3. Internal Action

Internal Action

Part 3 of the Spotlight series "Forgiveness is Passing" 
What’s something that you really wanted to obtain and felt great when it was finally yours?

Once you've broken the ice, read this Spotlight's focus:
You’ve probably, more than once in your life, been encouraged to forgive someone. You’ve also, probably, struggled to do so - especially if the person who wronged you doesn’t feel remorse and hasn’t apologized. It can be a very difficult thing. But, in this series, it’s been stated that forgiveness is done. So, if forgiveness is complete - if Christ has truly paid for all sins of all people of all time - then what is it that we are doing when we forgive one another? Interpersonal forgiveness matters, and it makes a difference. Let’s consider why and how today.

(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Here’s a question: If you don’t forgive someone, are they not forgiven in the eyes of God?
First and foremost, it's essential to understand that Jesus has forgiven all sin. Yes, every single one. It's a profound and encompassing act of love that covers every transgression, every mistake, every moment of human frailty, and it flows out to all of us in the river of his everlasting love.

Now, when individuals recognize their sins (this is called repentance) and wholeheartedly believe that Jesus has forgiven all sin, they become recipients of that divine forgiveness. They jump in that river and it’s good. This forgiveness is not a reward they’re receiving for good behavior or a merit badge for doing the right thing. It's a gift, given freely by God's unconditional grace, theirs to enjoy and benefit from.

But what about the people or person that this now river-swimming forgiven person has wronged in sinning? When someone wrongs you and you decide to forgive them, something real is happening, but it’s not exactly the same as what Jesus did when he washed them clean. You may be setting them free from a debt they perceive that they have against you, but you’re also setting yourself free. Holding onto resentment, anger, or bitterness can weigh heavily on your soul. By forgiving, you're releasing that weight, allowing yourself to breathe, to find peace, and to heal. It’s another way of jumping into the river of God’s everlasting love.

When God urges us to forgive, let's be clear about the power he’s giving: it's not our role to condemn or judge others. Every single one of us has faltered, made mistakes, and sinned. Because of Jesus, our primary purpose is to love, relieve, and assist everyone, recognizing our shared humanity. That's the essence of forgiveness. It's not just about absolving someone of their wrongs; it's about reaching out, understanding, and taking part in the love and grace that Jesus has shown us.
Hopefully that makes enough sense to get you started.

Pray this prayer to get into it:
Guide our hearts to embrace forgiveness as you have forgiven us.
Fill us with Your boundless love and grace,
and empower us to extend that same compassion to others.

Let's pause and breathe for a moment. No matter what your current experience with forgiveness is, God has forgiveness for you. He has fully removed your sin, and not only that, he has promised to relieve some of the fear you might have in forgiving others.

Begin exploring this by listening and reading through the song “Love is Never Wasted” by John Lucas.

Love is Never Wasted by John Lucas

Build a home, though it seems the world’s all sinking sand these days.
Your foundation is the faith that love endures always.

Show forgiveness when the world’s bitterly unkind.
This clothes the naked and clears the eyes of the blind.

Love, love is never wasted.
It never stays in the ground.

Show mercy to the outlaw, the stranger, and the thief
for God came as an outlaw to share our cup of grief.

Love your enemy and you will raise the dead.
Feed the poor and you’ll taste heaven’s bread.

Love, love is never wasted.
It never stays in the ground.

Show your children how to love when they are young.
A seed will plant a forest before your days are done.

Trade not your hope to claim your scrap of earth
for the kingdom is a mystery of death and then rebirth.

After listening, share: 
  • There are several metaphors for what forgiving love looks like in this song. Which resonates most with you at the moment, and why? 
Pray this prayer together:
Call to Reconciliation
Have someone read this paragraph to start: 
The world teaches us many ways to love,
but all are based on selfish desires and needs.
God teaches us how to love: completely, uniquely, unconditionally.
Let us confess our difficulty in loving as God teaches us,
as we pray, saying,

Prayer of Confession
Read this prayer together: 
We are hesitant to confess, God, how hard it is to love as you wish.
It is easy to love you with all that we are,
except when you ask us to love our neighbor with all that we have.
We find it hard to love our neighbor, when it is linked to the way we love ourselves.
And it is difficult to love anyone—even you—more than we love ourselves.

Forgive us, for your are the source of love.
As you were generous in creating us, help us to be generous to love others compassionately,
to love ourselves genuinely, and to love you as completely as you love us
in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Pause for silent prayer.

Assurance of Pardon
Have someone read this to conclude: 
In God's Kingdom, all are loved for who they are, not what they do;
In God's Kingdom, all are forgiven for what they do, and don't;
in God's Kingdom, all are welcomed and fed by God's grace and hope.
Forgiven, loved, sent forth—we are not far from God's Kingdom! Amen.
(Both songs in this Worship section are included on the Forgiveness is Passing Spotify playlist.)

Who is forgiveness for? 

React to the following quotes: agree or disagree, and why?
  • It’s ok to be angry when someone sins against you.
  • In a perfect world, there would be no anger between people.
  • Anger can become a form of emotional slavery over the angry person.
  • God promises to handle the injustices that take place.

Let’s talk a little about that last one, and lets start by listening to Psalm 94. This video uses the old-fashioned, King James language, because this is a fire and brimstone psalm. 
God gives a promise in a few different places that makes "letting go" a little easier, especially in situations where the hurt is deep and the sin is evil. These promises indicate that justice will not be escaped, but that you don't have to be the one to administer it, God sees to it.

Here are a few more verses about this vengeance. Notice that they come from all over the place - Old and New Testament, letters and poems…all over.
  • Deuteronomy 32:35 | 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.
  • Romans 12:19 | 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.
  • Psalm 94:1-2 | The Lord is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.
  • Proverbs 20:22 | Do not say, 'I'll pay you back for this wrong!' Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:6 | God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.

Reflect on these verses: 
  1. Why can it be very hard to trust God’s promise to avenge?
  2. For whose benefit do you think the Lord would make promises like this?
Joining (and Enhancing) the Conversation
We’re exploring the modern, secular, often workplace oriented discussion of forgiveness. Walk through this infographic and find places where you would add to or adjust it when viewed through the Biblical lens of forgiveness. 

The power of Forgiveness #infographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Close with this song: 

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