DayBreaks for 10/16/17 – Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

DayBreaks for 10/16/17: Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

One of the things I like best about the New Testament is that it is so practical. It must have been the fact that Jesus had human beings called disciples always with him that forced him to speak in such everyday terms about everyday problems. Sometimes Christians disagree in the congregation of believers. Sometimes they quarrel. Sometimes they hold grudges against each other. The Scripture for today says that we must never tolerate any situation in which there is a breach of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community.

In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus admits that disciples are going to have conflicts; but they are to resolve them.

It is very true today that the behavior of us church members on this very issue makes Christianity to the outside world either repulsive or attractive.

It isn’t a matter that Christians are perfect and will not have conflicts. There will always be quarrels, differences of opinion on how and who, disappointments with preachers and councils, hurt feelings, bent pride, loss of face, and lots of mistakes. It’s the idea that Christians can resolve these conflicts as no other fellowship can, that Jesus puts before us today.

Comus, a Duke of Florence, had a saying that indicated the limitations of his religion: “You shall read that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.” Isn’t that interesting? I think that sometimes it is harder to forgive our friends than it is our enemies because we expect better treatment from our friends to start with. Enemies we expect to take advantage and betray us, but not our friends. So it is doubly hard to forgive them – including our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We hear a lot from the pulpit talking about how Christians are admonished by Jesus Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their enemies. When in actuality, right there in the pew side by side are Christians who hold grudges, hang on to petty hurts, refuse to forgive and love each other within the fellowship. And when they do this, church and Christianity and the whole practice of religion for them is not the joyful experience it ought to be. They miss a large dimension of belonging to God’s family.

Have you forgiven your friends, your brothers and sisters? I don’t believe that the excuse, “You never said we had to forgive our friends!” will hold water, do you?

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to have the heart that you have shown for all mankind, and be quick and ready to forgive – enemies and friends alike, so we can be like you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/08/17 – Non-remembrance of Things Suffered

DayBreaks for 6/08/17: Non-Remembrance of Things Suffered

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

We wrestle with various problems related to forgiveness.  The willingness to forgive is the first one.  Sure, we know what Scripture says about forgiveness: that we must forgive because we’ve been forgiven, that our forgiveness is to be “70 x 7” (meaning without number).  Yet we hold our hurts close to our hearts, cooing over them, turning them first one way and then another to dissect the wound from every possible direction – while all the time letting the pain build and fester like a pus-filled wound.  We actually nurture our hurts when we do this.

But inevitably, when you get right down to it, we all know we are supposed to forgive.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had Christians say to me, “I know I have to forgive them,” (strange how that’s always still in the future tense, isn’t it?) “but that doesn’t mean I have to forget about it!”  I think they’re wrong.  Seriously wrong. 

I understand that as humans, God didn’t seem to give us the ability to literally block out a part of our brain and the memories it contains.  (Although, I’m not sure about that – repressed memory seems to be possible, indicating that it is a capability that does exists at least to some extent in the human brain.)  Scripture says that when God forgives, He forgets and will not hold those things against us any more, than He throws our sin into the deepest sea.  To the Jewish mind, that meant that they literally became invisible, for in that day and age, no one could travel to the bottom of the sea to see what lay there. 

Miroslav Volf, a brilliant Christian philosopher and theologian, was driven from his former home in Croatia (the former Yugoslavia) some time back after being arrested for being a Christian under the hostile regime that was there at the time.  He witnessed and suffered horrible things.  He is now the director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.  He is a man who knows a lot about wrongs suffered and how to deal with them.  Here’s what he wrote in his book, The End of Memory: “But that is exactly what forgiveness does! For herein lies the essence of Christian forgiveness: On account of his divinity, Christ could and did shoulder the consequences of human sin; so the penalty for wrongdoing can be detached from wrongdoers. And since on account of his humanity Christ could and did die on behalf of sinners, they, in effect, died when he died; so guilt can be detached from wrongdoers. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we make our own God’s miracle of forgiveness. Echoing God’s unfathomable graciousness, we decouple the deed from the doer, the offense from the offender. We blot out the offense so it no longer mars the offender. That is why the non-remembrance of wrongs suffered appropriately crowns forgiveness.”

