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.   

 

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.   

 

 

Fear, Shame and Remorse – Breaking the Bonds

 

woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body

Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

Have you ever been held captive by one of the big three…Fear, Shame or Remorse? I spent years in captivity by these three. People can look at us and never see the invisible chains that are holding us back, refusing to allow us to go free. 

I think for me the worst of the three was Fear. I left my ex-husband and took my six week old baby with me. He wanted us back and threatened me. I lived for years with the fear that at any time he would come and take me or my son. Finally, several years later, when he remarried the fear began to subside, but it still wasn’t gone.

If carrying around the chains of Fear wasn’t bad enough, I was also shackled by Shame. I had been raised in a small conservative town and after college moved in with my boyfriend…soon to be husband. It was at a time when that just wasn’t done and gossip flooded the town and I was at the center of the deluge. At the time, it didn’t really bother me, but several years later when I came back with my baby in tow, I felt the scourge of that Shame.

Add Remorse to the equation and you have a girl who was in bondage. I was really sorry for what I had done, but I could not change it. There was no magic time machine that would take me back and undo my bad decisions.

So there I was, full of Fear, Guilt and Shame and there was nothing I could do about it. I did not have the power to break the bonds that were shackling me…and then I met the Bondage Breaker – The one Person, the God-man-Jesus, who sacrificed his life for someone like me; someone broken and held in bondage by her own bad decisions. What a day that was for me. He walked into my invisible prison and unlocked the door and broke the chains that were holding me.

freedom-2053281_1280

It was a great feeling…He had set me free. But was that all that needed to be done? Was there something I was supposed to do? Yes, yes, there was. I had to make the decision to get up and leave the chains behind and walk out of the prison. 

Was it easy? No. Every day I had to choose to believe that I was free and I had to rely on the truths in his word. Truths like…”For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”( 2 Timothy 1:7) when I would start to feel afraid. When Shame started to hem me in, I knew that I needed to focus on “For you will forget the shame of your youth” (Isaiah 54:4).  When Remorse started to overwhelm me, I needed to focus on Romans 8: 28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I had to believe that I was forgiven and nothing could change God’s love and mercy towards me.

Set free…Yes, by the Bondage Breaker…once and for all. Learning to walk free…that was another matter…step by step, day by day, until I could truly say, “I am free!”