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The Respect Dare, Day 39 – God’s Perspective on Forgiveness

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I vividly remember last December seeing the coverage on the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  Our daughter was in kindergarten at the time, and over and over I could just so easily picture a young man walking into her school and shooting at the children and walking into her classroom and shooting her and her friends.

I thought, “I know that God calls on me to forgive even if someone were to kill my child.  Wow.  How I hope that I will never be tested to that degree!  What could be worse than someone killing my child and having to forgive that person?  Unless, maybe, they tortured my child first.”

Then God immediately spoke to me, “That is exactly what I have forgiven you for, April.”

WHAT?  What was that, Lord?

“Your sin put My Son on the cross.  My Son died at your hands.  And He didn’t just die – He was tortured and died a slow, cruel, agonizing death.  Not only that, He carried all of your sin on His sinless shoulders and paid for every one of them.  And I forgave you.”

That left me speechless.

I haven’t had to forgive an offense that was this serious yet.  One day, I may need to.  I know that my Lord – the Author of forgiveness – can empower me to forgive anything.  I trust that He will enable me to do so.

When I think about forgiveness, it helps when I look at it from Jesus’ perspective on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!”  It helps me to keep in mind:

  • They don’t know what they are doing.  If they did, they wouldn’t do it!

It is much easier for me to forgive if I realize that the person who offended me doesn’t realize what they are doing and how much it hurts me.  And Joseph’s incredible example of forgiveness in the Old Testament – when he forgave his brothers who sold him into slavery is also very helpful:

  • What  you meant for evil, God meant for good.

JUNE MARIE’S STORY

When I married my husband he was the associate pastor of the church we attended. Long story short over the next year and a half it was one thing after another. Our pastor passed away (he was practically my husbands dad), we had a child at a very inopportune time, we stayed broke, my husband couldn’t keep a steady job. Last year around this time he changed into a totally different person, someone I didn’t know anymore, someone I almost hated.

Little did I know that for some time he had fallen into a prescription drug addiction and was drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs behind my back. He drained all our money and we couldn’t pay the bills or buy diapers for our infant (thank God I was nursing him), and I had severe bleeding for 6 months after the birth if our child but couldn’t go to my dr cause my husband drank my paychecks away.

He had been verbally abusive and was on the verge of physical abuse when I found your blogs and started really seeking God out desperately. I almost left my husband, but I decided to trust God and decided that I would try the respect thing and try to build my husband up even though he had hurt me so bad and betrayed me.

It took about 5 months before I could really trust again when my husband started regularly attending church again. One night at revival I had gone to the altar to pray, and was caught up in a vision with Jesus. He told me specifically that if I did not trust my husband and forgive him that it would be the exact same thing as me bold face telling Jesus himself that I don’t trust Him and did not trust that he had done a work in my husband.

So I trusted God and 3 months after that, today we have the best relationship we have ever had, we attend church and hold leadership positions in the church, we talk about The Lord and have open communication with each other. God did a miraculous work in our lives, and he could only do it when I surrendered myself fully to Him and stop nagging and controlling and trying to be the Holy Spirit to my husband and let God speak!!!! Thank you for the opportunity to share my story ! :)

“ESPRESSO’S” STORY:

I am a sexual abuse survivor & I often times struggle with submitting to the needs of my husband at his request without feeling like its a chore. I keep praying that The Lord will do a work on my heart and mind to move past the memory & feeling that has been etched in my mind.  I have grown to know what true Biblical forgiveness really is and have been able to forgive my uncle for what he did even though he was found not guilty here on earth and denies what he did from when I was 4-14.

God is good ALL of the time and he will always provide us with strength to climb those mountains and walk thru those valleys. Keep reading your Bible, going to services, fellow shipping with sisters in Christ, and praying that he will continue to guide you thru the days and weeks ahead that you may be of witness to someone in need.

THE RESPECT DARE, DAY 39:

– Are you holding bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness in your heart and cherishing it against anyone?  Even against God?

– How does unforgiveness hurt you and your relationships with people?

– How does unforgiveness hurt your relationship with God?

– Take a huge leap of faith and ask God to help you forgive anyone you have been holding bitterness or a grudge against.

– What are the blessings of forgiveness?

The Respect Dare, Day 39 – God's Perspective on Forgiveness

805261_60983495

I vividly remember last December seeing the coverage on the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  Our daughter was in kindergarten at the time, and over and over I could just so easily picture a young man walking into her school and shooting at the children and walking into her classroom and shooting her and her friends.

I thought, “I know that God calls on me to forgive even if someone were to kill my child.  Wow.  How I hope that I will never be tested to that degree!  What could be worse than someone killing my child and having to forgive that person?  Unless, maybe, they tortured my child first.”

