"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
February 24, 2010
Jon and I recently heard a sermon on forgiveness. It was very good and this subject has remained on my mind. I began looking up scriptures that speak of forgiveness and found that the Bible has a lot to say about it. There is so much information that I will probably be writing on this topic for the next couple of weeks or so.
I looked up the word forgiveness and the meaning is: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.
I then went back and looked to see what the definition of forgive is: to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw or mistake.
Under the definition "forgive", my online dictionary said to read the note for absolve. Absolve means to set or declare (someone) free from blame, guilt or responsibility. It also said that the Christian theology meaning is to give absolution for (a sin).
To forgive or give absolution are not actions that come naturally to any of us. In order to forgive someone, that person must first do or say something that offends or hurts our feelings, or they commit a wrongful act against us. When that happens, we're not generally in a frame of mind to immediately offer them heartfelt forgiveness. A normal reaction for us is to want them to know how we feel, or we want them to squirm a while, or we want to repay them for what they did to us; an eye for an eye type of retribution. "They'll be sorry they messed with me," can often be our first response.
There are various acts that require forgiveness. The first I'm going to deal with are those where the person unintentionally says or does something that upsets or offends us. They did not set out to provoke us; and in fact, may not even know that they said or did anything wrong. When we're the one this has happened to, it's easy to think, "How could they not know that I'm angry or upset?" But when the shoe is on the other foot, and we're the one who needs to be forgiven, we realize that it's not always black or white.
For example, there have been occasions when I have unintentionally said something to embarrass or hurt Jon's feelings. But unless he says something to let me know that I did something wrong, I may not even realize that there's a problem. At the time, I didn't mean it like Jon interpreted it, therefore I am unaware that I need to make things right.
Jon tends to hide his feelings; especially when we're with other people. There have been occasions when I've said or done something that embarrasses him or make him feel like I'm humiliating or "mothering" him. I strongly dislike the term "mothering" between us as husband and wife; but will use it for lack of a better description. I may be joking around and don't realize that my words hurt his feelings. Or in my mind, what I said or did may not seem like a big deal, and I'm oblivious to the fact that it upset Jon. Sometimes Jon may not bring it up for a couple days or a week later; and during all that time I had no inclination that I had acted wrongly, or that he had misunderstood something I had said, or that he had felt like he did.
It's only when he says something that I can go back to that moment and think about what took place, and see how it was perceived from Jon's point of view. If I don't realize that I need to ask for forgiveness or explain myself, then I'm not going to do so. But once it's been brought to my attention, I can make things right.
Now in Jon's mind, he may be thinking, "How could Loretta not know that what she said hurt my feelings? She's a smart lady, so she must realize that she embarrassed me and made me feel humiliated in front of others. How come she's not apologizing for what she did?"
From that point, our mind can begin to imagine things and the situation begins to grow out of proportion. If Jon doesn't tell me what he's feeling, then that could plant a seed in his mind that will eventually grow into him thinking, "Loretta must not care about my feelings. She must not love me very much since she treated me like that, then hasn't even acted like she's sorry or asked for forgiveness." Once that seed takes root, then it will continue to grow. It can lead from that to Jon scrutinizing everything I say and do; looking for things that I do wrong to justify his wrongful thinking.
Let me clarify that things have never gone that far between us, and we have never questioned our relationship or love for one another. But it's because we do work to communicate and keep any misunderstandings cleared up. We realize the importance of apologizing and forgiving. We don't ever want to be a statistic of another failed marriage. Jon and I know that we both have to work at keeping our marriage strong, and can't begin taking the other person for granted.
That's why it's important for us to nip things quickly before they can take root and grow in our minds. If we get our feelings hurt, or feel like we've been wronged, or have been embarrassed, or whatever the situation may be; then we need to get it out in the open and discuss it with the person who we feel offended or wronged us. We need to get things worked out between us so forgiveness can be given and accepted. This is not only advice for me and Jon, or for you and your spouse; but for all family members, friends, co-workers, people you attend church with, etc.
A couple weeks ago, Jon and I were looking for somewhere special to eat for Valentine's Day, and my niece recommended a steakhouse that she and her husband had eaten at. Since we had never been there, Jon tried to call earlier in the week to make sure they were going to be open on that Sunday evening. Their phone seemed to be disconnected. So after the early church service on Valentine's Day, we decided to drive by there to make sure they hadn't closed down. Jon typed the name of the restaurant into his i-phone GPS, then handed it to me. Big mistake!
