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Actually, the fact of forgiving frees me up, it is a fact.
The problem is that most Christians are often not taught about what forgiveness is, and about how to forgive.
Often at TRGN we try to put ourselves in God's position, and we look how He acts when we try to explain a fact from the Christian life. In this case, and this is what I have done for years, simply look at how God forgives, read in His words all different cases where He forgives, how He does it, what is His attitude afterwards, beforehand, etc...
In doing so, we can see that God cannot hold a rancour for anything. This, simply because He is perfect and He is love. If God did not forgive at certain times it would destroy everything He is. God forgives because forgiveness is a part of Him, He does not use it, He is the one who created forgiveness through His person. God forgives because His person cannot do otherwise, because if it wasn’t the case, He would not be God.
The same is therefore true for us Christians who are in His image. If we do not forgive ourselves, we destroy ourselves, we gradually destroy what we have become through Jesus Christ.
Forgiveness is therefore above all an action of protection for myself.
Put it that way, you might think it's crazy, but this is the reality.
Exercising forgiveness is a personal protection, a preservation of the image of God in me, a perfect weapon against an attempt to destroy my inner person which, if not used, will also end up destroying my outer person (my body).
Forgiveness is therefore not a tool I use, it is a part of me that must be activated automatically as soon as a need arises, which is totally different.
In short, forgiveness is a natural reflex when one is in the image of God. We make the choice not to be offended.
We can therefore forgive without noticing it, by “not taking any offence". It is in this sense that the forgiveness I trigger after being offended must be practiced as little as possible.
It is as I progress in my transformation into Jesus Christ that I will use forgiveness less and less "manually", because this forgiveness will be more and more automatically applied before I am offended. That is why we say that forgiveness (triggered manually) should be exercised as little as possible.
Now how does God forgive?.....
Does He cancel the human consequences of a mistake?
No, because a person who has done wrong and who is forgiven will have to pay the society for his or her mistake. Whether it is through various repressive laws that will apply to her. Whether it has caused harm to others or even pain, it remains. God lets this happen. I mean that the suffering endured or the wrongdoing caused cannot be erased by going back. Certainly God can stop them, but these things will nevertheless have been experienced by the offended party.
In this sense, if we take the example of a person who has acted badly towards me, I will forgive him, the question does not even arise.
But forgiveness does not mean: "I give you permission to do it again whenever you want”.
It often happens that a request for a forgiveness is not followed by fruits from the other party.
If I am in the perspective of thinking that I forgive to free the other, then in a similar case I will not forgive, because I will think that my attitude of no forgiveness will force the other to change. I will think that if I don't forgive, it will put pressure on the other person to change so that he or she have to change so that he or she doesn't do it again.
That's the whole demonic strategy, thinking that I forgive to free the other. So when there are no fruits, no signs of repentance, no signs of regret on the part of the other, we say to ourselves: "I do not forgive him because he does not deserve it, he shows no sign of regret, why give him my forgiveness...".
In this case I just put myself in a process of destruction.
But when I understand that forgiveness is a natural act that protects me from self-destruction, my forgiveness is no longer conditioned on the results or attitudes of the other. I forgive because I understood that if I don't do it, it's harmful to me.
So when there are no fruits that show that the other is also in an attitude of forgiveness, it doesn't change that I have forgiven, and that I continue to do so.
It is possible that a person does not regret what he or she may have done to me or told me. In this case, my position remains the same, forgiveness is still applied, but I am in an attitude where I would not allow that person to do it again. In this case I'm just protecting myself, I do the best I can to avoid letting the other person do it again. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as I remain in an attitude as the image of God.
Would that mean that I am in a position where I am going back to a forgiveness problem?
Not at all.
I can, not agreeing with someone, avoiding conflictual situations, without having to forgive them, because there is nothing wrong with that.
God Himself forgives us, and yet in His forgiveness He sometimes remains in disagreement with us. Just look at a person who is going through the new birth, God forgave him for all his sins without any exception. Yet it is quite possible that God may not agree with some areas of this person's life, without needing to forgive him or her for anything.
I may very well disagree with someone and yet remain in an attitude according to the nature of God in me.
What I mean is that we can forgive a person without that person showing any fruit of change towards us, while keeping my forgiveness effective and efficient.
My forgiveness is never conditioned on the attitude of the other, but it applies even when the other refuses it. In these kinds of cases, I am simply in an attitude of balance.
This attitude will keep me neither too much in one direction by cutting off relationships with a person, nor too much in another direction by letting that person act as he or she wishes, interfering in my personal life.
When I do not allow a person to do it again, I will indeed set limits. As a matter of fact, we all have limits that we set somewhere. If we take for example the fact of protecting ourselves by using locks, it is a way of saying: "I don't allow anything to go beyond that point". No one can disagree with this kind of action.
It's all about balance. If I use my example of using locks again, at home, in my car, for my locker, or even a password on my computer, all this is done because I do not allow everyone to have access to what I consider to be valuable or important.
In this sense, my new person in Jesus Christ is what is more precious, and that is what I protect.
I will protect myself by not offending the other person, because it is not in my nature as a son (daughter). But also I will not refuse to forgive because it will destroy me from the inside, as we said above.
The whole purpose is to act and make balanced decisions, according to the nature of God.
