The Returns of Re-Gifting

HAPPY RETURNS

I was sharing my story with someone who was sitting across the table from me. After listening, he asked,

“Have you forgiven them?”

I paused.

 “I don’t know.”

I wasn’t confused about what I should do. I knew the Sunday School answer—forgive. I just wasn’t sure what that looked like. And I didn’t know what it should feel like.

And the enemy exploited my confusion.

In my two previous posts I’ve said that:

  1. Re-gifting God’s forgiveness is the only way we can possess this gift
  2. The Cost of Re-Gifting can make it difficult for us to forgive

In this post, I want to wrap things up by noting the benefits that extending forgiveness offers to us. It’s a gift that gives back.

But the enemy knows this. And he doesn’t like it. In Grinch-like fashion, he tries to snatch up our gifts, denying the blessings and benefits those gifts offer to the receiver and the giver alike.

So, in order to enjoy the happy returns from giving the gift of forgiveness, we must avoid the tricks and traps of the deceiver.

Denial

The enemy will accuse us of sin when we experience entirely appropriate emotional responses to an offense against us (outrage, anger, grief etc.) He will tempt us to minimize the offense and deny the hurt it causes us. But such denial makes it impossible to forgive. A debt has to be fully acknowledged before it can be completely forgiven.

Emotional Suffering

The evil one will accuse us of having an unforgiving spirit if we feel the pain of a past offense. We must remember that forgiveness is more often a process than an instantaneous transaction. It is common for us to suffer emotional pain from an offense long after we have agreed with God to forgive our offender. Forgiveness can be like a covenant we must renew every day (R.T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness).

Outcomes

The accuser will charge us with sin whenever our gift of forgiveness doesn’t result in the restoration of a relationship. Situations differ greatly and outcomes vary–even when we forgive our debtors from our hearts. Reconciliation is dependent upon the attitudes and actions of both parties. We are only responsible for the disposition of our own hearts.

It’s helpful to remember—especially when we find it difficult to endure the “costly suffering” of forgiveness–that Jesus doesn’t condemn us for struggling. He suffers with us. And He strengthens us with divine power so that we might experience the wonderful returns of re-gifting God’s forgiveness:

  • Spiritual Freedom The chains that once bound us to our offender, and shackled us to a past offense, are broken.
  • Heart Health Our hearts begin to heal when we stop imbibing the poisons of bitterness and anger and start drinking in the love and mercy of God.
  • Soul Peace Our souls experience release from the torment of the past and enter into an ever-deepening rest in God.

The benefits of forgiveness far exceed the cost. In fact, I think it’s the best gift we could ever give ourselves.

 What do you think?

8 thoughts on “The Returns of Re-Gifting

  1. There are so many points that I like in this article, Dave. If I listed them all, I’d be rewriting the post in your comment section, so I’ll name my top two.

    First is that forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation. I went round and round about this for years, and finally came to the same conclusion – I can forgive even if I never see the person again and that’s how it happened for me.

    Second favorite point is “Jesus doesn’t condemn us for struggling. He suffers with us.” That’s a relief because I struggle a lot.

    Okay, one more, “But such denial makes it impossible to forgive. A debt has to be fully acknowledged before it can be completely forgiven.” This has never crossed my mind, but it makes sense. I have a habit of minimizing as if that will make the offense go away and speed up forgiveness, when actually the opposite is true.

    I’m printing this one to share with my husband and to reread myself. Happy to again be a blog notify-ee.

    • “rewriting the post in your comment section”-I just have to say, you crack me up, Henson! You always have.
      I appreciate you taking the time to share some things that resonated with you.
      “I have a habit of minimizing as if that will make the offense go away and speed up forgiveness, when actually the opposite is true.” Well said. You should have rewritten my post in the comment section.
      You know, Kim, it seems that I am incapable of learning anything except by experience (hence the name of this blog). CS Lewis was right. Experience is a brutal teacher, but an effective one.
      Thanks again, Kim, for sharing your comments. And congratulations on your reinstatement to notify-ee status.

  2. One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the difference between forgiveness in the abstract, and when it’s personal.

    If, say, Hitler cried out to Jesus in his last seconds, he would have been saved, if I read the parable of the workers in the vineyard correctly – and I think I do. We could conceivably meet a Hitler, a Pol Pot, a Stalin in heaven…how would we feel?

    Most of us, absent any personal losses from those people, would feel OK, and would also feel the stirring of the little worm of pride at feeling noble and forgiving.

    But if the forgiveness needs to be personal, it’s much, much harder. Would I meet with grace some individuals whom I encountered in childhood, and swore to kill?

    Until recently – probably not. But now I think I could, if only for the reason that I’m tired of hating. Certainly, I have the right, but my ownership of those memories and their anger also entitles me to put them down.

    And then there is forgiveness for a personal evil that is still ongoing, and this is the hardest of all.Many years ago I broke up a fight by interposing myself between the opponents, and letting them beat the crap out of me until they realized they were hitting the wrong person. It was awful, and left me with injuries that too a couple of months to heal, but it was necessary.

    I think forgiveness in the present is like that. It’s simply necessary to keep apart the halves of our warring soul, so to speak, and we have to close our eyes and accept the associated pain, without trying to either minimize or escape it.

    This was a great series, Dave – thanks!

    • One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the difference between forgiveness in the abstract, and when it’s personal.
      Thank you for bringing up this point. Academic discussion is one thing. Painful personal experience is quite another thing altogether. That’s when the wrestling begins.
      “the worm of pride”-
      -yes
      “,,,I’m tired of hating.” Yes. Forgiveness has a cost, but hatred has a greater one. Hatred is exhausting.
      :And then there is forgiveness for a personal evil that is still ongoing,” This is a great point. This adds challenge to our struggle to forgive
      Your reply was a great supplement to this post. The points you raise would certainly be worthy of revisiting in the future. Thanks, Andrew.

  3. I also like that you are smiling in this drawing. If I went by your drawings alone, I would think you were a guy who always had the weight of the world on his shoulders. I know you are a deep thoughts contemplater, but I also know you have a great smile and a fun laugh. (Your daughter says my laugh sounds like Cruella Deville.)

    • You’re right. Most of my drawings depict me with a look of distress, desperation or perplexity. Maybe its because I’ve seen a lot of that in the mirror these last several years 🙂 I probably should work in a few more happy images. Cruella Deville? That’s harsh! I can still remember listening to the 101 Dalmatians on a record player and she scared the wits out of me. You don’t scare me 🙂

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