Tag Archives: Forgive

Memory and Anger

Why did Paul say in Ephesians 4:26: In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,…”

Studies of memory indicate that memory changes over time. Memory does not include all of the details of a given situation. The emotional state of the body helps determine what is remembered. If the person experiences anger or a negative attitude, then the details they remembered will tend to be negative. On the other hand if the person experiences positive feelings, the memory will tend to recall the positive details of the experience.

In just a short period of time, the details that are in memory begin to change. If people hear of similar situation or are exposed to other accounts of the same incident, part of their details will be added to your memory, embellishing your idea of what happened.

The mood that you are in when you recall the memory will also determine what details you pull from your memory later. If you are in a negative mood, you tend to recall negative details. Once the details are stored in the memory, it is difficult to correct the memory because the owner of the details is determined that the details are still accurate.

When we become angry about an event, we tend to seek out people who have experience the same event or a similar event. It seems this is especially true if the event happened in a church and you hear other church people talk. In other words, we want to talk to people who are on ‘our side’. As we listen to their situation, we have a tendency to adopt parts of the other persons experience and it becomes part of our memory and our anger about the situation becomes even stronger.

In addition, the mood of the person asking about the situation, will also determine how the memory responds. If a questions is asked of you about the situation indicate the person is on “your side” or if the person is on “their side”. In other words you can recall the memory asked on what you think the other person wants and how it will best serve you.

Memory over time becomes inaccurate!

In my recent study about memory, I was reminded of the following experiment regarding memory. The article is titled “How Flawed Memories Can Sabotage Your Marriage” by Jason Whiting, downloaded January 28, 2017 from http://family-studies.org/how-flawed-memories-can-sabotage-your-marriage/
 
Professor Ulrick Neisser did an impromptu experiment after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. The day after the disaster, he asked his class of 106 students to write down where they were when they heard about it. Three years later he asked these students the same thing. Over 90 percent of the accounts changed, and about half of them were inaccurate in at least two-thirds of the details. The revised memories had supplanted the earlier, more accurate ones, but the new ones still felt true. One student was shown her first description, written three years earlier, and said, “I know that’s my handwriting, but I couldn’t possibly have written that.”

The longer you harbor anger, the more inaccurate the memories become and the intensity of our anger also increases. This is why you have to take care of anger before sunset. You need to take care of it while your memories are still accurate and while we can still control your anger.

Revenge affects our memories

In addition to our memories becoming inaccurate, we also have the revenge factor to deal with. As we think through the event that has caused us to get angry, we think about things we can do to get even. We want revenge! “If I have to suffer for this then I will give you something to suffer for.”

Just the act of vengeance is sinful. Romans 12:9 reads: Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. The speaker in this passage was quoting from Deuteronomy 32, verses 34-35 where God says:

“Have I not kept this in reserve  and sealed it in my vaults? It is mine to avenge; I will repay.  In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:34-25(NIV)

Not only will God take vengeance, but he can do a better job than we can. At the right time, God will cause ‘their foot to slip’ and their day of disaster happens.

Why does the anger start in the first place?

Anger usually begins when we think we need to know why something that affects your life has happened. We have difficulty finding out the details about the incident because of a policy or a legal liability. However, I have found that even if we knew the cause, we may still get angry. The real cause of the anger is usually selfishness. We want things to happen our way. We do not want to wait for God to show us His ways.

Here are some steps for overcoming anger:

  1. Humbly search your own heart and seek God’s wisdom.
  • Why is this happening to me?
  • Is this happening because of something I have done?
  • What is God trying to teach me through this experience?
  1. Seek forgiveness from God for any wrong that you have done to cause the experience.

“AND WHENEVER YOU STAND PRAYING, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25(NIV)

  1. Seek forgiveness from the person(s) who have caused the experience that makes you become angry.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

NOTE: Forgiveness does not mean you forget. Forgiveness means that you refuse to bring up the offense again. In other words, “The case is closed”. We surrender our right to use that offense against that person again.

