Forgiveness

Forgiveness continues to be an important word for many as we move ahead post-Vinepower.  Forgiveness is not just a one-time expression but a daily attitude.  Forgiveness is not just for the “big” incidents in our lives but in all our daily interaction with those around us, our spouse, parents, children, co-worker, friend, colleague, boss, leader, or even that stranger on the freeway that just cut you off.

To forgive is a choice that we make… it is a heart issue… because in our minds and logic, there is no reason or excuse that can warrant forgiveness.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 illustrates what it means to forgive as well as what it means to be forgiven.  The context of this parable speaks to us from a place of understanding the Father’s heart, the dealing with someone who is unrepentant, and the principle of binding and loosening.

In the words of Beth Scott, the mother of Rachel Scott who was one of the first to be shot in the Columbine tragedy in 1999, she said:

“People respond differently to tragedy when it strikes their lives. Some never get over it. Others become bitter and angry, and that is easily understandable. However, we are given the opportunity to experience a realm of grace that is incomprehensible to some when we choose to forgive. Were we angry when our daughter was killed? YES! Were we sad? Beyond description! But are we forgiving? That is probably one of the most difficult issues to face when you have been so deeply wronged.

Our understanding of God’s heart left us only one choice, the decision to forgive. It was the choice of Jesus as He hung on a cross dying. He said in Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard that is was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Forgiveness is not just for the offender. It is also for the one who is offended. If we do not forgive, we end up in perpetual anger and bitterness and eventually offend others with our words or actions. If we forgive, we experience a “letting go” or cleansing process that frees us from the offender.

There is a great misunderstanding about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a pardon. Forgiveness is an attitude, while pardon is an action. Had they lived, we would not have pardoned these boys for what they did. In fact, I (Darrell) would have killed them to prevent the slaughter that occurred if I had been given the chance. I believe most people would have done the same. If they had lived, we would have testified against them and demanded that justice be done. However, our hearts toward them could not have harbored unforgiveness. Unforgiveness blocks God’s ability to flow through us to help others.

It was this attitude of forgiveness that caught the attention of people such as Maria Shriver, Tom Brokaw, and Larry King. It produced positive remarks from people such as Rosie O’Donnell, who stated that she was brought to her knees in the face of such grace. We say this, not to gloat, but to illustrate that forgiveness brings positive response from others. We also recognize that many of the other victims’ families from the Columbine tragedy expressed a heart of forgiveness as well.

God wants us to overcome evil with good. Such a thing is beyond human ability, but it is possible when we acknowledge our weakness and submit to God’s grace. It is our prayer that this book will help sow the seeds of grace and forgiveness in your heart as you read the incredible story of our precious daughter Rachel.” 

God had given us a picture prior to Vinepower of a river and in that river where rocks.  The river represents our lives and the desire of our Lord to flow His Spirit, life, and blessing, in and through us.  The rocks represent those things such as unforgiveness and sin that impede that flow.  God is in the process of removing those rocks in us.  Unforgiveness is one of those rocks.

May we continue to each experience the love and grace of God that frees us and forgives us to free and forgive others.

Pastor Daniel