outside the door would swear someone else was in the room. 

Another hour went by and I didn’t intervene but watched as Barbara got up and down from her seat.  She circled the other chair always facing it as if she could actually see her father. In between sentences she would pause and listen before redirecting her question.  The courtroom was in session and “Daddy” was being virtually grilled on all sides. 

The Battle is Over 

It was around 5:45 p.m. when Barbara’s conversation with her father began coming to a close.  Her voice was calming and the time between speaking became farther apart.  Then she sat down and faced him not saying anything. 

With a deep breath she sighed and stopped fighting; Barbara had not only made her peace with her father, but she was able to forgive him. The battle was over, and the victory was won. 

Carrying the Burden of Offense 

You know, learning to blame someone else for how our lives turn out isn’t new for human beings.  It began back in the book of Genesis with the seed God planted in the form of man. Something happened though and the seed became corrupt – man sinned against God. 

Last week when my husband and I were talking about grudges people hold, God brought this account that happened back in 2002 to my attention.  As I researched to see how it related to what we’re studying I read passages in the Bible that dealt with the spirit of offense and broken relationships. 

Jesus discussed two specific areas of offense and what we are to do.  Matthew 5 (verse 23) tells us what to do when we’re the ones doing the offending.  At that time it was written to Jewish speaking people who followed the Law of Moses (see Leviticus).  

They came with their sacrifice to the altar for the penalty of sin.  We no longer have to do that because Jesus became our sacrifice paying the penalty for sin with His life.  Now we come before the Lord in prayer which was made available upon the sacrifice of Christ. 

This week however we’re talking about another kind of offense; Matthew 18 (verses 21-35) deals with what to do when we’re the offended.  In both cases it’s our move and the answer is always forgiveness. 

When we continue to be offended we in a sense look for someone to blame for the reasons we sin against the Lord.  As we read in Barbara’s situation, holding a grudge is a burden that hurts the carrier, not the other person who may not even know there is a problem.  Although we are to carry one another’s burdens, there’s no scripture to validate carrying grudges or offenses.   

If we don’t deal with it we’ll continue to blame and carry the seeds of a sinners grudge to our grave.  God wants us to acknowledge it, deal with what we’ve done and confront it so that we can put the thing to rest forever.   

What if I was offended? 

Let’s suppose you were totally innocent of something that happened to you. What does Jesus say about that?  The Apostle Peter wondered the same thing when he asked the Lord, “How many times do I have to forgive someone?” 

I think the disciple was feeling pretty generous when he suggests forgiving a person seven times.  Can you image his shock when Jesus said 70 x 7 or 490 times? In other words Jesus meant an infinite number of times.  How often, every time, all the time … continue to forgive.  

Why would Christ make such outlandish requests of us when it comes to forgiveness?  Grace … it’s because of God’s grace, unmerited favor that He bestows on us each and every day. 

Show No Mercy – Receive No Mercy 

Continuing down chapter 18 in Matthew, Jesus tells of how refusing to forgive is not showing mercy to another.  In the account the man who didn’t forgive a debt was sent to prison to be tortured because of his lack of mercy. 

The king was outraged by the wicked slave and charging, “You should have demonstrated mercy showing compassionate favor the way I did with you”.  In anger the king declared that he be turned over to the torturers. 

The New Living Translation says it like this: 

“Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said,
 You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt
 because you pleaded with me. 

Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant,
 just as I had mercy on you?” 

Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 

“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
(Matthew 18:21-35 NLT) 

Mercy is given when an individual doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but because of compassion it is given anyway.  We are to show others mercy from our heart just as God did with us when He received us as His children.  That’s where forgiveness really happens. 

Delivered to the Tormentors 

It wasn’t a mistake choosing specific terminology to set the scene of what that man would face when he was sent to prison.  The word tormentors literally means: to be tortured physically and emotionally; to be turned over to those who will torture.  

Have you felt such rage and animosity that it feels like a form of torture that plagues your every waking moment?  Do you over react and harbor resentment holding onto a grudge which causes you to spiral into a cycle of emotions?  If so, then you are being held captive by tormentors who are torturing your mind so much that it’s affecting you physically. 

