Dead Men Can’t Defend Themselves

As believers in Jesus Christ, it is necessary to write to a higher standard than the secular media requires of us. If we want to write about someone who has hurt us personally, we need to think carefully about our words. It will be important to extend grace to the individual(s) as we write our story. Many times, we are not released to write about our experiences until the offending person has passed away.

trees in park

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Most individuals are not entirely good or evil. They are, like us, a composite of both positive and negative traits. It would be easy to portray an offending individual in the darkest of terms and paint them with a brush entirely filled with black paint or in our case as writers, negative adjectives. People have also been shaped by the circumstances they have endured throughout the course of their lives. When we write about them, it is important to write about some of the extenuating circumstances they found themselves in.

When people have hurt us deeply, it may take us years to fully forgive them and be healed from the pain of their actions. Only because we have received the forgiveness that Christ offers, are we are able to extend that same forgiveness to the offending person. The further away from the negative experience we are, the easier it is to write about it from an objective viewpoint.

We need to remember that there are always two sides to any situation. When we portray the situation from our point of view, the offending person, if deceased, will not have the opportunity to provide an answer to our statements. There will be no one to speak in their defense, and even if their actions are indefensible, we should allow them a certain amount of latitude when sharing our story. It might seem impossible to do this, but I have found that through prayer, I am able to view them in a more compassionate light.

Remember, when writing publicly about those who have hurt us, we must reflect on the words we use. After all, dead men (or women, for that matter) can’t defend themselves!

Facing the Music

man playing violin on stage

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Every Saturday, I sit down and put all the debit slips from the week in my checkbook; I then balance the checkbook. The next week, same thing. Once a month, we get our bank statement in the mail and I have to “face the music.” Did I make any math mistakes…you know, add the two – carry the one? If so, when it is time to balance the statement, I must “face the music” and make the corrections. Sometimes, I do pretty good and I am about on track with the bank. Other times, I have made mistakes in our favor. That is always a good day when I can add money back into our account. There are other days however, when I have made mistakes that are not in our favor and I must subtract money from our available balance.

If the mistakes aren’t too big, I don’t mention it to my husband. My motto is: No harm, No foul,  but if the mistakes are over about $25.00, I feel I need to let him know. Not that he says anything, mind you. He just gives me that look that says, “Why don’t you use a calculator when figuring the balance?” The problem is: I do use my calculator now, but I can still make mistakes when entering the numbers.  No matter how hard I try, I still cannot do it perfectly.

Last evening, when I was out on my nightly walk, I began thinking about “facing the music” in terms of our trespasses. What if I didn’t confess them to the Lord as they happened, instead I waited until Saturdays to get things right? I would have to start writing them down in order to remember them all. You know how the list would go…I had a bad thought about someone, I had a bad attitude when I talked to my boss, etc… the list would continue on and on.

What if, rather than once a week, I waited until the end of my life to try and get things right with the Lord? What would that look like? I know one thing for sure; there is no way I could remember all of the wrong things I had done. And yet, some people saunter through life like that. They don’t even think about “facing the music” when they die. Surely, there must be a better way.

For daily debits, think in terms of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For those who are sauntering through life not thinking in terms of “facing the music,” Hebrews 9:27 should give them pause: “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Let’s face it, there is not a notebook big enough to write down all the sins we each commit in our lifetimes. You see, that’s why Christ came. The next verse says, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” There is a “Get out of Hell” free card, we just have to be willing to take it. 

Forgiveness Comes Before Freedom in the Dictionary

Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary.  Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness, of course, it always comes before freedom in the dictionary.

black and white book business close up

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Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Over the course of our lives, we receive many offences from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offence or 2. We can forgive.

Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offence, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm. 

When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offence. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say,”I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me any more.”  Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offence no longer has power over us.

You will say to me, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same. Jesus told us a great story about this principle. In Matthew 18, he tells us about a servant that owed a king a great deal of money; by today’s standards it would be several million dollars. The servant could not pay the debt and the king commanded that the man, his wife and children and all he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant then fell down and begged him to forgive the debt. The king relented and forgave the servant the entire debt.

The servant then went out from the king and found someone who owed him several thousand dollars.  He took the man by the throat and demanded the man pay him what he owed him. The debtor begged the man to have compassion on him and he would pay him what was owed but the servant would not show mercy. He had the man thrown into prison. Soon it was reported to the king what the servant had done to his debtor. The king then called the servant and demanded to know why he had treated the other man so harshly seeing that he had received mercy. He then threw the man into prison until all of his debt was paid. The story ends with this admonition from Jesus, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

The point of this story is that we all stand before God owing a great debt; that debt being our sins and trespasses. If we want God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned or trespassed against us. It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.

You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.” You’re right, I don’t, but God does. 

In order to do this, we also must understand what forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.

2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still  may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system. 

Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.

You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom.   

 

Like our GPS, am recalibrating this week…reblogging a few of my faves!

 

 

Forgiveness Comes Before Freedom in the Dictionary

Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary.  Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness, of course, it always comes before freedom in the dictionary.

black and white book business close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Over the course of our lives, we receive many offences from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offence or 2. We can forgive.

Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offence, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm. 

When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offence. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say,”I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me any more.”  Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offence no longer has power over us.

You will say to me, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same. Jesus told us a great story about this principle. In Matthew 18, he tells us about a servant that owed a king a great deal of money; by today’s standards it would be several million dollars. The servant could not pay the debt and the king commanded that the man, his wife and children and all he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant then fell down and begged him to forgive the debt. The king relented and forgave the servant the entire debt.

The servant then went out from the king and found someone who owed him several thousand dollars.  He took the man by the throat and demanded the man pay him what he owed him. The debtor begged the man to have compassion on him and he would pay him what was owed but the servant would not show mercy. He had the man thrown into prison. Soon it was reported to the king what the servant had done to his debtor. The king then called the servant and demanded to know why he had treated the other man so harshly seeing that he had received mercy. He then threw the man into prison until all of his debt was paid. The story ends with this admonition from Jesus, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

The point of this story is that we all stand before God owing a great debt; that debt being our sins and trespasses. If we want God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned or trespassed against us. It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.

You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.” You’re right, I don’t, but God does. 

In order to do this, we also must understand what forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.

2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still  may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system. 

Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.

You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom.