Monday, May 24, 2010

Someone I Want You to Meet


I want you to meet someone.

The second I came across the blog,
Building His Body I knew I’d discovered a treasure. The treasure has a name—Anne Lang Bundy. In many ways I consider Anne a spiritual mentor and a true friend.

Anne Lang Bundy is wife to John, homeschooling mother of five children, and lay minister to everyone. She writes biblical fiction and devotions among other things; and she blogs at
Building His Body. I can’t wait to see all the Lord has planned for her writing.

Today she’s written a guest post on forgiveness…

Divine Gift

There are some things in life which cannot be had unless they are given as a gift.

Love comes foremost to mind. It is a gift often returned by the recipient, multiplied exponentially in the giving and receiving.

Mercy is a gift which likewise repays. The Bible says that showing mercy
conveys to the one who bestows it life, righteousness, honor, and mercy from God.

Forgiveness is unique as a gift. The Greek verb used in the New Testament for “forgive” is aphiemi, which means to dismiss, to put away. It is the same word used for divorce, for to forgive is to divorce oneself from retaliation.

The person who has sinned is debtor to the one offended. What price might one pay for permission to sin against another? No one has wealth enough for permission to sin! Thus the sinner becomes a spiritual pauper, with no hope to repay such a debt.

The Lord understands this, and made the only adequate payment for sin which can ever be made—the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. By that once for all payment, the forgiveness of God is made available and freely given.

By that payment, the Lord asks us to extend the gift of forgiveness as freely as He has.

To forgive is to absorb the cost of the sin—and that cost may be quite high indeed. But to absorb such high cost shows one spiritually wealthy, capable of extending mercy to the pauper, bestowing a gift which models divinity, a gift of highest value.

He who gives to the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back the goodness he has given.
~ Proverbs 19:17 (author)

God gives us good reason to freely offer such an expensive gift. In showing the mercy of forgiveness to a spiritual pauper from a position of wealth, one has shown mercy to the poor. To do so is to lend to the Lord.

And if it is barely possible for Almighty God to accept a loan and be put in one’s debt—which debt shall be repaid by Him with Heaven’s treasure—then such a debt is purchased with forgiveness of fellow man.

"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
~ Acts 20:35 (NKJV)

I invite your comments and questions on forgiveness. Anne has kindly agreed to respond to them individually here. She also does guest Q&A related to Christianity and the Bible on Fridays at
Bullets & Butterflies. This week's question will be:

Why should someone constantly forgive someone they love OVER and OVER for the same thing? At what point would the smart choice be to leave?

48 comments:

  1. "Absorbing the cost of sin" ... That is an amazing image.

    Anne, I'm curious about your thoughts on this one: In our women's Bible study, we've talked much about forgiveness, specifically forgiving those who have wronged us. But sometimes, those people don't KNOW they've wronged us. Biblically, do we just forgive them with God alone, or do we address our issue with them? Sometimes, we're wondering if it might do more harm than good to tell them we've been hurt, and to tell them we've forgiven them. What do you think? I'm eager to hear your thoughts on this ... Thank you for taking our questions!

    And Wendy, thank you for sharing Anne over here!

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  2. Wow. Deep, heart-changing thoughts. What a gift Anne is to the Body of Christ.

    I needed to read this today. Thanks to you both.

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  3. Thank you, both of you, for this post.

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  4. "First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye." (Luke 6:42)

    Jennifer,

    The fact that I would ask your question of myself says the sin is still causing a problem that needs to be addressed. Whether the sin is trivial or huge, the first step is for me to humbly discuss it with the Lord:
    • I need to ask Him to reveal the extent of my own sin (even if I'm only 1% wrong, it's a rare situation when I'm 100% right), and I need to confess my sin to God and thoroughly repent of it;
    • I need to pray for the person who has sinned against me, asking God to forgive them, help me forgive them, and prepare their heart for His work;
    • I need the Lord to guide me in how to communicate with my offender to seek forgiveness for my sin (if necessary), then if and how to lovingly and maturely address their sin in accordance with Galatians 6:1:
    Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

    The process may be difficult, painful and costly. Those are insufficient reasons to avoid it. And when we approach an offense with a spirit that desires to honor God, demonstrate love, and work toward restored relationship, God will empower us in ways we can't imagine.

