Thursday, November 20, 2008

Love Dare - Day 25: Love Forgives

This is probably the hardest day in our journey. And it is also one of the most vital days in our journey. Love Forgives - How about YOUR love ... does IT forgive?

"What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ." - 2 Corinthians 2:10

In the Love Dare book there is an illustration of what unforgiveness does to our heart. Imagine that you find yourself in a prison. You look all around you and see cell after cell after cell. And in those cells you see people you know - some you have loved and others you have, well, NOT loved. They all share one thing in common - they have hurt you. As you walk along the line of cells and look inside at the faces of those held captive, you find your blood beginning to boil as you relive each and every hurt. You also feel a little more betrayed with each cell because each one holds someone that you held a little more dear than the last. What started off as kids in school and co-workers soon became old crushes, friends, siblings, parents and even your spouse. At the end of the row you see Jesus. In His hand He holds the key to every cell, which He offers to you. You are being given the chance to free them all from their captivity. But you refuse that chance. You feel that they deserve what they are being given - they deserve their captivity! You decide to let them rot...

Only thing is, they are not the only ones locked up. You realize that YOU are in the prison with them. And YOUR cell looks out over all of theirs. So, not only are you in prison too, you have to face all of THEM on top of everything else. You had the chance to set them free and instead placed yourself in that prison with them.

Welcome to unforgiveness.

The Bible tells a tale of a slave who is brought to task regarding his debts to the master. He cannot pay - there is no way - and he begs the master to forgive him. The master does forgive - he graciously releases the slave from an enormous debt. The forgiven slave then leaves and finds another man who owes HIM money - a small amount, but still, the dept is there. He demands payment and, when the second man cannot pay, he demands punishment. The master hears of this and calls the slave in. He wants to know why, when he was forgiven so much, he could not forgive another of something so small. When the slave refuses to let it go, the master decides to punish him for the first debt, the enormous one, and throws him into prison. And Jesus tells us that "my Heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."(Matt. 18: 35)

You see, the thing about unforgiveness is, it does not hurt the other party near as much as it hurts the one harboring the unforgiveness. And, when it is present in a marriage, it ends up hurting EVERYONE. You, your spouse, your children, EVERYONE! And it spreads through the family like a wildfire that leaves ashes and destruction in it's path.

You promised to love and honor, and part of loving and honoring is forgiving. It just is. Plain and simple. You must learn to forgive for your spouse's sake and for yours. Not to mention the children, those around you and all who love you. Your marriage has the capacity to be an excellent Christian witness to those around you. How is it faring in that department?

Have you ever heard someone who has forgiven another person say that is is like a weight being lifted? Have you ever wondered why that is? Because it releases the forgiver as much as the forgivee. Forgiving is not saying that what the other person has done is OK, it is saying that you no longer take responsibility for the punishment. When you forgive, you give that responsibility over to God (where it belongs!). You let God be the one who takes the responsibility of deciding the other person's judgement. And YOU let that responsibility go. It IS relieving! Because it IS the way that it is meant to be!

And when you can actually say that you have forgiven, you can even look the other person in the face and not feel that knot in the pit of your stomach. You know, that knot that makes you sick to your stomach and wears you down? It will not be there anymore!

Whatever you haven't forgiven in your mate, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to "forgive us our debts" each day, we must ask Him to help us "forgive us our debtors" each day as well. Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive."

There is sooooo much more to be said of forgiveness. More than time or space - or attention span - allows. But, the thing to remember is this: Good marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, but rather by people who choose to "keep no record of wrongs."
(1Corinthians 13:5)

I am praying for you!!!

See ya tomorrow!

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