There is a kind of attitude that is often found in women (men also have their own). But there is actually a "protection" reaction that sometimes occurs, which can be described as "a shutdown attitude". An attitude where you shut yourself off like an oyster to protect yourself.
In this shutdown attitude, and if you only look at the outside, we can see a person who doesn't speak or doesn't speak much, and who remains calm.
We know that God looks to the heart, that is, to our way of thinking, and not to what necessarily emerges from it on the outside.
In this attitude, then, I have seen the case where a person can be angry, full of rancour. I have also seen cases where for a similar external attitude, a person may not have anger or resentment.
So in the end, it is not so much this external aspect that counts, but rather: "What makes me do this, where is the source of my attitude?”. And that's the important point.
As I said, the ideal is not to let a negative thought about another person dominate me, so that I don't have to use forgiveness later on when I realize it. But the ideal is not always there, which is why God gives us alternatives, plans B like forgiveness.
If forgiveness takes time, it will always be on my part.
But this timeframe is a very good barometer, in order to check my progression in this area. In any case, when I know who I am in Christ, forgiveness no longer takes time, it is done without delay. This does not mean that if I take time to forgive I do wrong, but simply that there are aspects of my new person that I have not yet understood, or that I put my human person before my spiritual person.
I fully understand that it is easy to talk like that when everything is going well.
It is only when we are confronted with a real situation that we can see what level we have reached.
I am therefore well aware that we can talk about a dispute between friends, family, with one's spouse, which can generate resentment. But we can also think of a person who would see his children murdered, another who would be assaulted, or any other extreme situation.
However, the Bible does not give specific teaching according to the degree of importance of the prejudice.
The method remains the same: not to allow hate, resentment nor (human) anger to be born and even less to take root in me.
And eventually it is in these extreme situations that forgiveness takes on its full meaning, in the fact that it gives itself to free myself, not to let these harmful thoughts destroy me over a period of time. Forgiveness is an antidote to self-destruction of my person.
It is just a matter to see people who do not have the knowledge of Christ in their lives, being eaten away by revenge, hatred, etc... they sometimes end up being in a worse situation than the one who has harmed them.
I remember a court case in the US, where there was a serial killer and rapist. On the day of his trial, the victims' parents were invited to speak to him directly on the stand. We saw people coming to the stand full of hatred, anger, telling him that he was going to end up in hell, and that it would be a well-deserved thing for him, that it would only be justice in the final analysis. These people were destroyed and gnawed at by their resentment, their hatred.
But all these people couldn't get a single reaction from this man, he remained stoic without saying anything or doing anything, he had no reaction.
Then a man came to the stand and said, "You raped and killed my daughter. You took my daughter from me, and the pain is extreme for me, it's a huge lack. You have turned my life and my family's life upside down, what you have done is terrible. But despite all this I want to tell you that I have no anger, no grudge, no hatred, I have nothing against you, I forgive you for what you have done”.
These words caused the defendant to burst into tears on the stand.....
Forgiveness is a power.
We often think that because we have been offended, we have a right to hold a grudge, because after all, "it is quite normal", as we can hear.
But it's a demonic strategy, because grudge, or (human) anger, only makes things worse by destroying me from the inside. In this case I will impose a double punishment to myself.
If then, forgiveness takes time on my side, it is because I have not yet understood all the benefits of forgiveness. But as I said, forgiveness is an additional solution that God gives us when we have allowed harmful thoughts to dwell in us. This is simply to say that when I come to forgiveness, it is because I have already missed the first step, that of not letting resentment or (human) anger dominate me. So because I let that happen, I have to use forgiveness.
I want to show that forgiveness is not the best solution, that there is another much more glorious solution beforehand, the one not to let the negative (anger, resentment, hatred, etc...) take over from me.
This is of course in the case where I consider that I have been offended by someone.
There is also the case where I am the one who may have offended a person, in this case, as soon as I realize it, the process remains the same, except that there can be two situations:
I offended without realizing it.
I offended in full consciousness.
In the first case, and if I have understood who I am, I will ask for forgiveness.
In the second case, I realize that I need to better know who I am, and understand that the offense is not part of God's nature in me at all. So I change my way of thinking (repentance), and I ask for forgiveness.
In either case, forgiveness sets me free. But in addition, and if the person on the other side is not yet in a mature attitude towards forgiveness, I will also free him, or at least strongly participate in his release, also repairing my wrongs if I have the possibility to do so.
To sum up, it is when I understand the true power of forgiveness that I will use it quickly and without any delay.
But also when I put up barriers for the other in order not to let him do it again, it is on one hand to protect me, and on the other hand to protect him also as a brother or sister in Christ or simply as a creature of God if he is not a born again person.
My behaviour must certainly be unequivocal, firm, while remaining in love.
This is what God does, He is inflexible with His decisions, but He remains love. So it's absolutely possible, the two are not incompatible at all.
Often many things are deviated from their original meaning, firmness is an example. If we think about it, firmness comes from God, because God does not change. When He makes a decision, He does not turn away from it because it is good, He remains firm because His decisions are perfect.
In the same way, when I put up barriers in a situation where there has been an abuse and an offence, I must remain firm, that is, not changing my position.
Then with the help of the Holy Spirit I will be able (if I see that things are moving forward) to extend these limits in order to return to a normal situation.
Bye for now.