WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN DEEPLY HURT
IT IS A STRUGGLE TO FORGIVE.
WHY SHE (OR HE) WAS WRONG, AND WHY WE ARE RIGHT.
I HAVE DONE IT:
NURSING MY GRUDGE,
FEEDING THE FIRE OF MY CONTROL IDOL
OF INJUSTICES FROM MY PERPETRATORS,
OR OF KINDNESSES I BESTOWED ON THEM,
UNTIL THAT IDOL GROWS INTO A MONSTER,
IN THESE TWO WEEKS BEFORE LENT BEGINS,
WE WILL CONCENTRATE ON HOW WE CAN BE SET FREE
FOR IF WE ARE NOT, IT BECOMES OUR IDENTITY,
AND SUCH AN UGLY AND VICIOUS ONE IT IS!
FIRST, WE MUST FACE THE FACT THAT WHEN WE HAVE
BEEN DEEPLY HURT,
WE DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE.
WHEN A WOMAN STOLE THE FOUR PIECES OF JEWELRY
MY LATE HUSBAND HAD GIVEN ME AT SIGNIFICANT POINTS IN OUR MARRIAGE,
I STOOD IN FRONT OF MY PLUNDERED JEWELRY BOX, FESTERING.
I KNEW I SHOULD FORGIVE HER,
BUT I RESISTED.
I WANTED HER TO HURT AS I HAD BEEN HURT.
AS PAUL DESCRIBES SIN,
I WAS WISHING MALICE UPON HER.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT MALICE IS?
IT IS WISHING SOMETHING BAD WOULD HAPPEN TO ANOTHER.
THAT IS OF THE DEVIL!
I COULD ALMOST FEEL MY HEART TURNING TO STONE.
WHEN I LAMENTED, AS THE PSALMS TEACH US TO DO,
WHEN I TOLD GOD,
“But this hurts too much, she does not deserve to be forgiven.”
GOD BEGAN TO SPEAK TO ME,
BY BRINGING TO MY REMEMBRANCE THIS SCENE FROM LES MISERABLES OF THE BISHOP’S GRACE TO JEAN VALJEAN
IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY TRULY FORGIVING NIKI,
AND GOD MELTING MY HEART.
VICTOR HUGO DESCRIBES THE STRUGGLE JEAN VALJEAN HAD IN FORGIVING:
Hugo writes in Les Miserables:
Valjean felt his hardness of heart would be complete, if he resisted this kindness,
that if he yielded, he must renounce that hatred with which the acts of other men had so many years filled his soul, and in which he found satisfaction.
The first secret then, is to admit, we find satisfaction in not forgiving,
in stepping into God’s place and trying to make our
perpetrators feel the pain they have inflicted on us.
Bonhoeffer says forgiveness always demands a Christ,
so that feels threatening.
Likewise, in Union with Christ, Rankin Wilbourne says that
forgiving deep hurts feels radically threatening,
but it leads to radical freedom.
IT ALSO LEADS TO GOD’S LOVE BEING PERFECTED IN YOU!
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
MONDAY: BE STILL BEFORE GOD
Tim Keller says that when we fondle our hurts, we begin to paint a caricature of our perpetrator, amplifying his most un-attractive features in our mind. Even kind caricatures are always unflattering, untrue, and unfair. If his teeth are a little bigger than normal, the artist makes them HUGE — a slightly bigger nose becomes ENORMOUS. My dad used to say to me, “No one wants to be characterized by his weakest moment.” But that’s what we do when we sit and amplify someone’s faults in our mind, turning them into a caricature.
2. Ask God’s Spirit to show you — is there someone in your life you do not want to forgive? Have you been fondling the hurts they inflicted upon you? If you are willing, share. But at least, if this is so, confess your darkness to God and ask for help. That’s the first step.
(HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TOMORROW — REMEMBER — HE DANCES OVER YOU WITH SINGING!)
TUESDAY-FRIDAY BIBLE STUDY:
Is it really true that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven?
3. Read Matthew 18:21-35
A. Seven is the number of perfection, the number attributed to God. What light does that throw on verses 21-22?
B. Describe what happens in this parable.
C. What was the irony and what defect does this show in the unforgiving servant’s heart?
D. How would you summarize the main point of this parable?
E. See verse 35. What is the difference between forgiving from your head and forgiving from your heart? What would it look like?
The above is frightening — and we must ask, “So if I harbor unforgiveness in my heart — does this mean I will not be forgiven? Read the following one page answer from John Piper and summarize it in a sentence.
5. What is your summary?
6. What is your take-a-way and why?
This is our last week on Union with Christ themes, for we begin the wonderful LENTEN season next week and I will post every week. (I am more excited about this Lent’s study than any in the past!) But how fitting that God has led us to two weeks on forgiveness before Lent begins. Forgiveness does not mean you cannot lament to God or to set boundaries with one who regularly inflicts pain, as long as you forgive from your heart. But what I want to focus on this week is the JOY that forgiving from our heart brings, for truly, it sets us free!
Last week we read how John Piper said that it is never true that our works lead to salvation — which would be a distortion of Jesus’ words on the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t that by forgiving we attain forgiveness, or that by being merciful we attain mercy, but rather, if the life of Jesus is truly in us, the fruit of forgiveness and mercy will bloom — not perfectly, but regularly, season after season.
My friend Twila has memorized so many books of the Bible, she is influencing me for good. I certainly see how as she abides in His Word, the fruit of joy, love, gentleness, etc. is in her. So, since 1 John is one of my favorite books, I’m tackling it. Though I have written two studyguides and a book based on 1 John, I am seeing so much more through memorizing it. I have always loved how John shows that as we walk in the light, His light grows in us, as we walk in love, His love grows in us. I am taking you back there this week, for as I have seen more, I want to share it with you.
1 John is tricky to memorize, for he repeats and repeats, but each time with just a little different phrasing, so I get mixed up. I have to go over and over it until it is in my DNA. But it is amazing how I am seeing things I did not see in this book I thought I knew so well. John repeats to drum it in, but there is MORE. There is a hidden truth in each variation. I want to show you a little of that, for I think it will encourage you to do the hard work of forgiving, to want to repent of fondling wrongs, so that
GOD’S LOVE MAY BE PERFECTED IN YOU!
SUNDAY, FEB 19TH
7. What stands out to you from the above and why?
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY
Prepare your heart with this:
Twila memorizes in paragraphs, and I see why. When you keep it in context you see more. The other day at pickleball, my friend Joseph told me that he thought he had sinned in some way but he couldn’t figure out what it was, even though he had asked God. I told him that in memorizing 1 John 1:5-9 I saw that God forgives the sins we cannot pinpoint if we are endeavoring to walk in the light. See if you can see it.
8. Meditate on 1 John 1:5-9
A. What is the message John is declaring about God in verse 5, and what is the corollary in verse 6?
B. What is the promise of verse 7, and how could this apply to Joseph’s dilemma above?
C. What is the statement of verse 8 and what is the remedy of verse 9?
D. Challenge question: Though there seems to be repetition between verses 6 and 7 and verses 8 and 9, there is a difference. Find it.
9. Meditate on 1 John 2:1-6
A. How can we know we know Him according to verse 3?
B. What promise is given in verse 5 — and what does it mean?
C. How would you say this applies to forgiving others from your heart?
10 Meditate on 1 John 2:7-11.
A. John seems to speak in riddles. The old commandment is to love one another, and yet now it is also new. Why? (vs. 8)
B. How does the True Light show you how to forgive?
THURSDAY-FRIDAY: FREE KELLER MESSAGE ON FORGIVING
11. Share your notes and comments.
12. What is your take-a-way and why?