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  5. Jeanette ~ I'm blessed to know the Lord used me in your life today. May He perfect those changes in your heart.

    Jen ~ You're welcome! Nice to meet you. May I add apostrophes to the ellipses corrected by your magic markers? ; )

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  6. the hardest thing for me was to forgive myself....even though what was done to me came at the hands of someone else. Why do so many of us struggle with forgiving ourselves and is is forgiveness that we need or is it self acceptance or are they sort of the same thing?

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  7. Forgiveness is a gift. Even if the one being forgiven doesn't know that someone has given them the gift, it blesses the giver.

    There was a person in my life who had hurt me deeply. I wanted to forgive, but the pain was so great, the wounds so deep. I asked God to work in me and take me to a place where I could extend forgiveness.

    Years passed. I waited and prayed and waited some more. Then, in a moment that will stand out in my mind the rest of my days, I experienced genuine forgiveness. The person I forgave hasn't changed, but I have. God gifted me that day and enabled me to restore a precious relationship.

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  8. This is going to be one of the biggest lessons in life for me. I forgive quite readily but am often shocked at how readily the one who offended strikes again. It's a lifelong process I'm assuming. Love you Anne!

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  9. Sarah ~

    I struggled with this for years. I understand.

    Because each of us is a sinner, we do need our own forgiveness. We're not able to fully forgive before we've experienced it through Jesus Christ. After that, we have no condemnation:
    There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1 NKJV)

    When the Holy Spirit makes us aware of our sin, He convicts with the firm but gentle urgency to address it. But if the devil speaks of sin to a person who is Christ's (sometimes through another person), he always condemns. The devil's message can be refuted by reminding ourselves of the above verse—even speaking it aloud—because we are assured that our sin is completely gone in God's eyes.

    I looked at your profile and blog, Sarah. You belong to Jesus Christ. You are not condemned by God, and therefore cannot be condemned by the devil, by another person, nor even by yourself.

    You really are free, dear one. : )

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  10. Keli ~ I rejoice with you in your testimony to the power of forgiveness. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Thank you for affirming my words.

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  11. T ~

    Think of the Lord saying, "I forgive quite readily but am often shocked at how readily the one who offended strikes again. It's a lifelong process ..."

    We love because He first loved us. We forgive because He forgives us. Be patient with yourself and with others.

    You know how I love you too, in all the places of my life where you appear, beautiful!

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  12. ...forgiving others is just as difficult if not moreso then dying to oneself. i guess actually it is dying to oneself. agree with T. Anne above. it's a lifelong process! even then, we have absolutely no option but to forgive others. but i'm equally as guilty because i too hurt others. mainly in hurt or in personal reaction. unforgiveness must be the dirtiest ongoing....(reasoning?)"whatever" that the enemy uses against us. although i'm going to be out of town on the weekend, am looking forward to reading/chewing on Friday's post.

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  13. just spent ten minutes pecking out that post and you said the same exact thing to T. Anne "lifelong process"

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  14. Bud ~ No worries. Remember our Lord's words, of Matthew 11:28-30:

    Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

    Be Ezekiel: Strength of God. It is His strength, not yours.

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  15. Wow, thank you for this post! I think you have to find the strength to always offer forgiveness, but if that person is hurting you or a loved one in some way you don't have to be with them. If they are getting in the way of you being able to be the person God intended you to be, living the life God has planned for you, then you need to let go. From my physchology background I'd say, "Don't be an enabler." :)

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  16. Thank you both. Ditto T. Anne... Lifelong for sure.

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  17. Love this post! Read a wonderful book recently called "Unpacking Forgiveness" by Chris Brauns which was really thoughtprovoking and humbling, too.