Then God immediately spoke to me, “That is exactly what I have forgiven you for, April.”

WHAT?  What was that, Lord?

“Your sin put My Son on the cross.  My Son died at your hands.  And He didn’t just die – He was tortured and died a slow, cruel, agonizing death.  Not only that, He carried all of your sin on His sinless shoulders and paid for every one of them.  And I forgave you.”

That left me speechless.

I haven’t had to forgive an offense that was this serious yet.  One day, I may need to.  I know that my Lord – the Author of forgiveness – can empower me to forgive anything.  I trust that He will enable me to do so.

When I think about forgiveness, it helps when I look at it from Jesus’ perspective on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!”  It helps me to keep in mind:

  • They don’t know what they are doing.  If they did, they wouldn’t do it!

It is much easier for me to forgive if I realize that the person who offended me doesn’t realize what they are doing and how much it hurts me.  And Joseph’s incredible example of forgiveness in the Old Testament – when he forgave his brothers who sold him into slavery is also very helpful:

  • What  you meant for evil, God meant for good.

JUNE MARIE’S STORY

When I married my husband he was the associate pastor of the church we attended. Long story short over the next year and a half it was one thing after another. Our pastor passed away (he was practically my husbands dad), we had a child at a very inopportune time, we stayed broke, my husband couldn’t keep a steady job. Last year around this time he changed into a totally different person, someone I didn’t know anymore, someone I almost hated.

Little did I know that for some time he had fallen into a prescription drug addiction and was drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs behind my back. He drained all our money and we couldn’t pay the bills or buy diapers for our infant (thank God I was nursing him), and I had severe bleeding for 6 months after the birth if our child but couldn’t go to my dr cause my husband drank my paychecks away.

He had been verbally abusive and was on the verge of physical abuse when I found your blogs and started really seeking God out desperately. I almost left my husband, but I decided to trust God and decided that I would try the respect thing and try to build my husband up even though he had hurt me so bad and betrayed me.

It took about 5 months before I could really trust again when my husband started regularly attending church again. One night at revival I had gone to the altar to pray, and was caught up in a vision with Jesus. He told me specifically that if I did not trust my husband and forgive him that it would be the exact same thing as me bold face telling Jesus himself that I don’t trust Him and did not trust that he had done a work in my husband.

So I trusted God and 3 months after that, today we have the best relationship we have ever had, we attend church and hold leadership positions in the church, we talk about The Lord and have open communication with each other. God did a miraculous work in our lives, and he could only do it when I surrendered myself fully to Him and stop nagging and controlling and trying to be the Holy Spirit to my husband and let God speak!!!! Thank you for the opportunity to share my story ! :)

“ESPRESSO’S” STORY:

I am a sexual abuse survivor & I often times struggle with submitting to the needs of my husband at his request without feeling like its a chore. I keep praying that The Lord will do a work on my heart and mind to move past the memory & feeling that has been etched in my mind.  I have grown to know what true Biblical forgiveness really is and have been able to forgive my uncle for what he did even though he was found not guilty here on earth and denies what he did from when I was 4-14.

God is good ALL of the time and he will always provide us with strength to climb those mountains and walk thru those valleys. Keep reading your Bible, going to services, fellow shipping with sisters in Christ, and praying that he will continue to guide you thru the days and weeks ahead that you may be of witness to someone in need.

THE RESPECT DARE, DAY 39:

– Are you holding bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness in your heart and cherishing it against anyone?  Even against God?

– How does unforgiveness hurt you and your relationships with people?

– How does unforgiveness hurt your relationship with God?

– Take a huge leap of faith and ask God to help you forgive anyone you have been holding bitterness or a grudge against.

– What are the blessings of forgiveness?

The Respect Dare, Day 34 – Can His Heart Safely Trust Me?

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Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32

I love the Proverbs 31 passage about the virtuous wife.  One of the most stirring parts of this chapter, in my mind is:

11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12  She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

Let’s apply Ephesians 4:31-32 to my marriage.   I am going to put my husband’s name in this verse – but you can please use your husband’s name. 🙂

I think it is important to focus on scripture that shows us how to live as disciples of Christ and apply it to our marriages just as much, if not more so, than to other relationships in our lives.

