Forgive or Forget

We often talk about forgiving others because it is the Christian thing to do, but what are we accomplishing if the other party will not ask for forgiveness?  Here is where the water gets a little muddy for some folks.  How many times in your life have you been quiet when you witness a sin caused by another believer? Especially if it is against you! Do you forgive, or do you just try to forget, thinking surely this will go away.  But then later you find this nagging ache within you, remembering, developing anger or bitterness possibly.   Let me share something from Scripture: “Since you put away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”  Ephesians 4: 25-32   Now this scripture tells us to speak truth, forgive, and to not be angry or bitter with another. That can only happen if we face  the truth and speak truth in love, and allow the Spirit to speak peace through us and to speak forgiveness through us, even when it is not asked for. Forgiving another, clears our own hearts from the bitterness, anger and resentment that builds when we don’t forgive, when we don’t forget. I’m glad that God forgives us in Christ, before we even ask for it. We ask to alert our own consciences of what we are harboring, and to learn humility before God. So the next time you have had someone do something against you that causes you anger, or resentment, face this as the believer that you are, then speak truth to that person, revealing the attitude of Christ that is to be in us also.  When we pray about the situation, and surrender ourselves to the Spirit to speak, He will speak truth through us in love, and will forgive another, even before asked. Then if they don’t want your forgiveness, or become angry, you will have gotten rid of all anger from your own heart, and continue to speak peace. Then even if the old resentments want to raise their heads again, you can thank God for His willingness to show you the weakness of your own flesh, and the desire to live by the Spirit, and then you can put that resentment back in your pocket.  Each time it resurfaces is another reason to thank God for His matchless grace.  You will find that you are not responsible for the way the other party accepts or does not accept forgiveness. You are only responsible for how you act toward them, and how you respond to them. Always speak the truth! Always pray before speaking! Always surrender to the Holy Spirit, and let Him tell you what to say, and how to respond.  Galatians 6:1-2 tells it best: “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  And the law of Christ is to love one another. Pastor Andy

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