The power of forgiveness

To forgive or not to forgive. That is the question that confronts each of us on a regular basis. When someone hurts us we face this choice, and sometimes we can make the wrong one. When we choose to not forgive we do damage mostly to ourselves. Medical science has linked several diseases including cancer to unforgiveness and bitterness. Unforgiveness ties us to the situation and never lets us get past it. It hinders us from ever developing new relationships as we constantly bring up the past and relive it. It stops us from having peace in our lives and forces us to endure the pain of the situation and again. And yet we choose often to not forgive. Our hurt demands justice and we feel like if we let it go justice will never be brought to the person who hurt us, and they will never pay for what they did.

And yet we can never cause people to pay for the damage they caused. As we relive the situation the wound gets deeper and festers. The pain continues and the wound gets worse. A spiritual gangrene sets in and we lose part of our soul. We turn off and turn against people and become bitter. As a result the person who hurt us can never repay, because the debt can never be repaid. The interest on the wound can’t be paid for let alone the original wound. At least not to our satisfaction.

Those who have lost a loved one to violent crimes who see justice served in the courts still don’t have true felt justice in their hearts. The loss can never be filled and the pain can never be taken away. Not even the death penalty can make things right.

Over and over again we hear news of people attacking others for no reason. One in recent history is Columbine high school. Two boys went on a rampage killing a lot of innocent people. All to get back at those who had bullied them and mistreated them. More recently a man in Germany walked into an elementary school killing several students and teachers. At Christmas a man shot and killed his family, just this last week a man stabbed and killed two of his younger sisters and wounded another. Unforgiveness has the potential to damage others as well as ourselves. It is a powerful emotion and one that can never be satisfied on our own. Any wonder why God asked us to forgive those who wrong us.

Forgiveness allows us to move past the hurt and get on with the healing process. Although it is never easy, and sometimes painful, it is necessary. Forgiveness is often misunderstood. People often think that it means you have to forget what happened and go back to things being the same, and that isn’t the case. If someone destroys the relationship, forgiveness doesn’t require you to go back to that relationship. It just requires you to release ownership of making that person pay for what they did. A wife whose husband beats her up is a prime example. It would be stupid for her to go back, until the husband has proven sufficiently that he has changed, and sometimes that means never, but it doesn’t absolve her of the need to forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t require that we trust those who have hurt us either. Trust must be rebuilt and is a different issue altogether.

Forgiveness releases the responsibility for justice from yourself and allows God to take over. He is the only true and just judge and the only one who can make sure justice is served anyway. Forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling. It is a conscious decision to release the hurt and allow the healing to begin and allow God to bring justice however He decides to. It means we are completely absolved from the whole process. Which means if God doesn’t bring justice as we would like it, we cannot decide to pick it up again. Forgiveness means we release the issue totally and we can begin to work through the process of healing and trusting again.

Forgiveness is often misunderstood and frequently ignored. And yet you can usually spot the people who forgive. Some people come by it naturally. Things seem to just role off them like water off a ducks back. They seem to be happy and their lives seem fuller and they are often healthier. Which is why God said to forgive. It was for our personal benefit and not for the person we choose to forgive. It doesn’t benefit them at all. Often they didn’t realize they offended us in the first place and whether we forgive them or not makes no difference in their lives at all. So it is for our benefit. More importantly God put a condition on our forgiveness. He states that He will not forgive us if we don’t forgive others. And if we want to be forgiven we have to forgive. And we all know the things in our lives that we need forgiven. Such an important choice that we need to give proper thought and consideration to.

Worship?

In many services around the globe people participated in some form of “worship” service. And yet many of us never give a moments thought to why we worship or why we worship the way we do. It never enters our minds. We simply do what we have always done. But what is worship and why do we worship?

Much of what we consider worship isn’t worship at all. More and more I am convinced that our worship has the same value to our lives as a campfire sing along where we sing kumbaya. We get together for service and sing together, whatever form it takes, be it a choir, or congregational, hymns or choruses. It makes no difference because for the most part it ends up with the same result.

We need to ask ourselves what is worship and why do we. Because worship is less about the music style and more about the audience. We can fight forever arguing our personal bias about music style. In fact Charles Spurgeon dubbed the music department the war department. And for good reason. Churches to this day fight over music styles. But the style of music really has nothing to do with worship.