  • Get rid of all bitterness against Greg – Am I holding bitterness against him at all?  Even the tiniest bit?  Jesus says that I must forgive men their sins against me so that God will forgive me of my sins against Him.  I am such a huge sinner, that I seriously owe Jesus “billions of dollars of sin debt.”  So, I cannot afford not to forgive my husband of $5 or $100 or even $50,000 of debt to me.  The smallest little smidgeon of bitterness can grow like a toxic cancer and consume me.  It can become my biggest priority, an idol, the driving force in my life – if I allow it to stay in my heart.  I have done that in the past.  I have cherished bitterness and nourished it – fed and watered it and encouraged it to grow, never realizing that it would destroy me and every relationship in my life and my fellowship with God.  If there are things I have not forgiven my husband for – it is time to write it all down and ask God to empower me to forgive.  I may have to start by saying, “I am not sure how to forgive, Lord.  I want to forgive.  I want to obey You.  I need Your forgiveness.  Please show me how to forgive my husband for X, Y and Z.”  or “Help me want to want to forgive, Lord!”
  • Get rid of all rage against Greg –  Here is the KJV dictionary’s definition of “rage”

RAGE, n. Heb. to grind or gnash the teeth.

1. Violent anger accompanied with furious words, gestures or agitation; anger excited to fury. Passion sometimes rises to rage.

I am going to have to NOT use physical violence against my husband if I am to honor God and be the godly wife God desires me to be.   That means – no throwing things, no hitting my husband or seeking to physically wound my husband.  But I also let go of the desire to hurt him in any way.  I want to seek his welfare, not his destruction.

  • Get rid of all anger against Greg – Anger – and really all emotions – are  gifts from God.  Anger is meant to tell us when our boundaries are being violated or we are being sinned against or God is being sinned against.   There is such a thing as righteous anger at sin and at ungodliness and at seeing people being oppressed or mistreated.   Unfortunately, in our sinful, fallen state, we allow anger to consume us and we fall to the temptation to respond sinfully in our anger.

“In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

That does not necessarily mean that we have to talk to the point of reconciliation of the issue before bed.  Sometimes our husbands need time to think and need to “sleep on” things.  My husband often needs time to process things for a few days, sometimes weeks before he is ready to talk about them.  But we can release our anger and commit to working through the argument, misunderstanding with God’s power and wisdom before we go to bed.  We can say, “I know I don’t agree with you.  I want to understand your point much better.  I want you to have the time you need to think.  I am on your team.   I want to be sure we are ok before I try to sleep.”

Now, I seek to look at Greg as my friend and companion, not my enemy.  I trust that we are in this together, even if we don’t agree on something.  The relationship, the marriage, our covenant before God is MUCH more important than any particular decision or issue to me now.

  • Get rid of all brawling against Greg –  What does it mean to “brawl”?  The KJV dictionary says:

BRAWL, v.i. L. proelior.

1. To quarrel noisily and indecently.

2. To speak loud and indecently.

So, God desires me to speak to Greg with civility, politely, calmly, without raising my voice to yell/cuss/scream and act like I am on Jerry Springer’s tv show.  If you have ever seen Jerry Springer’s show – the way the people act on that show is exactly how we as godly wives are NOT to EVER act.  If you have not seen it – please do not watch it!  You will have to disinfect your brain afterwards if you do!

  • Get rid of all slander against Greg – The definition of “slander” in the KJV bible dictionary:

1. A false tale or report maliciously uttered. and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing min to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing his means of lining; defamation. Slander, that worst of poisons, ever finds an easy entrance to ignoble minds.

2 Disgrace; reproach; disreputation; ill name.

SLA’NDER, v.t. To defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting one; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.

So, it is God’s will for me NOT use my tongue, my words, or my social media accounts to attempt to verbally emasculate, berate and discredit my husband.  I have MUCH power as a wife to affect the public perception of my husband in our circle of influence.  I can either build him up and make him look better by talking about his strengths and the things I admire – or I can utterly crush and destroy him with my words – whether they are true or lies.

It is glorifying to God for me to respect Greg in public, to extended family, on Facebook – everywhere!  God desires me to honor Greg.

  • Get rid of every form of malice in my heart against Greg –   What is “malice?”  Here is google’s definition:

Noun

1. The intention or desire to do evil; ill will

2. Wrongful intention

So I must get rid of any desire to do wrong, to hurt or to destroy my husband.

INSTEAD:

I must be kind to Greg, compassionate to him, forgiving him just as in Christ God forgave me.

This is God’s will for me.

We often ask, “How do I know God’s will for me in my marriage?”

HERE IT IS!  A big part of it, at least.