I was trying to read the directions and either missed seeing the exit sign, or it wasn't marked correctly, or something. Jon was telling me to push the button on the bottom left, and I didn't see any button to push. I'm not used to his phone and was trying to find the right button, while trying to read the directions on the GPS map. He reached over, and I thought he was trying to show me where the phone button was that I needed to push. What I didn't know, was that he was trying to take the phone so he could look at the map. We ended up getting into an argument and things got pretty tense for a few moments.
I thought Jon was upset with me for not being able to find the right button on his phone and then missing the exit. He was aggravated because he thought I was being stubborn and just wasn't giving him his phone back when he was reaching over. "Why wouldn't you give me my phone back when I reached over?" "Why didn't you say 'Could I please have my phone back' when you reached over?"
It ended up that the restaurant was off a service road, and we had to get off the main highway and backtrack to get to it. If we hadn't seen it from main highway, we would never have found it. It wasn't marked well; especially for those of us unfamiliar with the area. We got there, and it had been closed "due to the recession" since September.
In this instance, what Jon wanted and what I thought he wanted were two very different things. Neither of us were communicating as well as we could have, and it ended up causing an argument. I got my feelings hurt and couldn't figure out why Jon was so upset with me. Jon was aggravated and couldn't figure out why I wouldn't give him his phone back and was being stubborn. Neither of us were intentionally trying to upset the other. For goodness sakes, it was Valentine's Day and we were planning a romantic dinner!
Isn't it funny how we were planning a romantic day for Valentine's, and ended up getting into an argument? Little, unexpected flair-ups in relationships can happen at the most inopportune time!
We didn't stay upset with one another very long, and after we talked and explained our side of things, we both understood the other person's perspective. We both apologized and were quick to forgive. Neither of us wanted to let this small setback steal the joy from our day.
Situations can sometimes be misinterpreted or misunderstood by others. We've all misjudged circumstances where we think we know more than we do. We may see something, overhear someone talking, or have someone share details about something that has happened (usually from their point of view), and we judge from that information. But there may be a whole lot more going on that we know nothing about.
In Luke 7 beginning in verse 36 we read a story where Jesus went to someone's house to eat. While He was sitting at the table, a sinner woman from the city, came into the house. She had an alabaster flask of fragrant oil and she stood at His feet. Jesus may have been reclining on a couch, which was prevalent during those days. The woman was standing behind Him, and was weeping. She began to wash His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. She then kissed Jesus' feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
Talk about causing a big stink! The man, whose house Jesus was eating at, said to himself, "This man (meaning Jesus), if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner!"
Jesus perceived what the man was thinking and said, "Simon, I have something to say to you."
He then gave a parable: "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." Jesus told him that he had rightly judged.
Jesus turned to the woman and spoke to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, (the Jewish people traditionally greeted one another with a kiss on the cheek), but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
Jesus then turned to the woman and told her that her sins are forgiven. That caused the people who overheard to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But Jesus spoke to the woman once again and told her that her faith has saved her and to go in peace.
When the woman walked into the house, she didn't intend to cause trouble. She wasn't trying to put Jesus in a compromising situation or cause Him embarrassment. But she did recognize who Jesus was, and out of her desperation, she came to Him and showed her devotion and love in the best way she knew how. Perhaps it was unconventional and not how things were supposed to be done. But she was a sinner and may never have heard all the laws, rules and regulations of how "good upstanding" people were supposed to behave. She may have been tired of the life of sin she had been living. Perhaps she had overheard Jesus teach and saw some of the miracles He performed. The crowds may have been so large when Jesus was out in public that she could never get close to Him. So when she heard where He was going to be eating, she ran and got an alabaster box of fragrant oil, then made her way to the home as fast as she could. She may have saw this as her one and only chance of getting close to Jesus, receiving forgiveness of her sins, and a chance of beginning a new life.
She probably couldn't care less what other people thought of her. Apparently she had a bad reputation in the city for being a sinner woman, so she may have thought, "What have I got to lose?" She was desperate and wanted to show her devotion to Jesus, so did it in the only way she knew how. And it touched the heart of Jesus.
