Last night we waded deeply into Jesus’ invitation to forgive our brother or sister from our heart. Through the wonderful and difficult story of The Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:21-35), we asked God to show us (1) Who do I need to forgive?, and (2) What is my next right step of forgiveness? And like God always does, He met us in our stumbling steps toward Him. Hallelujah.
But we all know that forgiveness doesn’t often happen in an instant, but through a long, messy, Grace-powered process. Jesus taught that we should forgive our neighbor 70 x 7 times, and that doesn’t happen in one Sunday night service. So our practice this week is to begin to become people committed to a lifetime of forgiveness. Let’s take the small, practical steps right now that align us with God’s Kingdom of grace, letting it go, and second chances.
Here is our specific practice for the week: Hearing from God through another person. “Friend, do you see any unforgiveness in my life? Who would you say I still need to forgive?” And then taking the next right step toward forgiveness.
The Journey of Forgiving.
One time this week, get together with a trusted friend and ask the wide open questions: “Friend, do you see any unforgiveness in my life? Who would you say I still need to forgive?” And then listen humbly. What is your friend reflecting back to you? Is he/she seeing a pattern with someone that you haven’t seen? What is God doing in your heart through this conversation?
The following day, bring the conversation to God in prayer and ask “God, what is the next right step of forgiveness you want me to take?”
Four steps we walked through on Sunday…
Feel. Do you simply need to let yourself feel the pain of being hurt/betrayed? Is it time to stop running, avoiding, or denying that you were hurt, and honestly feel it. Remember that you are not alone.
Stop. Or maybe you’ve been feeling the pain deeply and clearly, and it’s time to stop fighting and attacking the person who hurt you. To commit to not say a single bad word about them…or to them? Maybe it is time to pray “God, I officially lay down my right to revenge or justice, and place this person in your hands.”
Pray. As you feel the pain deeply and yet refuse to fight back, God may be inviting you into the next step: Praying for your “enemy” (Matt 5:43-48), and blessing those who curse you (Luke 6:28). Putting these words of Jesus into practice is one of the most difficult and freeing things we can do.
Serve. Finally, as Kellye suggested last night, what is one way we tangibly serve those we are forgiving? This will look different for every person in every situation, but what is one thing you can do to bless and serve them? (I talked to a couple friends last night who feel God inviting them to forgive someone who is no longer living. In this case, what is one tangible action you can take to remember and honor their life?)
Daily Scripture Readings
Monday: John 21:1-13
Tuesday: Mt 18:21-22
Wednesday: Col 3:12-14
Thursday: Luke 6:32-36
Friday: Mt 5:43-48
Saturday: Mt 6:9-15
(1) Video: Shauna’s teaching at Willow on the unmerciful servant.
(2) Book: “The Art of Forgiving” by Lewis Smedes.
(3) Short video: Fr Richard Rohr about forgiveness.