Lord,

Give us Your power to see with Your holy and blazing light into the darkest corners of our souls.  Let us allow You to remove the rot and decay and cancer.  Let us repent of every sin.  Show us all the layers of pride, self-righteousness, bitterness, unforgiveness, malice, slander, gossip, all of it… and cleanse us with the blood of Jesus.  Make us spotless.  Let our hearts be white as snow.  Let us truly be a safe place for our husbands to share their hearts and share their souls.  Let us be on our husbands’ team.  Let us do good and not harm or evil to them every day of our lives.  Empower us by Your Spirit to live as godly wives, shining brightly for Christ in our families, our marriages, our churches, our neighborhoods, our jobs and everywhere we go – for Your greatest glory alone!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RESPECT DARE 34:

“Be a safe place for your man to fall.  When the entire world seems like it is out to get them, (he’ll) come running home to you!”   – Nina Roesner

  • When your husband shares his vulnerability with you – do you offer unsolicited advice, criticism, judgment, condemnation or are  you able to listen supportively?
  • If you are feeling brave, ask your husband if he feels safe sharing his emotions with you.  (I have some posts about how VERY differently men process emotions at the bottom of this post! Please check them out!)
  • What can you do to be a safe place for your husband to share his deepest thoughts, feelings and struggles?

Nina Roesner’s Dare today is difficult, possibly painful but SO WORTH IT!

Write down the things your husband does that upset you on the left side of a sheet of paper.  Then write down your responses to those things he does that you don’t like on the right side.

Do that and then come back….

Cut or tear his column away and destroy it.  Realize you have no control or responsibility over his behaviors.

Now, look at your side of the list and pray for God to show you what He wants you to change.

RELATED POSTS:

Bitterness (4 parts)

Forgiveness

Your Words Can Cause Catastrophic Damage

Why Our Rapid-Fire Method of Talking Doesn’t Work with Our Men

Men Share about How They Process Emotions

A Husband Talks about Emotions

Another Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Bitterness is Contagious and Toxic!

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Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.   Hebrews 12:14-15

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ONE PERSON’S BITTERNESS THAT DEFILES MANY?

In this passage – there is a TON of spiritual meat!

  • it is impossible to live in peace with others and be bitter
  • it is impossible to be holy and be bitter
  • it is impossible to see God without holiness
  • it is impossible to grasp the grace of God and be bitter
  • bitterness grows to cause trouble (in the church, in families, in businesses, in neighborhoods, ANYWHERE)
  • bitterness yields a toxic harvest that contaminates many people

1. My bitterness may lead others to become bitter towards the same person/thing I am bitter about

When I am bitter – I am seething with unforgiveness and a sense of justifiable anger.  I am fueled primarily by PRIDE – pride that I don’t deserve this treatment and that I am better than the person with whom I am bitter, that I ought to be sovereign instead of God, that I know best for myself and for others, that I should decide and dole out what the punishment for sin against me should be… LOTS OF PRIDE.

I cherish my grudge more than my relationship with God.  My bitterness leads me to more sin.  As the bitterness tree grows – it takes over my heart, my life, my thoughts, my words and my actions.  The tree begins to develop fruit.  Fruit like – hatred, avoidance, lack of love, lack of faith in God, deceit, lying, being divisive, gossip, possibly even violence or adultery – depending on my situation.  And the fruit drops into my life and the lives of those around me, rotting and allowing the small seeds of bitterness to spread and germinate in other places.

When I am bitter, I WANT to gossip about the person with whom I am bitter.  I WANT to run them down.  I WANT to hurt their reputation and try to build myself up by stomping them into the ground.  Gossip defiles my listeners.  And the people listening to me may become convinced to become angry, unforgiving or bitter towards the target of my bitterness, too.  Or, at the very least, they will lose respect and regard for the target of my bitterness or for me!  This happens at work, in extended families, in the church and especially in the home.

Children who have a parent who sets out to turn them against the other parent often develop great bitterness and unforgiveness themselves towards that other parent – not realizing until they are adults how much they have been defrauded by the bitter parent.  They can literally be robbed of the love of one parent and a relationship with that parent by having a bitter parent try to turn them against the other parent.

2. Others may become bitter towards me because it is HARD to love a bitter person.  My bitterness is so obnoxious, foul and toxic.

When I am bitter, I become more and more consumed with my anger, my justification of my own sin, my pride, my rights, my desire for revenge, my needs, my purposes, my will, MYSELF – that I can hardly see anything or anyone else around me eventually.

There is certainly no room for Christ to co-exist in my heart with a tree of bitterness.  Even a tiny seed or root of it offends His holiness.  I have to choose – Christ or bitterness.

It is HARD to love someone engulfed in bitterness.  They are sharp and prickly.  They practically develop a force field around them that love bounces off of.  It is exhausting to be around them.  They are depressing and draining.  They are an endless pit of need and negativity.  It is EASY to begin to develop bitterness towards a bitter person.  Of course, Jesus can give us to power to continue to love them  – but if we start reacting in our own flesh, we can be very tempted to be bitter with one who is bitter.

