This month’s topic is on a very serious issue; forgiveness. Especially given the times in which we live, I felt compelled to write on this very important topic. The following are the teaching/ empowerment points I want to get across in this blog:
- What is it
- Purpose and Application
- Overcoming by it
What is Forgiveness:
There are many things that come to mind as well as happen physically to some when you mention this word. Plain and simple, forgiveness is defined as the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven (Collins English Dictionary). It is also an idea in that it is a disposition (outlook) or willingness to forgive. Interestingly, though is identified as an action it is identified as a noun. A Noun? Wait, how is this considered to be categorized as a person place, or thing? I believe the justification for it being identified as a noun, in this specific case a thing, is because it has matter; it is a type of tangible in that it is something that is given from one person to another.
It has been studied and identified that forgiveness can also be felt emotionally and physiologically by the transgressor (Witvliet, Ludwig, & Bauer, 2002). As identified by Witvliet, et. al. (2002) there have been numerous other studies done for the purpose of observing the matter of forgiveness from a scientific perspective, which include the works of Enright & Fitzgibbons (2000); Coyle & Enright (1997); McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal (1997); Freedman & Enright (1996); Al-Mabuk, Enright, & Cardis, (1995); and Hebl & Enright (1993). Those studies have shown this to be true for the victim who releases their transgressor through exercising forgiveness. Those studies have focused primarily on the benefits secured by the victims of interpersonal harm rather than for the blameworthy transgressors. Furthermore, the American Psychological Association (APA), identified in their online article that forgiveness is highly relevant to one’s improvement of both mental and physical health (Weir, 2017). All these studies clearly support the position that forgiveness is a thing to be given and is a matter relating to one’s freewill act.
Purpose and Application:
So, as was just identified in the breaking down of what forgiveness is by definition, we’ve also been made fully aware of its purpose; to bring health and healing, as well as to ultimately bring the parties involved to a state of restoration.
Even for those in the world, who are void of a religious or spiritual view and are adamantly opposed to the whole matter of religion, interestingly will often place their trust those in who we’ve been conditioned to trust, such as psychologists and psychiatrists. Because both of those fields of study are classified as a science, they’ll say that it has been proven scientifically that forgiveness is beneficial.
Yet, what many fail to understand today, is that more and more in the varying fields of science are finding it nearly impossible to deny the “God Factor”. As presented by John C Lennox (2019), who is a Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, who is also an internationally renowned speaker on the interface of science, philosophy and religion, there are a number of great pioneers in the history of modern science, which includes Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday and Clerk-Maxwell, who have identified as being firm and convinced believers in God. On a side note, should you be interested, you might want to check out John’s background at https://www.johnlennox.org/about. He is truly a formidable debater on the matter of God in the fields of the sciences, having taken on the likes of Richard Dawkins (2007 and 2008): Christopher Hitchens (2008 and 2010); as well as Peter Singer (2011).
Well, you may say that’s great, but often times we either say or we’ve heard it said, “it’s just SO HARD to apply it!” “You don’t get it!” “You don’t know what they did to me!” “I can’t forgive them! They hurt me too bad.”, and the excuses, reasons, or justifications for not doing so goes on. So, the first step to application is to recognize there has to be an initiator; someone to get the process going. Sadly, if we wait for the other person to make the first move, we will likely never see it come to pass because of pride. Pride is one of, if not the biggest stumbling block to most people. Why? Because it is the opposite of humbleness and that is often compared to humility, which is often wrongly misaligned to the matter of humiliation. And all of these, many have been conditioned to see as a weakness rather than a true strength. We know that this is an absolute lie from Satan because it is in direct opposition of God and His encouragements (Matthew 13:3-19 and 16:23; Mark 4:3-16 and 8:33; and Acts 13:8-10, New King James Version, 1985); for His word guides us to exercise humility and in doing so, He exalts (strengthens) us (Luke 14:11; James 4:10; I Peter 5:5).
Overcoming by it:
So how do we overcome by forgiveness? Well, God declared through His prophet Isaiah (Is. 55:8-9) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s wisdom literally destroys the so-called wisdom of man. Man would tell you to get even, whereas God says, cast your cares and burdens on Me and find rest. When the disciples asked Jesus, how many times they needed to forgive those who wronged them, and He responded 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22). Now those who lack wisdom and understanding would say that’s simply a large finite number (490). Yet, when we understand the mindset of God and His use of numbers, the number seventy (70) is made up of two numbers — seven, representing perfection and ten representing divine completeness and God’s law. Now multiply this by seven (7) or perfection, and what we have is the perfection of God’s Divine law fulfilled, perfectly. Another interesting point, the number 70 in Hebrew (Strong’s) represents a wheel or disc, which is an item that has no beginning or end it is eternal.
Now those for those who refuse to believe in God and His truths, they will deny and in fact argue this. However, for those who choose to walk in the ways of God, they are empowered to overcome. We are overcomers based on the fact that Jesus proclaimed that we as His Disciples are overcomers in Him; because He overcame and gave those who follow Him the ability to overcome (John 10:10 and 16:33) There are numerous other places in the New Testament (Romans, I and II Corinthians, Ephesians, Hebrews, I John, and Revelation) that identifies the Believer as one who is empowered to overcome (Knowing-Jesus.com).
The apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, identified that we are engaged in a spiritual war (I Corinthians 10:1-6), and that “we do not war against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12) and that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of human making). Therefore, it is up to each and every believer to recognize this fact. If it weren’t so, God wouldn’t have bothered to put it in the Scriptures, His Holy instructions for us to know and use. We are called to use His Word, which is our spiritual sword to fight our battles (Ephesians 6:17). Know this, our enemy, Satan, uses men to complete his schemes. We must remember that so we can be effectively empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. He wants nothing more that for us to operate in our flesh in these battles. God says, follow His leading By His Spirit; not by power or might, but by My Spirit, says The Lord (Zechariah 4:6).
As I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, to be stable is to be grounded. Many of you likely know that along with God’s Word this is a foundational element of this organization. For those who are new here and have not heard of this, here’s the recap of what the acronym GROUNDED (Kidd, 2017) stands for.
First, we must recognize God, and that He IS. He is what? He is the One who not only created each of us but did so with a very specific purpose in mind. He’s also the One who provided His Son, Jesus as not only our gift of salvation, but as a human example of Him; for us to see and understand that we as His creation is only limited to and by what we choose to believe.
Next is the matter of Respect. First, and foremost respect for Him as The Creator, for He gave us life. Next, respect for His one and ONLY Son, Jesus, for it is by Him that God gave us life and that more abundantly. For ourselves, for we are the greatest of all of the Creator’s creations. Why? Because we were created in His image, with a purpose and that purpose is to be a blessing to others who don’t know Him; to walk out His peace and love.
Next is Observant – be cognizant (aware) of your surroundings for your safety as well as that of others. Be alert to the things that are going on around you in the physical, which in reality is much more than many often give thought to. This is a point that can’t be emphasized enough given the day and age in which we live.
Next is Understanding. Understand that your life and the choices we make not only effect and or affect us, but others; both close to us and those we’ve possibly haven’t and may never meet.
Next is New Experiences. If you don’t like where you’re at in your life – then YOU MUST CHANGE IT. No one else can implement a permanent change for anyone other than themselves. Don’t lower your standards to live down to someone else’s expectations, but rather use that as motivation to propel you to a new destiny. Don’t practice insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again, and yet expect a different result.
Next is Diligence, which is giving strict attention to and pursuing after that which is important. Look at what will make a radically positive change in your life, not just for today or tomorrow, but one that is long lasting rather than short-term.
Next is Education. Education is all around you and it is continually making itself available to us. Especially in the information age in which we live. Just be smart enough to apply the previously mentioned elements of O, U, and N, so that you’re not taken advantage of.
And finally, we have Daily Effort. Though very similar to diligence it is different. Diligence is more precise and focused. Whereas, daily effort is more general and all encompassing.
This blog has been on the matter of forgiveness; what it is; the purpose and why it’s important to apply it, as well as how we become overcomers and are truly be empowered in our battles relating to it.
Remember as I have said before, the difference between knowledge and wisdom is in the application. In previous blogs I’ve talked about the matter of empowerment and we must understand that empowerment comes through the full understanding of how things interact with each other. If we only operate by what the world tells us, we will never be fully empowered. Full empowerment is based on the understanding that God, The Creator (Elohim) has provided mankind. God has called His people to not walk in the ways of this world (I John 2:15-17) which is full of lies, deceit, and treachery. There is TRUTH that is far more important than any other thing that we could ever desire or seek. But not just any perceived version that the world would offer, but rather the real truth that is only found in Christ Jesus; The One who loved you before you were ever born, to the point that He gave His life for you.
References and Resources:
Forgiveness. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012. Dictionary.com. Retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/forgiveness# Retrieved on 27 May 2020.
John Lennox Bio (2020). The John Lennox Organization. Website. Retrieved from https://www.johnlennox.org/ Retrieved on 29 May 2020.
Kidd, R. (2017). The Young Person’s Survival Manual: How to Survive in Today’s Ever-Changing World. ISBN: 9781629528953. Xulon Press. Maitland, FL.
Lennox, J. (2019). Can You Be a Scientist and Believe in God? On-line Article. Just Thinking Magazine. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Retrieved from https://www.rzim.org/read/just-thinking-magazine/can-you-be-a-scientist-and-believe-in-god. Retrieved on 29 May 2020.
Overcomers (n.d.). Knowing-Jesus. Website. Retrieved from https://bible. knowing-jesus.com/topics/Overcomers. Retrieved on 31 May 2020.
Weir, K. (2017) Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health: Research shows how to get there. American Psychological Association. Online Article. CE Corner, January 2017, Vol 48, No. 1, page 30. Retrieved from https://www.apa. org/monitor/2017/01/ce-corner. Retrieved on 28 May 2020
Witvliet, C.V.O., Ludwig, T.E., & Bauer, D.J. (2002). Please forgive me: Transgressors’ emotions and physiology during imagery of seeking forgiveness and victim responses. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 21, 219-233. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.hope.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2302 &context=faculty_publications. Retrieved on 28 May 2020.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version (1985). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.