Preparing to Forgive
I attended a seminar earlier this year, three intense nights of teaching. Although I got the gist of the teaching, I knew I would have to rework the material and Scripture verses given to get the real benefit. Finally my schedule cleared, so I dug out the seminar notebook and began to go over the material.
There was a large section of Scripture on forgiving which really touched me. I was going through a period of seeking the Lord about several serious issues, and I did not want any unforgiveness to block my hearing clearly or receiving from the Lord. I earnestly prayed, as I meditated on the Scriptures, that God would show me whom I had not forgiven so I could set it right.
The day after the study had finished, my husband and I had a discussion that ended in me being sorely disappointed that, once again, he had promised me something and then back-pedaled, leaving himself a way out of fulfilling the promise. As I sat on the bed that night, too numb to cry, I prayed for God’s grace. I asked Him to not to bring up the discussion any more, and for His help in working through my hurt and disappointment.
Just then a verse from the study rose in my spirit: For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10).
It hit me like a head-on collision: my study on forgiveness was for now, not for some perceived wrong in the past. In the midst of my disappointment, could I forgive my husband for once again talking out of the side of his mouth and reneging on a promise he had made?
In practical terms, that would mean that I could not ruminate on the months of discussion that had led up to him making the promise. I could not have ‘practice’ conversations with him in my mind or aloud in an empty room, once again presenting my case in bullet-point fashion. I could not share this incident with others who would likely commiserate and take my side.
In practical terms, it would mean that I would have to believe the best of my husband (Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. II Corinthians 13:7), even when he did not do what I had expected of him.
It would mean I would have to believe in my heart that God knew this would happen and, more importantly, that He had already provided me the ability to work through it and forgive (His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. II Peter 1:3).
It would mean I had to recognize the basis for my own righteousness, my own ability to stand rightly before the Lord—not like the Pharisee, but as a fellow sinner saved by grace, realizing that I do not always fulfill my husband’s expectations either.
In practical terms, it would mean confessing forgiveness and acceptance. Yes, I am disappointed, and there is no sense trying to deny it. That does not mean, however, that I have to be stuck there. In ‘confessing’ forgiveness (even on the days when I might want to seek revenge), I am providing for my own salvation. Salvation means freedom and liberty! It means I will not be held by the chains of anger and bitterness that could cause a big rift between my husband and me, at a crucial crossroads in our lives and ministry. I am providing for my own salvation to keep the lines of communication between me and my Lord free of static.
My decision (or ability) to put into practice the verses on which I had meditated was not instantaneous, but it was sincere…because God had prepared me to forgive.