3. Bitterness can become my idol.

I can become completely entangled if bitterness continues to grow unchecked.  My very identity becomes BITTERNESS toward a person, an event or even God.  The tree of bitterness, and many generations of offspring trees that grow from the seeds of the fruit of the first tree – produces a FOREST of sin in my life that is inescapable.

If I am a very bitter person, I only want to talk about one thing – my bitterness.  (Bitterness grows in stages and is progressive, so it may start out only consuming a portion of my attention, but if given plenty of fuel and a  nourishing environment of continued anger, pride, rebellion against God and unforgiveness – it will completely take over my soul.)

It can become my IDOL.  I want to wallow in it and luxuriate in the mire of it.  I want to run the other person down – or run God down.  I wants the world to know what a victim I am and how powerless and wonderful and innocent I am and what justice I have been denied.

Bitterness blocks my view of God’s sovereignty.  When I am bitter, I cannot accept God’s grace for myself or for my offender.  I cannot receive grace.  I cannot give grace.  I cannot forgive.  So God will not forgive me.  It is a dark, depressing, lonely, cold, miserable prison.

If I am bitter with a person – I am ultimately also bitter at God.

For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, CANNOT love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God MUST also love his brother.  I John 4:20b-21

We don’t understand that God counts the way we treat other people as if we are treating Him that way.  The person to whom I show the least amount of love is the way I love God – that is how He judges me.

Whew!  What a scary thought that is!

The whole book of I John is an incredible study on NOT living in bitterness and hatred, but living in the love of God.

Idolatry destroys my fellowship with God and destroys every facet of my life – my soul, my relationships, my finances (eventually), my health, my emotions, my family…  Idolatry has a steep price – it causes discontentment, an insatiable desire for more that cannot satisfy, frustration, anxiety, worry, lack of joy, lack of peace, misery and sometimes even death.

4. Others may become bitter with God because of my bitterness

If I am bitter – I won’t forgive.  I won’t accept God’s grace for myself and I won’t extend God’s grace to others.  God says I am wicked if I refuse to forgive as I have been forgiven (Matthew 18).  I am a slave to sin and the flesh, and I can’t have God’s power or His Spirit or the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I don’t see the sovereignty of God to work through this situation for my good and His glory.

So – I cannot shine for Christ.

In fact, if I call myself a Christian but am holding on to bitterness, I convolute and distort the image of Christ that I am projecting and will REPEL others from the gospel and the truth of God.

Why would anyone want to come to Christ if living for Him looks like ME – living in bitterness?

Especially my spouse and children will be affected.  If they are not believers, my horrific “witness” will erect a massive stumbling block for them to come to Christ.  I am an awful billboard for Christianity and for Jesus when I live in disobedience to Him.  If they are believers, my poor example will influence them greatly towards ungodliness, too.

My sin will trip others and entangle them.  They may resent God and be bitter at Him, too.  Because my bitterness is contagious and because I can make it hard for them to see the sovereignty of God, the love of God, to accept the grace of God.  And, I make it REALLY hard to love me.  And if they don’t love me, they can’t love God.

THANK GOD HE HAS PROVIDED VICTORY FOR US IN JESUS!

If Jesus is not your Savior and Lord – you can pray and ask Him to be.  Check out the post on my home page about how to have a relationship with Christ!

For those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord – here is what we can do when we are convicted of sin:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:8-9

PRAISE GOD!

The blood of Jesus is strong enough and more than sufficient to cover any sin we might commit.  We can ask for forgiveness.  We can agree with Him that what we are doing is sin.  We can turn from our sin and decide we want to walk on God’s narrow path that leads to life.  And then we need HIS power to be able to obey Him.  So that means, we allow Him to remove all the sin in every corner of our hearts.  We abide in Him – we stay in His Word often.  We pray continually through the day.  We seek His will, His wisdom and His glory and we lay down our own selfish desires and our wisdom .  We long to obey Him in everything.  We ask Him to fill us with His Spirit.  We are still and listen for His voice and read His Word with a deep hunger.  We want HIM more than ANYTHING in life.

Precious sisters in Jesus,

The bitterness has to go!  I am looking at myself first.  We cannot afford to hold on to this destructive sin anymore.  How I pray that God might speak to each of our hearts and tear out every trace of bitterness -replacing it with His Spirit, the fruit of His Spirit and His abundant life!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED POSTS:

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Finding God’s Victory Over Bitterness

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

We Are Always Wretched Sinners on Our Own – We Never “Arrive”

A Peacefulwife VIDEO about nonverbal disrespect

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