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Archive for November 26th, 2018

“As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt.” The Mayo Clinic

Medicine and psychology would both encourage the benefits of the practise of forgiving. To do so can effect blood pressure, the immune system, as well as improve mental health, anxiety, stress and depression.

But, what does the Bible say?

When I began my study into Biblical forgiveness (a-lesson-in-forgiveness), I discovered that, on the surface, it was not as clear as I had always thought, particularly when I looked at the life story of Joseph, our man with the coat of many colours.

I decided I needed to understand the origins of forgiveness in Greek or Hebrew, in the various locations in the Bible where forgiveness is spoken of.

In Hebrew, there are three main words forgiveness is translated from. Kaphar, which means shelter or to atone. Naga’ is the most frequently translated word for forgiveness in the Bible, and it means to to lift up, as in the taking away of a burden.

Then there is salach, and it is special, for it is never used (biblically) for instances of human forgiveness. This is the forgiveness that only God can give … not only is forgiveness given, but it is as though the offence never happened (though the debt of it still had to be paid, but we do not pay this, for we cannot, only Jesus’ blood could pay that debt).

You and I cannot do this type of forgiveness.

In the Greek, the words used for forgiveness are aphesis means pardon, cancellation of a debt, apolyo which means set free, and charizomai  meaning God’s freely given grace.

Then there is aphiemi which means to set free … it not only forgives, but erases or covers, as in Jeremiah 31:34:

“I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more”.

This is not forgiveness on our own strength, but through Christ, and it is ONLY through Christ that we can forgive others. It is a miraculous thing, not a mental one for there is nothing within us that can forgive. This supernatural action is what Philippians 2:13 declares:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

And this is the crux of forgiveness from a biblical perspective … it is only in in the power of God, that our human need to forgive is covered and a working of the divine makes our effort successful, setting not just our offender, but also ourselves free indeed.

We must forgive, because it is in our weakness that Christ’s strength transforms our forgiveness, our naga (taking away a burden) and makes it aphiemi (erased).

I love what John Steakhouse has said:

“To forgive does not mean to forget (in human terms). It does not mean to pretend that there is no debt, or that the debt is less than it actually is, or that the debt is somehow other than what it is. To forgive is to refuse to claim one’s just deserts. It is to surrender one’s rights, to move on without vengeance, retribution, or even simple justice. It is to generously draw a line under the debt and say, “That’s over. Let’s move on.”” And  this is not something that can be done in our own strength, but only with and under the cover of Christ. 

This story creates a beautiful illustration of the beauty of choosing forgiveness:

One day when Stan Mooneyham was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, “We call it the forgiveness flower.” This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives-freely, fully, richly. (from PreceptAustin.com)


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