The first 3 R's (Repent, Renew, and Rest) are for us. This next R is for the Body of Christ,and for others. While we do benefit from it because we gain a clear conscience in being obedient, it is primarily for the Body, the church, to work and get along in relationship. We reconcile because He told us to, and because nothing shows greater ministry than humbly forgiving and seeking forgiveness. This is were the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you cannot forgive someone, then you do not understand Christ's forgiveness for you. After all, God, who is Holy, perfect, and without sin, forgave us and sent His son Jesus to die for us. How can we, who were sinful and now still do sin, NOT forgive someone else who sins? What sin can another do that wouldn't compare to our sin? Don't compare another's sin to yours; compare your sin to God's holiness. SO Christ has forgiven us, shown us, told us, and empowered us by His Spirit to forgive. There are 2 types of forgiveness: 1) Extending and 2) Seeking
To extend is an action toward another, to give to another. We are told to forgive as we have been forgiven. Let's look at Ephesians 4:32 which is the same verse that we talked about in teachings 4-6. In those teachings, we were looking at forgiveness for us, but in this teaching look at what is says for others. It tells us to forgive as you are forgiven ("...forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."). Because we are forgiven, we understand.
Colossians 2:13-15 says ALL your sins, as well as the sins of the person who has offended you, are on that cross! Colossians 3:13 again says to forgive as you have been forgiven. This verse that is for us is also for others.
Remember back in teaching #3 that we said everyone gets rejected and that all sin rejects. So now when you think and feel rejected, hurt, unloved, disrespected, dishonored, etc. we all must do something with that rejection, NO MATTER WHAT!!! Don't ignore it. Don't say, "That's just the way the person is." Don't excuse it or tolerate it. Don't think you can forget it, or that it will go away in time. Don't say, "I am not mad anymore" or "I forgave them because I don't feel mad now." Remember, you are not God! He is the judge, the only one who can forgive you and the only one who can judge the one who offended you.
Look at the diagram below. When I am the one hurt and rejected, the offended, I then hold this person guilty of hurting, rejecting, and offending me, BUT I am not the judge.
You see, when I judge someone I am acting in the wrong role and fleshly feelings will arise. Then I sin, and I am held in bondage, like in a jail cell. Bitterness follows. Hebrews 12:15 speaks of a bitter root springing up. The funny thing about the meaning of bitterness is that there must always be a hurt or offence which happens underground in our heads. No one knows but us, at least for a second or two. Then up through the ground the roots sprout into anger, bitterness, ugliness, meanness, and malice and defile many. This includes ourselves, yes, BUT usually it also affects our spouse, kids, family, friends, church, etc. The word defile means to poison. This is what happens when we do not forgive. Sin brings rejection, and rejection brings sin. Let's look at what to do when we are offended.
1. Bring offender before God in prayer. Say his/her name and what they did, and that you hold them guilty for .
2. Tell God how you truly felt, saying, "I felt disrespected by .
3. Say to God, "My sinful reactions were just as guilty as theirs, and Lord I thank you for forgiving me at the cross."
4. Make a decision to forgive. "Lord, I choose to forgive just as you forgave me." The choosing is an important part because forgiving is a direct act of your will. It is not that you can't. If you do not forgive, it is that you won't! (See diagrams below and go to "Seeking Forgiveness.")
Seeking forgiveness is when I hurt someone else, or when I am the offender. If I was to sin against my wife because I was angry, mad, or seeking revenge, then I would go back to her and SEEK her forgiveness.
Lets look at Matthew 5:23-24
v. 23 "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, v. 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
Now while this is under Jesus's earthly ministry to Israel, it can still be "for us". (This is also a perfect example of understanding the dispensation of Grace under Paul's ministry. Because if you read the next verses 25-26, if you do not reconcile, you are to be handed over to the judge and be put in prison until you repay. BUT remember the cross has not come yet and neither has Grace!)
So we see, as an example, that we are to take seeking forgiveness seriously. Just as in the teaching on extending forgiveness, we should understand for ourselves what seeking forgiveness is not. It is not blaming the other person for your sin, even if they did sin. It is not saying, "Well, if you had not rejected me, I would not have sinned." It is not saying, "I was wrong, but so were you." It is NOT acting in a shame faced, pouty, crying attitude, or trying to get the other's approval. It is not simply saying "I'm sorry," so you can move on. It is not trying to win them back for any gain.
IT IS understanding that your action was sin, and that sin is against God first. I cannot express that enough. ALL sin is against God! So first, go to God and admit your sin THANKING HIM FOR FORGIVING YOU ALREADY AT THE CROSS. Then extend forgiveness to the person as we talked about above in Extending Forgiveness (read again if necessary). Then go to the person and seek their forgiveness. You may want to wright it out, before you go.
Say the three hardest words to say, "I was wrong for (yelling, hurting, manipulating, not talking to you.....)." Then ask them for their forgiveness. Say, "Will you forgive me?" and wait for their reply. Most will say yes, but sometimes people are not ready. They still may be very emotional, or they have not forgiven you to begin with. That's ok. Ask them if you can talk again, maybe a couple of days or a week down the road, but do not let it just go. Then do it again, a second time. If the answer is "no" the second time, see if they will talk about it, then talk. BUT remember you are not doing this for approval from them; you are doing it because God said to so that the Body of Christ may be in unity. You are being obedient to God, and you are already approved by Him. Your conscience is clear. Your identity is in God and Jesus, not in others.
Seeking forgiveness is an action of your will, a choice based on your conviction of sin and/or the guilt that another may have against you. It is an action of your will, and you can do it because of the Spirit and power in you and the forgiveness you have received from God through Jesus Christ.
Some cautionary boundaries:
1. If you are seeking forgiveness from an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or anyone you sinned against in a sexual nature, go with a spouse, pastor, or friend. If you decide to call, make sure that the person knows your spouse, friend, or pastor is there.
2. Do not send a letter. They can be read by others and also misread and misunderstood.
3. You do not need to go into much detail, just enough detail to bring the person back to where the offense was. For instance, " Do you remember when ?"
If you will do these 3r 's everyday, you will grow into a mature Christian.
These are the basic foundations for maturity.
Go to R4 and Lesson 9