The Thing About Forgiveness that Kills

When the first missionaries came to Alberta, Canada, they were savagely opposed by a young chief of the Cree Indians named Maskepetoon. But he responded to the gospel and accepted Christ. Shortly afterward, a member of the Blackfoot tribe killed his father. Maskepetoon rode into the village where the murderer lived and demanded that he be brought before him. Confronting the guilty man, he said, “You have killed my father, so now you must be my father. You shall ride my best horse and wear my best clothes.” In utter amazement and remorse his enemy exclaimed, “My son, now you have killed me!” He meant, of course, that the hate in his own heart had been completely erased by the forgiveness and kindness of the Indian chief.

Today in the Word, November 10, 1993.

Two Takeaways on Forgiveness from the Life of Joseph, Part 3

I can’t help but think about Joseph and what he went through with his brothers. I know he was kind of asking for it. They were already jealous of Joseph and he steps on their short end of the stick mentality and tells them he had a dream that they would all bow down to him, not to mention the lavish coat of many colors his dad gave him. The coat probably meant that Joseph got out of some the farm work that his brothers had to do. I can imagine it being a little difficult to work in a coat/robe like Joseph’s.

The brothers enraged sell him into slavery and Joseph eventually finds himself in the hands of Egyptians. His relieved brothers tell his father Jacob that Joseph is dead.

“Were finished with our wistful brother, he’s gone for good!”, they might have said.

You might think some challenges you have with a difficult person or persons that there is no end in sight. You can’t see past the circumstance. Joseph would spend the next several years of his life either as a slave or in incarceration. I can only image there were days where Joseph couldn’t see past his issues with his brothers and where it put him in life.

After Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt he became very successful in household of an Egyptian official named Potiphar. The Lord blessed the household because of Joseph. We know the story Potiphar’s wife would seduce him day after day to lie with her, but he honors the Lord and rejects her invitation. He says in Genesis 39: 9 “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God.”

One day she made another invite this time grabbing him by his garment, she pulls of the garment and he runs away, meanwhile Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of trying to overtake her

Joseph ends up in the slammer for this!

But even though Joseph couldn’t see it, God was going to do some great things through Joseph. We see riddled throughout the Joseph narrative a reminder the Lord was with him. One clue of God’s protection as Chuck Swindoll mentions was that Potiphar was thought to be an Egyptian executioner. Joseph’s life could have ended with this incident simply because of the office Potiphar held.

Another sign of God’s sovereignty was that God had to do some things in Joseph’s heart before being released from prison and being used of God!

Joseph had interpreted some dreams for some of Pharaohs officials. They soon were released but Joseph remained. He would stay there for another 24 months. But those 24 months would be a game changer for his heart.

As R.T Kendall in his book Total Forgiveness points out, could Joseph be reeling with a little bit of self pity and self righteousness? Is it possible that God needed to work on his heart before the Lord elevated Joseph to a place of influence? If Joseph’s eventual interaction with his brothers took place at this point, would we have seen a gracious and redemptive response? I believe God had more heart surgery to perform on the man he was going to use mightily.

After Josephs release from prison. Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh. Pharaoh, looked with such favor on Joseph that he became the governor or prince of Egypt.

God was using all that happened to Joseph to do something good. He was lied about, plotted against, used for monetary gain and thrown in jail. Seemed like his life was a waist, but God was with him.

Now back home Josephs brothers had run out of food. They came to Egypt where Joseph oversaw the storing of food. Egypt was there last straw if they didn’t go to Egypt they would starve to death. They came and knelt before Joseph, not recognizing him, but Joseph cried, “It’s me!” when they saw this prince of Egypt was Joseph his brothers were afraid. They had wronged Joseph, They had sinned and they knew it! Joseph had the power to destroy them

His heart that they had broken filled up with love and Joseph forgave them. Joseph threw his arms around them.

He said something like this in Genesis 50:20, “All that you did to me, to harm me and destroy my life God used it for good.”  Joseph invited his family to come and live with him in Egypt.

God redeemed something terrible into a blessing.

-          He saved the family that would eventually bear the Savior of the world

-          He redeemed relationships

-          He blessed and elevated Joseph to a place of influence

The challenge was made to me, “Don’t remain to long in the prison of bitterness, resentment, un-forgiveness.”

