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  • Kimberly Oden

Forgiveness | Giving That Which We Have Received

React or Respond?

Forgiveness in Action

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function

regardless of the temperature of the heart.

The other day our family was discussing the horrors of the Holocaust. As we looked at pictures of the atrocities that unfolded at the leading hand of Hitler, my son asked, “How did this happen? How did people take pictures and do nothing? Did someone at least hold Hitler accountable?!!!”

He paused for a moment and then asked, “How did he die?” When he heard that the man who led the genocide of over six million Jews committed suicide, he looked incredulously at us and almost shouted, “You mean he had the privilege of taking his own life?! I would have made him suffer! I would have started by pulling his toenails out one by one!”

The thought of that made my stomach flip flop, but if I were honest there have been moments in my own life when I have shared a similar desire for justice. Just in the past week, I had a heated conversation with my husband and another with a dear friend. I left both circumstances in tears with my heart hurting deep. In the moment, when the angry words assailed, I kept thinking, “Do not react, Kimberly…choose instead to respond in the peace and love of The One who resides within…this is not the person standing before you but rather the enemy who is having his way with their emotions and they need prayer.”

I wish I could say that I continued to, “give a gentle answer that deflected anger”, but in both instances my flesh overrode the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I responded with harsh words, which in one instance DID make tempers flare all the more! (See Proverbs 15:1)

We all know that ASKING for forgiveness takes a great amount of humility. My husband likes to call it, “eating some humble pie.” :) If you think about it, however, OFFERING forgiveness requires the same degree of humility. We cannot offer that which we have not received!!! It is so easy to hop into the judgment seat only reserved for Christ and pass my judgment on to the offender who hurt my heart so deeply. In fact, the enemy L-O-V-E-S it when I do this! It means he is winning the battle against the Peace and Presence of Jesus within!

But what if in that moment when someone assails us with angry words that cut deep, when a decision is made that causes us to feel discounted, when our children disobey, when our spouse disregards us, when a driver cuts us off…what if we chose to remember from that which WE have been forgiven and extend that same forgiveness, loving the broken with the Father’s love? What if rather than giving into the wiles of the enemy who is tempting us to react, that we would choose instead to respond by pleading in prayer, asking the Father to help us to love with HIS love?

If we are honest, all offense is rooted in entitlement. We think we are all entitled to love, to honor to respect, but the bottom line is that the only thing we ALL deserve is death. All sin separates us from our high and holy God (Is 59:2; Rom 3:23) – we have ALL sinned and all sin has the same effect => separation from God. There is no degree of separation. Jesus tells us that hatred is the same as murder (Mt. 5 21-23), lust the same as adultery (Mt. 5:28), so when I hold judgment against someone for murder, it would serve me well to remember that the anger I hold in my heart towards that person is hook of sin that can yank me under the same judgment that I extend!

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2

Matthew 5:23-24 is a passage that was thee catalyst of my decision to follow Jesus fully as my Lord and Savior once and for all…it is another story for another day, but it is well worth the read and ponderance…do I hold anything in my heart against another in the form of judgment – a hurt that I might humbly extend forgiveness? Or do I need to humbly ask for forgiveness from another so that they might not hold anything in their heart?

The bottom line is that we are ALL sinners. All sin deems death, but we serve a King who died for us so that all sin might be washed clean by his blood that was shed on our behalf! (See Romans 6:23)

I am convinced that if we as parents could walk out this revelation of extending forgiveness in and through the love of Jesus that we ourselves receive, not focusing on the offender but on The One who covers the offense, that our lives would be transformed. Our children would see the grace in which we walk as we learn to lead our children by following in the footsteps of the inexplicable love and mercy of Jesus!

As I close, I offer this last morsel – my mother had the privilege of meeting Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. My mother describes this gentle soul as one loved deep despite what she endured. If anyone had a “right” to cast judgment, it would be Corrie, and yet, she is known for her tidbits of love-infused truth – divine revelation granted to a woman who aimed to live a life saturated with the love of the Father. She once said, When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. A moment of hurt can feel like a dark tunnel. The moment when we face the decision to react in anger and hurt or to respond in love is pivotal. We sacrifice our peace when we choose the former and can rest in the bedrock of security when we choose the latter. Praying for all of this today, that we might humbly remember all that we have been forgiven so that we might keep our peace as we extend that which we have undeservedly received.

Help Us To Love by Tori Kelly

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