I guess there are a lot of things I could write on. Last night, I was honored to teach at a college and career group in Washington’s Crossing. It is a group between 30-50 people. With a passionate worship team to a bunch of social misfits who want more of God and less of them, I was not really sure what I would share. It seemed to me that they had the passion thing down. They had the worship thing down. Praying into my dilemma, I simply asked God to show me what He has been teaching me. I got one word: Forgiveness. So I started looking up what it means to forgive. After realizing that much of what I was understanding and learning about forgiveness I had not heard in any recent sermon, I figured I would have a go at it. Here are some of the things I came to understand about forgiveness.
The first time forgiveness (or the word forgive) is used in the Bible is Genesis 50. Before I even continue with that thought, I have to mention that I was really surprised about that. For the first 49 chapters of the OT, the word forgiveness is not even mentioned. I do not know what to do with that but I have to ask the question why?
In Genesis 50, we find this story of Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers. The brothers come to Joseph and ask for him to forgive his brothers. Joseph weeps and takes care of his brothers. If you want to read that part of scripture, check it out (Genesis 50-16-21).
I can relate to that story. At the end of the passage, Joseph states, “What they intended for evil, God intended for good.” And so it is with my testimony. If you have never read my testimony, you can read it here. Ultimately though, in a sentence or two, I was a result of a rape. As I grew up, I came to realize what this man who raped my birthmother intended for evil, God intended for good. Though, I wish there were any other way I could have come into this world, the fact that I am a result of a horrible rape does not define me. I am a child of God and I have been given much more than just a story of being a rape baby.
Paul says, “One thing I do, forgetting all that is behind me, I press on to the goal, that being Christ Jesus our Lord.” I guess I can say I have had to do the same thing. I cannot allow the past to dictate who I am or who I will become in the future. I have goals and dreams that I really desire. I will not allow the past to play that role in my life. So, it seems Paul and I have something in common.
As I finished up my sermon, I figured I would end on a positive note. I wanted people to get things out of their minds and on to paper. That being, those who they have found hard to forgive or even the off chance that they cannot forgive themselves for something they had either done or not done. This is very important. If we do not possess the attitude to forgive others, I truly believe it is almost impossible to worship God in Spirit and Truth. It is that important. So I handed out 3×5 cards to those in the group there and asked them to write down their names (their full names) and work on forgiving those they needed to forgive. When they were able to bring themselves to forgive one of those people, they were told to scratch off their names. When the card is totally scratched off, throw it out. There is freedom to forgiving others. It is the message I truly believe we need to hear.
So, I guess my challenge to you all is the same. For give others. If Jesus can forgive you and I for all the crap we caused Him, I guess it cant be that difficult to forgive others. Just don’t let the sun go down on it. In Ephesians, it says that. Since the sun does not go down or go up, it has to mean something more than that (and it does). It simply means, “Don’t let the situation you are dealing with become darkened.” Basically: Deal with it as soon as you can. Don’t allow it be become darkened in your mind. Cause once it is dealt with, we can move on in the freedom Christ desires for us to have. I hope this has been a blessing, a challenge, and an encouragement to you all. God bless