Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD ... authentic forgiveness

While Christmas shopping tonight I saw a crystal vase that I fell in love with. Attached to the box was a label that said that the vase was authentic crystal. Authentic? I thought to myself ... this was the real deal. No quelms about it, you were getting what you paid for.

Sometimes, in our relationships I wish that would be true. Wouldn't it be great if attached to our relationships were labels that said "authentic", what a difference it would make if we would be the "real deal" to one another.

One reason that people have a hard time being authentic with one another is for the lack of forgiveness. God has taught me ALOT in the past few years about this thing called forgiveness and one of the greatest lessons that I have learned is that forgiving is not always easy.

Most of us have experienced false forgiveness... you know the kind that we say the words "I'm sorry" or "That's alright, it was no big deal", but inside of us anger and bitterness rage. We know deep down that this is not true authentic forgiveness, but what else can we do?

The "what else" that we can do is modeling forgiveness after the authentic display of forgiveness that God has for us! No better way to express this kind of love than we see in the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible.

LUKE 15:20-24 "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (21) The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you . I am no longer worthy to be called your son. (22) but the father said to his servants, Quick bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (23) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. (24) For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate!"

So many times when I have read this parable, I have concentrated on the forgiveness of the father and the repentive heart of the lost son, but what about the brother... the other son that had been true and faithful to the father? Was there any kind of guilt that existed between him and the lost brother?

In last weeks YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I asked the question: "When you were a child, what were you most likely to feel guilty of?" The top 3 answers were...

1. 37% of those polled said that they felt guilty about lying to their parents.
2. Another 37% voted and said that they felt guilty about everything!
3. 12% voted and said that they felt guilty about not getting their chores done.

This poll reflects that as kids, we ALL had guilt and many of us have hung on to that guilt into our adult years. Some of us can relate to the older brother in the "Prodigal" story...he was angry because he had worked so hard to be the "good" son. Even though the prodigal son's sin was against the father, the older brother felt personally offended because his view of justice had not rolled out the way that he had thought it should.

This caused the older brother to sulk and stay outside while the celebration went on inside. He missed out on so much, he missed being "part of the party". When we cannot forgive as God forgives, we too, miss the "party". We often think that sulking and not extending forgiveness will make all of the prodigals in our lives miserable, but in essence the only one miserable will be us! Bitterness and lack of forgiveness is like a venom that will eat away at us...when God calls us to forgive, He not only calls us to have mercy on others but also to have mercy on ourselves.

When you find yourself to have a prodigal in your life, and you ask yourself "what else" can I do? - choose forgiveness. Choose to forgive others, this will give life back not only to your brother or sister but it will give life back to you as well. This is truly an authentic form of forgiveness!


Crystal said...

Wow Laurie! Thank you for this! What a wonderful message. I am so glad to have read this tonight. (PS - Love the book I am borrowing!)

Love you,

Karen said...

This is a good word. I have been asking the Lord to show me when I need to forgive, but also when I need to set clear boundaries.

Debbie said...

This was soo good. I have never been one to hold on to a grudge. It takes too much work...I have seen those that have though. If they could only wrap their heads around the fact that the only one who really suffers (or at least suffers the most) is themselves. Just another example of things that the Lord has told us that is really there for our OWN benefit. He even went so far as to tell us how many times we should forgive. 70 times 7...haha Have a good day Laurie. Blessings, Debbie

Laurie Ann said...

Great post, Laurie. The message was right on for me. I have a prodigal in my life and after some soul searching I have found I have not been as forgiving as I thought I had. Need to rectify that now.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing this.