  1. Love the person who offended you.

 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

 

All Scripture has been downloaded from http://Biblegateway.com

Reasons You Cannot Forgive

When a parent, a spouse, a child, a co-worker, or a fellow Christian does something that is contrary to what the Bible teaches, they need to be forgiven. Our ability to forgive demonstrates love for the person we are forgiving, just as God’s forgiveness demonstrates His love for us.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:9-12(NIV)

The real reason(s) you cannot forgive:

  1. You choose not to forgive
  2. You will not be able to throw it back in their face every time you want to participate in your sin of preference.
  3. You need the divorce, or difficult relationship to look like it was their fault
  4. People may perceive you as being weak
  5. You have a great way to get revenge
  6. You may have to help them deal with their sin or addiction
  7. You can no longer use their sin to control them?
  8. You can no longer make them squirm by reminding them of their faults
  9. You want to control their remorse rather than letting the Holy Spirit convict them
  10. Your gossip may not be as juicy as that of your friends.
  11. They do not deserve to be forgiven
  12. You will not have a good reason to have a “pity party”

In Acts 8:9-25, Paul tells of the event that occurred in Samaria, where Simon the Sorcerer had been practicing sorcery in the city. He had been boasting about how great he was. But when he saw Philip proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ, he began to listen to Philip as did many of the people; they believed the good news and were baptized. Simon the Sorcerer then began following Philip.

God sent Peter and John to Samaria where Philip had been proclaiming the good news. When Peter and John got to Samaria, they asked the people if they had received the Holy Spirit. The people said that they had only been baptized. So Peter and John laid their hands on the people and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon the Sorcerer saw what happened, he wanted the same power Peter and John had so he could benefit from laying his hands on people. Peter replied:

“May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Acts 8:20-23(NIV)

When we as Christians fail to forgive, we are actually using God’s forgiveness for our benefit. When we hang onto the sin that someone has committed against us, we become full of bitterness and captive to sin”.

When you accepted Christ as your Savior, God gave you the Holy Spirit to become your source of power to forgive others. God wants you to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive those who sin against us. When we fail to trust the Holy Spirit to forgive, we are in essence saying God is not strong enough to forgive the sin committed against you. As a result, we will become bitter and yield to sin’s temptations.

Both Matthew and Mark record Jesus as saying:

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31-32(NIV)

When Jesus gave the disciples the model prayer he included forgiveness of others. (Matthew 6:9-13) At the end of the model prayer, Jesus gave these instructions to His followers:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15(NIV)

Forgiving a person who has sinned against you, is not an option, it is a requirement! There are several different scripture references that indicate the importance of forgiving others.

James 5:15-16(NIV)

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11(NIV)

Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.  

Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Often when someone sins against us, we want to take revenge. We frequently want them to pay for what they have done to us; we are determined to ‘even the score’. However, we are actually instructed not to take revenges.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”        Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21(NIV)

NOTE: All scripture in this blog was downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com

Forgive as God Forgave

Paul in 2 Corinthians 1-11, is talking about a person that has offended the church at Corinth.   Paul tells them that they have punished him enough so that Paul did not need to punish him. However, Paul does say that once the punishment has been delivered, the person needs to be forgiven.

“The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:6-11(NIV)

In Colossians 3, Paul also says this about the Christian and their responsibility to forgive.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

God has given us the perfect example of forgiveness when he forgave our sins. Paul did not say “forgive as the Lord forgave you, BUT…” There is only one sin that God does not forgive. That sin occurs when someone blasphemes the Holy Spirit.

 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.Matthew 12:30-32(NIV)

If God forgives anyone who sins against him, then we can forgive anyone who sins against us.

Jesus also talked about forgiving others when he taught his disciples to pray. In fact immediately after he gave them the prayer in Matthew 6, he said:

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15(NIV)

The choice to forgive is ours. However, if we chose not to forgive others, God will not forgive us.

Struggling with forgiveness has been shown in the Bible from the very beginning. In Matthew 28, Peter is struggling with forgiveness. He asked Jesus how many times he was to forgive a brother or sister who sins against him. Jesus replied seventy-seven times!

Then Jesus told a story of a servant who owed his master a large sum of money that he could not pay. After the servant begged his master to forgive his debt, the master agreed and forgave his debt.

Having his debt forgiven, the servant then went to another man who owed him money and demanded his money. Even though the man begged for forgiveness, the servant had him put into jail until he could pay the debt, which was the accepted penalty for failure to pay a debt.