Jesus didn't rebuke her for her actions. He didn't have her thrown out of the house. He didn't tell her that this was His time to rest and relax, and that He'd talk to her later. He wasn't embarrassed by her weeping or washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. He wasn't bothered by the comments being made by Simon or other guest who were in the room. Instead, Jesus pointed out to Simon that he had not offered Him water in which to wash His feet, nor had he greeted Him with the customary kiss, and had not anointed His head with oil. Yet this sinner woman had gone above and beyond all those things with her actions.
The sins of this woman were many, but because she loved much, Jesus forgave her of them all. How freeing it must have been for her to hear Jesus say that her sins were forgiven. And how freeing it is today to know that our sins can also be forgiven by Jesus. We don't have to carry around a load of guilt and shame, but can accept the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers us all.
Forgiveness is so powerful. I hate it when I think that Jon may be upset with me about something; even if it's something small and insignificant. I don't like it when I know that I've done or said something to hurt his feelings or make him feel bad. When I apologize, I want to make sure that Jon has truly forgiven me. I don't want him to only hear him say the words, but I want to know in my heart that things are truly okay between us. I like the feeling of knowing that everything has been settled between us and is good again.
There have been times when Jon will say that he forgives me, but I have a hard time letting go of the guilt. Even though my actions may have been unintentional and I wasn't even aware that I had upset Jon, when I'm made aware of it, I tend to feel badly about the situation. I feel rotten for not knowing that I had said or done something that embarrassed or hurt Jon. Even after we talk about it and Jon tells me that it's okay, I sometimes have a hard time letting go. I feel guilty for not knowing that Jon got upset or aggravated at me. But once I know that all is forgiven and that we've made our peace, I have to choose to let go and try to do better next time. I have to choose to accept that Jon has truly forgiven me and that he is ready to move forward and forget about it. I cannot think to myself, "You're a lousy wife! You should have been more considerate." But I have to put it behind me and go on.
Sometimes forgiveness is harder on the person who has to accept it than for those who have to give it.
All of us have been in circumstances where we're the ones who unintentionally said or did something to offend or hurt someone. And we've been on the other end where we've been the one who got upset. Whenever that happens, it's so important to talk things over and make reconciliation. Don't let it build up in your mind and get blown out of proportion.
Even when we feel that we really did nothing to need forgiveness for, if someone has misunderstood and been hurt or upset, then we need to take the time to make things right. We can't just blow it off as being silly and insignificant, but need to always take the other persons feelings into consideration.
Let's make an effort to walk in forgiveness; whether it's us giving or receiving it. Not only with one another, but with God.
Unforgiveness can come in small packages, too. But like rice, even small things can add up.
Last week, Loretta and I were talking about what she planned to write. We were driving at the time, and I was eager to get home and relax. But we had a driver in front of us going 32 mph in a 50 mph zone. We were stuck behind the person for about 3 miles.
One of the most common times I get irritated or annoyed by others is while I'm driving. That's a good time for me to practice forgiving. If I'm not careful, there are times when I could get very angry by the time I get home or get to work. Does that fix anything? Of course not. It just leaves me feeling angry when I get home or get to work.
Chicken and Biscuits
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup sour cream - divided
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (16 oz.) pkg frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Bisquick
3 Tbsp. milk
Heat oven to 375. Mix soup and 1/2 cup sour cream in 8-inch square pan. Add chicken, vegetables and cheese; mix. Place Bisquick in medium bowl. Add remaining 1/4 cup sour cream and milk; stir until stiff dough forms. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls into 6 mounds over chicken mixture. Bake 35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and chicken mixture is hot and bubbly.
My mom was the third from the youngest, out of ten kids. One of her older brothers remembers when she was a baby that the boys had to babysit her sometimes; probably while their mom was working in the garden or canning food. Their idea of babysitting was taking her outside and turning her face to the sun so she would shut her eyes and go to sleep.
Another story I remember hearing is the boys having to babysit my mom's older sister one time when she was small. They sat her on top of a stump that was too high for her to get off of by herself, then went off to play. They forgot about her, and when they eventually did remember, her face was bright red and sweat was just pouring off her. I think she was pretty pitiful looking and they felt bad for leaving her up there so long.
You do well to believe in God.
Satan also believes -- and trembles. James 2:19
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We love you!
Loretta & Jon