We decide whether we participate in worship based upon our feelings and what is going on around us. We get involved because the music moves us, or the music leader sets a mood that agrees with us. We determine our level of activity based on circumstances that really have nothing to do with worship. And yet worship has nothing to do with us at all.

Worship also has little to do with singing together in church. Worship involves a total lifestyle, and many of us come to our worship service and think we have done our part and can go back to real life. We tend to over look the life part of worship. And worship has more to do with our life than it has to do with a service and our participation in it.

Take for instance our sharing our faith. This is an act of worship. And one that gets ignored consistently. But if we truly love someone, they come up in conversation regularly. If someone touches our lives and impacts us we are proud to declare it to those around us. I talk about my wife with anyone I can. She is wonderful and has enriched my life greatly. But the same cannot be said about my Saviour. When you get a great deal on something you purchase, or someone does you a good turn we are happy to send our friends and family to do the same. We are giving a value to those people. And worship is all about giving value to someone. Worship has often been called “Worth-ship”. We ascribe worth to God when we worship Him. And yet we never talk about Him with others, and so our worship has little meaning.

We get together on Sunday for our “worship service” and never think about the one the service is for. We fight over music style and participate when we feel like it. And yet worship is never about us. Worship is about the one being worshipped. Is the God we worship worthy of worship and honour? My bible states that God is worthy of all honour, glory and praise. And yet we give him very little. Worship by nature not only involves our life, but it has to cost us something. If all we bring is our weekly duty then we bring Him nothing and again our worship has little meaning. What has your worship cost you? It cost Jesus everything so that you could be here to worship. And yet we offer so little in return. For us to give value to God it by nature has to cost us something. A gift that costs little has very little value.

We have turned worship away from the one that it was intended for and made it about ourselves. Our preferences and what we are getting out of it. You can see that in most of the music that comes out of the church and Christian artists today. The music talks about the benefit to me. And yet the music is supposed to be about who God is. Worship is supposed to be an opportunity to adore the one we serve and to proclaim His nature. If all you do is sing about the blessings of God when do you start to adore Him. I cannot adore my wife to someone else. I can share about how good she is or about what she has done for me, but I can only adore my wife to my wife. And much of our music is about God and what He has done for us, and what He has given us, and how He has set us free, and how He has blessed us. When do we simply adore Him, and not adore Him for what He has done, but simply for who He is.

God by nature is worth our praise and worship. He, simply for who He is, is worthy of our adoration. Simply because He is God and we are the work of His hands makes Him worthy. And yet there is so much more to God than that. He displays His greatness in the world around us. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. All of our science cannot begin to describe all that goes on in the human body, nor can we copy it. God displays His majesty in the stars and heavens. All that we see when we look at the sunrise, and the stars at night He spoke into being. He said let it be and it was. And the millions upon billions of stars that are in the universe the bible states that He knows each one by name. And He keeps everything in motion working the way it was designed by the power of His word, and yet He takes time to desire to know each of us personally. He knows us so well that the scripture states He knows how many hair we have on our heads. His love for us is diplayed on Calvary where He shed His blood and died for you and I, that we could have a personal, indepth, dynamic and incredible one on one relationship with Him. And we ignore all that and we make worship about us, and how we feel.

Let me ask you one question. Is God worthy of worship, and is the worship you bring worthy of Him? You see congregational worship is a method to bring very different people together into unity to worship the creator of the universe and everything in it. And allow us to come together on one common thought and theme and join together in worship. And yet we make it about the music. You can worship the creator with a pair of spoons, and a simple song and have an incredible time with God. It has nothing to do with the music. We use music because it is the pattern set out for us in the scriptures, but the music was simply to be the means to an end, not the end in itself.

So as we begin a new week and end an old one lets begin to change our vantage point from ourselves to the One our worship is to be focused on. God is always worthy of worship, no matter what is happening. I can worship God when I am up and when I am down. He doesn’t change. I can worship God with the same intensity when I am walking with Him, and when I have slipped into sin. He doesn’t change. I can worship Him when I am glad and when I am sad. I can worship Him when I have just had the worst fight ever with my wife, and when we couldn’t be getting along better. It has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the One we are worshipping. If God were to arrive in our worship service, what do you think He would think? Is God worthy of worship, and is our worship worthy of our King?