He continues with this line of thinking: “When can we forget the wrongs committed against us?  In a sense, forgetting is given to us as the gift of a healed relationship.  It’s a gift of the new world, which God gives us.  Then we can not remember.  And then our experience is like a person who is sitting in a concert hall and listening to a wonderful piece of music.  Even though just two hours ago she was experiencing hell at her job, she’s taken up into that music.  It’s not that she tried to forget so that she could be in the music; it’s that the music took her out of the remembrance of the past.  God gives us the gift of a healed self, healed relationships, and a reconstituted world, and then we can not remember.”

I pray that we will learn to let the music of the concert of God’s love and forgiveness create that new world in our hearts so that we can no longer remember that which we’ve forgiven and endured.

PRAYER: Father, cleanse our hearts from the hurts we harbor, the forgiveness we fail to extend, the pain we refuse to release.  Instead, fill them with the music of Divinity on high that echoes the very forgiveness and forgetting that characterizes Your own heart.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/9/16 – More than the Stars of Heaven

DayBreaks for 3/09/16: More Than the Stars of Heaven

NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next 10 days or so. You will be receiving messages from the DayBreaks archive during that time!

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

I wonder how many times in my marriage I’ve had to ask my wife to forgive me?  Or, perhaps more to the point, how many times in my marriage I SHOULD have asked her to forgive me (but let’s not go there!)  Sometimes we get tired of asking for forgiveness.  And there’s something about having to ask the same person so many times that makes it more difficult than just having to ask a stranger to forgive us just once.  Yet it is the truth of the human nature that we do seem to hurt those that we love the most.  Perhaps that’s because we take them for granted, assuming that since they’re bound to us by marriage vows that they’ll always be there.  Now there’s a bad assumption – although in God’s design we should be there for one another until our lives end.  Perhaps it has more to do with the fact that we spend more time with those we love than with others – and that may be the reason we need to ask them to forgive us so often. 

We wrestle with forgiveness.  Not only do we find it hard to ask for forgiveness, but we find it hard to extend forgiveness.  If you’re looking for consolation, perhaps there is some to be found in knowing that the disciples had a hard time forgiving, too.  It seems that they were aware, keenly so, of how many times they were forgiving others – and seemed to show no awareness of how many times they have needed forgiveness from God or others.  And so, in their boldness, they asked how many times they HAD to forgive others.  You know the response: no, not 7 times…but infinitely more (70 times 7!)

Eldon Degge put it well in his poem:

“Blessed is every forgiving heart who forgives his brother not seven times, but seventy times seven.

Blessed is every considerate mind who knows that God has forgiven him, not seventy seven times seven, but more than the stars of heaven.”

Who are you having a hard time forgiving right now?  When was the last time that you were hurt, offended?  How did you respond?  When was the last time YOU needed to seek forgiveness from God for some word, some thought, some action done or left undone?  If you were to compare the number of times that you’ve had to forgive someone else to the number of times God has extended gracious forgiveness to you, how do you think the scales would tip?

TODAY’S PRAYER:  God, our Father Who lives in heaven, but for your forgiving heart we are undone!  We are so quick to strike back at those who hurt us and so slow to forgive them, counting our forgiveness as if it cost us so much.  Help us to remember what Your forgiveness cost you.  Help us to understand the huge discrepancy between the number of our sins and how often we forgive others.  Teach us to be forgiving and loving.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/12/14 – Forgiving the Inexcusable

DayBreaks for 9/12/14 – Forgiving the Inexcusable

“God, I can never forgive what he did to me.  What he did is inexcusable!  There is no possible justification other than just pure evil and meanness!”

My guess is that if we haven’t all thought those specific words, we’ve thought things close to them.  Right now, my guess is that the families of the American journalists who were beheaded by ISIS/ISIL have felt those things.  What possible justification is there for what happened to their sons?  What makes any human think that sawing the head off of another human being can be excused for any reason?

How easy it is for us to fall into the trap of thinking that our own wrong-doings are excusable: “Lord, you made me the way I am”, or “Lord, you can’t blame me because my spouse just pushed me too far this time!”  We are all geniuses when it comes to creating excuses for our own actions and thoughts.  And we all have a hard time understanding the motives of others – and an even harder time excusing them and forgiving them.

But, as he often does, C.S. Lewis put it in just one sentence that challenges us in our thinking and attitudes: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

God truly has forgiven the inexcusable in each of us.  Will we do likewise for others?

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT) – Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

PRAYER: Thank you for forgiving us when we have no excuse for what we’d done!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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