When the master heard that the servant had not forgiven the man’s debt, he called the servant in and demanded immediate payment for his debt.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Matthew 18:32-36(NIV)

God expects us to forgive others in the same way he forgave us. Jesus paid the price for all of our sins not just a few small ones.

When God forgives us, he no longer holds those sins against us. He does not hold them in our face and remind us of those sins. He does however; continue to love us and to treat us as though we have not sinned against him.

When we forgive others, do we keep a list of the thing that we have forgiven “just in case” we need them later?

One of the greatest problems in relationships today is the failure to forgive as God forgives. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about forgiving others. We are concerned about being ‘used’ by someone. We are concerned that they may commit the same sin again. In fact, we may even attempt to catch them committing the same sin against us.

Have you ever asked God to forgive a sin, and then you repeat the same sin a few days later? Did God go back and reinstate the first sin because you failed again? No, when he forgives you, he does not hold that sin against you. God continues to love you and to encourage you to do what is right. Do we love and encourage those who’s sins we have forgiven?

We have often heard the expression: Forgive and forget. Forgiveness does not require forgetting. God doesn’t forget, he just refuses to look at that sin again. Sin has consequences that sometimes cannot be forgotten, but they can be still be forgiven. Forgiveness needs to come from the heart and not from our emotions.

Love does not dwell on the sins committed against us, it dwells on the forgiveness given for those sins. The good news of the gospel is not that we do not sin anymore. The good news of the gospel is that there is forgiveness when we do sin. When someone sins against you, they do not need to feel guilty, but they do need to feel forgiven and loved.

When we sin against God, does He hold us hostage until we pay the price of that sin? No, God has already paid the price for sin. Are you holding someone hostage because of a sin they have committed? When you see that person, do you rehearse in your mind the sin they committed against you or do you remember the good that they have done? God still loves them and has forgiven them. You can also forgive them with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. Release your hostages and forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.

Note: All scripture used in this article were downloaded from www.biblegateway.com, January 7, 2016

Is it possible to “hate the sin and not the sinner”?

Is it possible to “hate the sin and not the sinner”?

In the Gospel of John, chapter 8, the writer is telling about a person that was caught in adultery. The religious leaders were determined to stone the woman in keeping with their interpretation of the law. They bought the woman before Jesus to make a point about the woman’s sin and their responsibility regarding this sin.

Here is Jesus’ response:

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:6b-7(NIV)

Well, the religious leaders began to leave until there was no one left except Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. The leaders had sin in their lives and were unable to cast judgment on the woman. The only person able to condemn the woman, had compassion on her but condemned the action when he said: “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11(NIV)

The ability to condemn or forgive cannot be done in our own strength because we have a sinful nature. To condemn or forgive, we must rely on the Holy Spirit. Our ability to forgive another person requires the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe that is why Jesus told his followers to go into all the world, but they were not to go anyplace until they had received the Holy Spirit.

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8(NIV)

In the each of the Gospels we are told not to worry but rely on the Holy Spirit.

Matthew says

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:16-20 (NIV)

Mark says:

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:8-11(NIV)

Luke says:

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:11-12 (NIV)

John says:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27 (NIV)

Jesus also tells us that we will be persecuted for our faith, but even in that persecution, the Holy Spirit will still tell us what to say. He says in Luke 8:14, that we are to decide before hand if we are going to try to defend ourselves in our own strength or if we are going to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our adversaries will not be able to resist or contradict us.

 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. Luke 21:12-19 (NIV)

Why does God give us the words and wisdom we need to forgive others?  God’s purpose for sending Jesus to earth was to show the love of the Father by providing forgiveness for our sins. When we are able to forgive others, we are being a witness of what Jesus has done for mankind.

Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to love people just as Christ loved people. We will also be able to forgive people, as Christ forgave people.  Did Christ stop loving you because you sinned? Then why should you stop loving another person because they have sinned?

Acts 1:8 tells us that when we receive the power of the Holy spirit, we will be a witness of what Jesus has done for us.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:7-8(NIV)

The real questions is: “Do you what to be a witness of what God has done through His son Jesus, or what you have done in your own strength?” If you rely on the Holy Spirit to help you forgive the actions of sinners, He will also give you the power to love them.

NOTE: All scriptures quoted in the blog were taken from http://www.biblegateway.com November 1, 2013.