Forgiveness is from God

Forgiveness is from God

I had an epiphany about forgiveness today. Does true forgiveness only come from what God defines as the actual offense? Does all forgiveness stem from Christ’s own forgiveness and our agreement with what He has forgiven?

Forgiving My Personal Wounds

Forgiving My Personal Wounds
Just like everyone else, things can offend me. Tickle my sensitivity bone and offense flares up – “How dare you!” And what I am usually offended by is my personal ‘ouchie.’ But on the totem pole of offenses, my personal offense doesn’t rank very high. It’s usually an, “Ow, that hurts ME!” without a recognition of the true motive of why it was done. In this case, my offense is about the effects on me and how it made me feel more than what was done and why.

God often defines my offenses much higher than I do. For example I say, “You hurt my feelings,” but God defines it for me as, “They scorned the Life of Christ in you.” If I go about forgiving based on my feelings of being hurt, I possibly miss the true offense altogether, an offense against God Himself. Whoa! This changes everything! That means I would’ve never truly forgiven the actual offense. God is the diagnostician and definer of offenses and then He brings forth His forgiveness.

I have to be honest, many of my personal offenses center on and revolve around me. It’s how it hurt me, how it affected me and what it cost me—me, me, and me. The problem with this is that my life is no longer about me. My life is not my own, nor are my offenses mine to defend. My life belongs to Another, and so offenses are about Him.

I’m not exactly saying, “I am God’s, so take it up with Him…” What I am saying is that if I want to be a forgiver, I not only have to inquire of Him about what the offense is but also receive from His Life His forgiveness. This shocks me a bit because I know I have gone through most of my life forgiving my personal offenses and not being a vessel of His forgiveness for His offenses.

Recently I took offense about something. At first it was about ME, but then when I sat and listened to the Lord, I found that it had nothing to do with me. What I was offended by was paltry and petty in comparison to the actual offense. After God had defined what was actually done, my offense just dissolved as insignificant.

Fountain of Forgiveness

Fountain of Forgiveness
I want to live as a fountain of His forgiveness—that is the Life of Christ! But to do this with any eternal significance, I must listen to God about offenses and receive His forgiveness as THE Forgiver. His diagnosis of offenses are always heavenly minded. Though the offense may be towards my person, the solution is Higher than just personal feelings or my forgiveness. Forgiveness concerns God’s offense, and forgiveness emanates from God’s forgiving. Forgiveness is from God.

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19 NIV

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    • Pauline

      Thank you, John. I’m not getting this as much as you get it but what I’m taking away, so far, is that the power of the grace of God can cause US to live with an unoffended heart, as Francis Frangipane writes about, but it doesn’t negate being offended for Christ’s sake.

      When WE are offended, because Christ is in us, it’s really He Who is offended and He is the One Who has to forgive – ME, because I didn’t discern the offense as His. Am I on the right track, John? And if so, what does that practically look like to let the life of Christ in you forgive? What about the offend -er? Do we ask Jesus to forgive them or do we?

      What SHOULD our response be, John, when someone (in the church or in the world) steps on our toes? Or should we even have a response except to give it to Jesus?
      I’m sure the answer is here; will have to ponder it more. . . . Sorry for all the questions; want to understand better what you’re conveying.
      You are appreciated, John.

      • shulamite

        One part of what I am trying to get across Pauline is that I have learned to ask Christ what the actual offense is. Say someone wounds me, I can keep it in the personal realm or I can go to Christ and listen to what the offense is in His estimation. I did this very recently and what I was offended by was so minuscule in comparison to what Jesus said was the offense actually was. I am not by any means saying, “suck it up!” What I am saying is letting Christ define our offenses makes the whole dealing eternal not just personal and this takes it so much higher.

        Say someone stepped on your toes. Say they didn’t listen to you and interrupted you constantly. It made you feel unappreciated and devalued. You get offended because it hurt your feelings. You could keep it there and forgive them for hurting your feelings, devaluing your input and not appreciating your contribution or you could listen to Jesus and say, “What happened here, Father?” He might just come back and say, for instance, they are a narcissist and refuse to hear the Spirit of God. You see the one was a momentary offense. It could have even been a one off. But in this example, Christ could say, “No, this is a systemic issue which could prevent them from their salvation.”

        This is just a hypothetical but Christ’s offense is actually rooted in the reality of the spirit, where my offense might just be limited to me. Does that help clear anything up, or did it make it more confusing?
        Love you, Pauline!

    • Pauline

      Oh, John…so much clearer — the example you give truly helps and I bless God for using you to impart the understanding as well as the revelation.
      Never, ever thought of this as eternal, just personal.
      This is a whole different way of looking at this issue: we look to Jesus and listen. And after hearing, it is so much easier to know what to ask Jesus to bless them with . . . it’s kind of off my shoulders when I’m believing Him to act.
      Really, John, for me the listening, the waiting to hear has never been as easy as I would like — so many distractions. It’s getting a little easier because I not only want to hear, I NEED to hear . . . “Practicing the Presence . . .”: one thing to read it, another to live it — it just is taking longer than I’d like; He must be up to something.
      John, honestly, some of your posts take me days to digest and, well it just seems humiliating because I don’t always ‘get it’ the way others do so quickly.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to respond — love you for that!

    • Heidi

      Your additional response brought me more understanding of the post, John. Thank you.
      I have recently lost my closest local friendship, partly over offense; 6.5 years. I’m terribly grieved but having to surrender it to the Lord. The Enemy twisted what I was saying so it was heard as some judgment instead of what I was trying to convey in the first place — how the situation was affecting my feelings; and how it paralleled with another broken relationship. I had an intimate friendship of transparency, acceptance, love and encouragement. But now, the refusal to reconcile (her choice) is sabotaging what God wanted to do in & through she and a another friend of ours; His purpose in ‘bringing His Kingdom ‘through our lives and relationship; we’d committed to intercede and fellowship more this year in hearing God’s direction. It’s heart-breaking. I, of course, feel rejected in the abandonment. I also feel frustrated about the lack of unity among we Christians. I have had several days of sadness that are not typical for me. I recall the prophet Jeremiah, being known as the weeping prophet & have been asking if the lord is letting me experience His heart in this situation, or something else. Scriptures like ‘do everything as far as is possible with you to live at peace with your brothers’, ‘with God all things are possible’, and ‘love covers a multitude of offenses’ have been brought to mind. It went from her misunderstanding, to refusal to hear the details, to comparison of life’s hardships, to offense over more misunderstanding, and then ultimately receiving an email where the event of Paul & Barnabas was referenced as a going our own way … With the impression that no doubt God would use us both powerfully in other areas of ministry. ?! … I don’t agree. I remember a spiritual mentor saying “You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t lead where you won’t go.” I am grieved on many levels because our kids were close friends too, and our inability to be the example in how to handle conflict gives me little hope of leaving any quality legacy for them to walk in. I’m desperate for the Lord to reveal more of His perspective and counsel in this.
      I’m sorry if this is too heavy. Please breathe a prayer for us if you are lead.

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