Perhaps like Barbara you tried to find ways to deal with the resentment, hatred and bitterness against someone through seeking biblical counsel.  It’s a good place to start, but it won’t solve the problem no matter how good the advice you receive.  Until you can bring yourself to deal with the resentment, you will live in torture emotionally and never heal.  
I know some people are difficult to get along with no matter who they are around, and often it’s because they’re dealing with some form of resentment, hatred, jealousy or unforgiveness in their own lives.  It’s like an acid that eats away at you, and until you fully forgive another for an offense you will not be released from the tortures.   

You know it’s time to make things right.  In some cases like Barbara’s, even death didn’t stop her torment.  The mind doesn’t let it go.  Is there someone you need to forgive even though they are gone or moved out of your life? You need to release them because God has forgiven you more times than you can count.  It’s your move. 

Not to forgive will allow the torturers to live on and continue stealing your peace.  You cannot see what is happening, but it’s destroying you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a person with great authority, a minister, homemaker or dirt digger, not to forgive what God has said is forgiven, is a sin and Christians are to have no part of it.  
7 Reasons Why We Should Forgive 

There are so many ways why we need to forgive but I’ll emphasize these seven reasons.   

1 – We’ve learned that when we don’t we are held captive emotionally and tormented by things that were or could have been different. 

2 – Forgiveness is a form of spiritual freedom that brings peace helping us to live physically and emotionally strong.   

3 – When we forgive we are acting as a Christ image bearer being compassionate, loving and merciful as He is. 

4 – God will show favor and mercy on those who forgive others. 

5 – When we do as Christ asks in forgiving others we fulfill scripture, therefore we do the Will of God. 

6 – God hears our prayers and opens doors for our vision. 

7 – Most of all, when we forgive we restore our relationship with the Heavenly Father to show that we love Him as He first loved us.

This Week’s Challenge:
Forgiving the Great Offender

Is there anyone in your life that you have to make things right with, whether you have offended them like in Matthew 5 or they offended you as in Matthew 18? 

Some of you may need to forgive an ex-spouse, sibling, your own child, a former co-worker or boss … whoever it is, deal with it.  Maybe there are several people and you are on both sides of the list as the offended and offender … as Jesus said, ‘go” take care of the matter. 

Until our hearts are cleansed and free from all unrighteousness, (bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and offense) we will never be given the go ahead from God to live out our vision.  Without the act of forgiveness, the “favor” of God fountain of blessings will literally be cut off from our lives. 

Our challenge this week is to determine that from this point on we are releasing this feeling of offense and choose to forgive.  We will make the choice to live in peace and not remain turned over to the torturers. 

We all know unforgiving people are hard to live with; they don’t make friends easily and create turmoil wherever they go causing barriers to form between family, friends and neighbors.  The call on their lives is shortened, because they haven’t acted on the Word of God to forgive as Jesus did them.  They refuse to forgive and therefore continue to offend making new offenses along their path. 

It’s your call whether you act or hesitate to forgive any offenses in your life.  Not to forgive is an act of rebellion against God, and we certainly don’t want to go that route.  Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for the strength you need to lay this offense down at the Master’s feet.

Come to terms with what you are harboring in your heart and deal with it now before it’s too late.  Stop thinking how hard this is going to be … remembering the cross.  Jesus became sin when He knew no sin, because of His love for us.   

Determine to form a new habit and not blame others when you have the power to get rid of the problem by forgiving.  Stop planting offensive grudge seeds; start living blessed as God planned for your life. 

Real forgiveness is a true act of love. In return you will live in harmony with others and new doors of favor will be opened unto you. 

“And he said, “O Lord, if it is true that I have found favor with You, then please travel with us (on this earthly journey). Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as Your own special possession.”
(Exodus 34:9 NLT emphasis mine) 

The most Christ-like thing we can do is to forgive.  Praise God, His mercy – unmerited loving favor, endures forever.   

His Love Endures Forever by Chris Tomlin

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Until next time, give favor by showing mercy in forgiveness!

“Forgiveness is an act of mercy I favor.”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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Breaking the Cycle of Offense by Dr. Larry Ollison on Daily Favor Blog

Breaking the Cycle of Offense by Dr. Larry Ollison

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Scripture references provided by Gateway Bible in the New King James Bible Version or as noted. 
Forgiving the Great Offender, Deserting Offense, How to Deal with Offense, Daily Favor Blog, Daily Favor Prayer, Favored1, Favor of God, Forgiveness, Vision, Christian Living, Chris Tomlin.

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