Thursday, May 20, 2010

EMMDEV 2010-05-20 [Seven Laws of Spiritual Success] Forgiveness: The Power to Forgive

(A longer but important eDev today...)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans8:28
Where does the power and the strength to forgive come from?
One of the best Biblical frameworks for understanding forgiveness comes from the life of Joseph. If there was anyone in a position to be resentful and bitter it was Joseph:
- Failed by a father who spoilt him and caused his brothers to hate him.
- Betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery
- Treated badly and framed by Potiphar's wife
- Forgotten by the wine-steward who he had helped in prison
- Years of his prime-time life wasted in slavery and jail.
But Joseph does not display the scarcity mentality that is so often present in those who are weighed down with bitter grudges and deep-seated resentment. Two events illustrate this:
- At the birth of his first-born, he he names him Manasseh, which means: "God has made me forget. (Gen41:51)
- When Jacob dies, his brother's fear that the "proverbial hammer" would now come down and the day of reckoning would come, but Joseph gets his brothers together and says: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." (Gen 50:20)
Joseph found the power to forgive because he trusted that God was at work in the bigger picture:
1. We was willing to let go of pain in order to count his blessings. Many of us, when we are hurt, close our hearts to the good that is still there and our pain becomes our idol. Joseph did not try to hide his pain, he acknowledged there had been pain, but he was allowing God to heal it, one sunrise, one blessing, one child-birth at a time.
2. Joseph was willing to leave vengeance to God.* He trusts that God has worked in their hearts. He trusts God to right the scales and does not enter into the petty destructive cycle of revenge.
3. Joseph is certain that God could bring good out of evil. He was certain that human evil was not a show-stopper to God.
Centuries later, Paul would speak with the same conviction. The power to forgive and overcome tragedy, darkness and betrayal is to trust in a the goodness of God who specialises in transformation: bringing the sunrise after a dark night, spring after winter, and Resurrection Sunday after Crucifixion Friday.
Our power to forgive comes from the big picture that God is ultimately in charge and that He is ultimately good! An unforgiving spirit is ultimately a lack of belief in the transforming power of God.
*Some have interpreted the game Jospeh played by not revealing his identity to his brothers, "framing" Benjamin with the cup in his saddlebag and pretending to arrest him as an attempt to "get even" with his brothers, but it is clear that his real interest is in whether their hearts had changed and whether he could trust them again.
Theo Groeneveld
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