Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thou Shalt Forgive Thy Mate--490 Times and More


Forgiveness.  That's a hard word to swallow sometimes, isn't it?  I have to admit that I'm not the best at it.  It's something that I work on daily.  This week's commandment was

Thou Shalt Forgive Thy Mate--490 Times and More

I don't know about you, but forgiveness isn't something that I just love to talk about.  And I don't think many people do talk about it.  It should be talked about, however, because God forgives me and you on a regular basis.

Ed shares, "How can we best deal with the imperfections, flaws, and sins that take place within our marriages?  The operative word has to be 'forgiveness.'  We all need to cultivate a lifestyle of forgiveness, a mind-set that forgives consistently and unconditionally."

In the Old Testament, there's an example of forgiveness that's amazing.  Hosea was asked to marry a promiscuous woman named Gomer.  They had three children and then she decided to leave after having numerous affairs.  She eventually sold herself as a prostitute, and ended up as a slave.  When the master put her up for auction, the only person who bid on her was Hosea.  I'm sure this took a lot for Hosea to do.  If you could imagine that happening to you, would you bid on your spouse to take them back?

God calls us to forgive.  In fact, in Matthew 18 it gives us the amount of times we should forgive.

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?'   Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.'"

Ed says, "Here's what happens:  If you forgive someone 490 times, somewhere around number 300 you get in the habit of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is to be habitual, a practice that becomes second nature."

**70 times 7 is 490 times.

He also says, "A marriage is not so much the union of two great lovers as it is of two great forgivers.  Great marriages are made up of two people who have committed themselves to daily forgiving one another."

That is so true!  We have to forgive each other daily for the big AND small things.  I, personally, know that forgiving is hard to do.  A little over a year ago, I started on my journey to forgiving.  I was a selfish college student, who needed to let go of her burdens.  Since then, I've been trying to let go of everything that I've been hurt by.  I'm a work-in-progress.  I'm not perfect...forgiving has always been a struggle of mine, but I'm not going to use it as an excuse.

Some people think they will never, ever be able to forgive someone who has hurt them deeply.  Some people think they will never forgive the person who abused them.  Some people think they just don't have to forgive anyone.  I'm here to tell you otherwise.

You CAN forgive that person.  It's just not a one time deal of forgiveness.  It's a day to day or month to month thing.  It's both an act and a process.

Ed gives us four reasons of why we should forgive and I'd like to share them with you.

1.  God commands us to forgive.  My parents always told us, "BYKOTA" growing up.  It stood for "Be ye kind one to another."  That comes from a verse in the Bible, though.  Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
2.  Forgiveness is part of the character of God.  He forgives us unconditionally.  We don't deserve His forgiveness, yet He gives it to us anyway.  And I don't know about you, but I think I've passed the 490 mark...I'm pretty sure that number is up there at like 4,900,000,000,000 times or more!!
3.  Forgiveness is good for us.  When we're hurt, sometimes we choose to bury that deep within ourselves.  We allow that hurt to grow and it turns into bitterness.  Before we know it, that person who hurt us, is controlling our feelings and how we act.  Only when you give that pain and hurt to God, will you be able to start the process of forgiveness.  And when you truly forgive that person, you will be free.
4.  We forgive so that we, too, will be forgiven.  When we forgive others, we are obeying God.  It is then He will forgive you, too.  The best thing about God's forgiveness?  He doesn't remember our wrongs against Him.  Psalm 103:12 says, "as far as the east is from the west,   so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

Amen.

There is SO much more in this chapter.  I encourage you to read this book!  It would seriously take me forever to write everything here.  It is good.

Questions to think about this week:
  1. In what specific areas of marriage do you have the most trouble obeying Jesus' command to forgive "seventy times seven" times?
  2. List some of the little things that you need to forgive.
  3. What usually blocks your willingness to forgive?
  4. Why would God, who is perfect in holiness, allow you into His heaven, even though you have wronged Him with your sin?



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