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Monday, April 28, 2008

Some More Thoughts on Forgiveness

Last Sunday Pam and I spoke on forgiveness. It is always a challenging one for me because it is a great opportunity for the Holy Spirit to tap me up side the head with the holy 2X4 about how far I have to go in this area.

One of the things I had insight into was actually a synthesis of the speakers from the marriage conference we hosted Saturday and the things Pam and I talked about. Dr. Henry Cloud, in a bit of a throw-away statement, mentioned that research has been done on people’s “self-talk.” Self-talk is the internal conversation we have going on in our heads. Everyone has their conversations – it only gets scary when you actually see someone who isn’t there and begin talking to them! Back on point – Cloud said that research has shown that 70% of people have negative self-talk. Seven out of ten people you meet during the day are complaining to themselves most of the day! And they probably are complaining to themselves about YOU!

When it comes to forgiveness, how we talk to ourselves makes all the difference. It is really difficult (read: IMPOSSIBLE) to forgive someone you are constantly complaining about in your mind. If we have trained our mind to constantly be negative we also will find ourselves much more easily offended. And face it – negative people are more offensive to others.

Alright – here is another synthesis. Gary Smalley was talking on Saturday about his book “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.” I’ve read most of it and I was really challenged. The bottom line of Smalley’s book is we need to soak our minds in God’s truth by engaging in M&M – memorization and meditation.

Go back to the self-talk and forgiveness stuff. When we put God’s truth in our brain and constantly slosh it around between our ears, we change the way we think. When we change the way we think, we change the way we feel because emotions ALWAYS follow our thoughts. I have to be honest with you – I believe what I just said in the former sentence but I don’t like it. It puts too much responsibility on me. I want to be able to blame pretty much anything/anyone other than me for how I feel. I want my kids and my wife to be responsible for my happiness. Then I have someone to blame…other than myself.

So here is some counsel for you. If you struggle with being able to forgive, start memorizing some verses. Here are a couple of good ones to start:

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13, NIV)

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9, NIV)

I’m working on these myself. My goal isn’t to just memorize them but for them to transform my thinking (see Romans 12:1-2). To that end I have been working on memorizing the 8th chapter of Romans. Anyone want to join me?

With you in the journey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Philippians 4:8-9 comes to my mind frequently because I constantly need to be reminded of it. I stuggle tremendously with the whole forgiveness thing. It seems to come and go. I do well for quite some time and shrug things off, but soon I break down, then I pick myself back up.... yeah, I know you see the pattern here ~ I, I, I...

When you and Pam spoke of forgiveness, I thought I was gonna lose it right there at church.

I feel the trouble is that over time it wears on me when I forgive those who are unrepentant. I know you went over this (and I should listen again to the sermon) ~ it is only making me a negative person and, most destructively, it holds me back from having a closer relationship with God. Yeah, I notice it's hard to pray when I'm angry because at that point it feels like even God is against me! (Don't worry, I know He is not :)

However, I do believe that God is using this issue (and all, for that matter) in my life for me to rely solely on Him for peace. Hey, God has worked many a miracle in my life and do not question the power He has to continuously work in me for His glory.

Romans 8? I'm not very good at memorizing, but I'll do my best :)