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Six steps of forgiveness

by davesandel on March 10th, 2021

Wednesday, March 10, 2021              (today’s lectionary)

Six steps of forgiveness

God has blessed you and your children. He spreads snow like wool; frost he strews like ashes. He has proclaimed his word and made it known to us. And your words, Lord, are spirit and life. You have the words of everlasting life.

The jots and tittles of God’s law all come down to forgiveness: Do NOT refuse God’s forgiveness. DO extend it from yourself to others. All the time.

Our pastor has been preaching on Ecclesiastes, and the sermons are incredible. Sometimes his words are very simple. “There’s never a bad time to be good … always be good, no matter how bad … it’s never wrong to do right.” That cuts to the chase, but following those simple proverbs is impossible until I allow God’s forgiveness to soak deep, and deep, and deep into my soul. Then, when it has, extend it to others.

Here are more of Walter Wangerin’s ideas about forgiveness from As for Me and My House ($5.99 on Kindle and worth three times as much!) – Yesterday WHAT IT IS, and today, HOW TO DO IT!

  • Be specific about your resentment. Think about what happened. Ask yourself 1) what was the offense exactly? 2) against whom or what part of you was the offense committed? Against your honor, your body, your desires, your expectations … what? and 3) what exactly were the consequences of the offense?
  • Remember your own forgiveness. From this comes your own power to forgive. This also removes any sense of your own superiority over the offender.
  • Arrange a time when you can be alone and focus on each other. Then tell the other person what offended you. Use the questions in step 1, and explain it to them.
  • Tell the other person you forgive them. Remember that forgiving means: a) GIVING UP, stepping outside the system of law into the world of mercy b) GIVING NOTICE, a clear communication to the other that you have been hurt, revealing as clearly as you can what the other person has done and c) GIVING GIFTS, with no return whatsoever expected, focused completely on the one receiving the gift, the one who has hurt you. Forgiveness is giving love when there is no reason to love and no guarantee that love will be returned.
  • Follow your words with ACTION. Make a covenant with yourself that your forgiveness is unconditional. Even if the other person doesn’t think they were wrong or doesn’t receive your forgiveness, do the hard work (with prayer) of GIVING UP on your “right” to revenge or any of its more subtle variations.

He has strengthened the bars of your gates.

  • The event of forgiveness is not complete until you define your future behavior together, and agree on your definition. Become wiser. Talk about persistent faults without shame or blame, realistically. Establish a plan. What signal can you give the other when those faults begin to appear again?

There is great reward in learning this art of forgiveness.

Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

Nothing in this ethic, this morality, this code … has changed since the times of Moses and Mt. Sinai. And nothing ever will.

Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter (neither a jot nor a tittle!) will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

(Deuteronomy 4, Psalm 147, John 6, Matthew 5)


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