How can we break free from the prison of these feelings towards others that we just can’t break?  (See the previous blogs where the challenge was made to continuously thank God for the person or persons who are causing you to feel resentment, practice praying blessing over your enemy and find creative ways to bless your enemy)

More steps to breakthrough in forgiving your enemies that I found in in the life of Joseph are:

  1. Learn to let go of the self pity. Stop pushing the blame. End your fixation on their problem. Josephs additional 24 month stay in prison I believe God was on the move to change his heart. Do you find yourself in an endless cycle of feeling sorry for yourself because of what someone did? Can we trust that God’s sovereignty is using something bitter in your life to bring about growth? It was in Joseph’s life. Let’s aggressively seek the Lord to help us be removed from this dark place so that blessing can await!

 

  1. Don’t punish your enemies, by gossiping about them. Speak only what is necessary, Speak only what is helpful. Compliment them in front of others. In Josephs meeting with his brothers in Genesis 45, Joseph before his brothers ask his attendants to leave the room. Could it be that Joseph doesn’t want to punish his enemies by refusing to let anyone know about what his brothers had done to him? How willing are we to keep hush about the hurtful things people to do to us? Is it really necessary that others know, is it helpful that others are aware of my plight with this person? A good daily prayer over those who wreak havoc over you is, “Lord don’t treat them like their sins deserve.”

Lord by your Spirit use these steps to help us break the resentment over our lives!

Two More Steps to Breaking Free With Forgiveness, Part 2

Do you ever find yourself in a ugly pattern of forgiving someone and then become resentful all over again because of the way that person rubs you wrong?

Is there any hope and freedom for the Jesus follower that lives day and day out with a ‘EGR’ (Extra Grace Required) person as described by Rick Warren? 

Yesterday, I shared the first step to begin to break free from this ugly cycle. Disciplining yourself to thank the Lord repeatedly for this person in detail can remove you from wrath to mercy. 

Lets look at two more:

Pray blessing over this person: A pieces of  prayers I have said, “Lord I pray no one finds out, Lord don’t treat them like their sins deserve, Lord don’t hold it against them, Lord bless them with some extra money for ice cream today, give them joy in their marriage, give them satisfaction in their work. Give them a word of encouragement from a friend.”

Romans 12:14-21 tells us to, “bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.”

Jesus says in Luke 6

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Praying good things over the person you are aggrieved by will gravitate you towards a heart lined up with God’s love for them. The more you thoughtfully pray blessing over a person the more freedom you will experience.

Be creative at performing acts of blessing:

-          Try giving gifts (you might want to do this anonymously) Amazon served as great conduit of kindness for me .  A simple Amazon gift card in their inbox meant God was answering my prayer of blessing through my own act of obedience.

-          Cookies at the door

-          Anonymous note in the mail that encourages them

-          Send a text message, telling them you are praying for them. I can remember struggling with an individual who was going to be helping at a ministry later that afternoon. I dreaded the contact I would have with them just a few hours away. I believe at that time the Lord was leading me to send the person a text message, telling them I am praying for them, which I ended up doing. I felt a significant release of bitter feelings, that was replaced with an attitude of mercy.

- Any more? Send me some of your ideas

Succeeding at forgiveness, means doing the things daily that help my heart break free from the chains of unforgiveness.

More steps to come, stay tuned!

Steps to Really Break the Grip of Unforgiveness, Part 1

We love eating eggs in our house on any given morning in the Hoyt household! The hard work comes after breakfast is finished and we have egg to scrape off the pan. If we don’t use oil on our old cast iron skillet the eggs stick! It really isn’t much fun to clean off egg with a wimpy wash cloth, we need something potent like those stainless steal pads you can buy at Walmart to more effectively scrape off egg residue that sticks. .

We all will struggle with people who are hard to forgive. We get resentful, we get bitter, we act in anger over them. We confess these struggles to the Lord, we seek his help in getting rid of these negative feelings we have towards these people, but our struggle with these people just stick to our very core and can be hard to scour out of our lives.

One day I protested to God, “All I want is freedom from being resentful. I want  release from the feelings surrounding this person. I feel in bondage, all day I can’t get this person off my mind. It is overtaking me, Lord by your Spirit break the grip of this relational strife that keeps me from breaking away.”

I was having a difficult time working through some hard feelings with someone in the ministry. My friend David Sanford, who is a 80 plus year old missionary, came to the rescue during one of our many coffee chats at a local Panera Bread! We met many times during the months I was struggling. One challenge he made that really helped me begin to chip away at the negative, resentful cling was to repetitiously tell the Lord, ‘thank you for bringing this person into my life’. I had to believe Jesus allowed this person to enter into my space because God was using that person to form me into the image of Christ.

I took the challenge, though not easily but not only did I begin to feel freedom from my resentment, but I found out there was a couple of assets the individual brought to the table that I began to be grateful for.

A Grip Breaking Step – Repeatedly and in detail thank the Lord for the People who make Life the hardest.

Stay Tuned for more steps!