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  18. Beautiful post--thank you Wendy and Anne. :)

    I think it's important when someone does the same thing over and over again to remember how many times I repeat my mistakes and sins. Perspective helps a lot when it comes to forgiveness, I think. :)

    Moving on is a hard decision sometimes, but necessary, I think, when the actions are so toxic that they hurt everyone and everything they touch, and the person has no interest in changing.

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  19. Thank you, Anne, for your thoughtful and Biblical response to my question. You're a blessing!

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  20. I find that a lot of people can't forgive themselves. That causes them a lot of unnecessary grief.

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  21. Kara ~

    You are quite right about the fact that we must always find the strength—in Christ—to offer forgiveness. Failure to forgive results in the bitterness which destroys the vessels holding it. As a former police officer and frequent counselor, I fully appreciate what you're saying about not being an enabler. I've also come to see that clean and clear options are rarely available. And broken relationships have consequences of their own.

    There are different kinds of forgiveness. Active forgiveness is difficult, dirty work which most of us avoid. If we resort to the passive forgiveness which obeys God but causes us to lie down and enable unhealthy behaviors (sin!) in either ourselves and others, we miss the step of restoring relationship and ending sin.

    Additionally, letting go is not always the option which God would have us take. Being the person God intends us to be doesn't mean achieving all we are capable of doing, but becoming all we are capable of being through His Spirit. It is the result of taking high and narrow paths which prove far more painful than the easy and wide paths. "Letting go" can also be "running away."

    Paul says in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." The answer I provided to Jennifer above is the active path to forgiveness. It may lead to the kind of Matthew 18 process which finally and tragically results in broken relationships because we have exhausted efforts to restore relationship after forgiveness has occurred. May we search out the power from on high which makes separation a rare occurrence.

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  22. Susan ~ You're welcome. I think I sense an energy here which will pursue that lifelong course. :D

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  23. Danyelle ~

    I hope you'll look over my response to Kara. It can be necessary to move on when things have become toxic. The closer the relationship, the harder and longer we should work to restore it. Not all relationships merit our exhaustive energy. But the Lord enables us to do whatever He asks of us.

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  24. quietspirit ~ I hope you saw my answer to Sarah. I understand what you're saying, because it took me a long time to extend to myself the forgiveness I received from the Lord. To finally know that freedom is to be free indeed.

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  25. Bless you for this post sis.

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  26. Nice to meet Anne! Thank you for the links, and thanks to both of you for sharing this.
    Have a blessedly wonderful week,
    Karen

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  27. Thanks to each of you for voicing questions I've grappled with for years. I'm curious about the process of forgiveness. I'm going to try to assemble my question into something comprehensible and write it tomorrow.

    Anne, thank you for addressing these comments with such care and wisdom.

    LOST took a lot out of me last night so I won't write much. The end got to me a bit. However, I've made it to beyond 70K on my WIP so I'm pumped about that.

    Hoping you rest wrapped in God's love and forgiveness.

    See you tomorrow.
    ~ Wendy

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  28. Hmm...forgiveness is a hard thing. My thoughts are too many right now to list... it's late.

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  29. Denise ~
    Karen ~
    Thank you for your blessings. : )

    Wendy ~
    See you tomorrow. Sleep well, dear.

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  30. It's often difficult to forgive, but it's not impossible...and it is as crucial for the one forgiving as it is for the one forgiven.
    Great post

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  31. Wow, this post is a blessing and a "must read" for us all. Thank you for sharing it.

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  32. Awesome post! Forgiving can be so hard! It really does work to look at myself first and humble myself to realize that I have plenty of sins too. It's easier to point a finger, I think, when we forget our own issues and how God's forgiven us.
    This was really a wonderful post. Thanks so much for having Anne as a guest!
    Oh, as for the question, I don't think we should ever stop forgiving, but I also don't think forgiveness means enabling or condoning. Like, if someone robs us, we might forgive them but they should still deal with the consequences.
    I guess what I'm saying is that forgiveness is not the same as mercy or grace, though it's a type of them.
    What are your thoughts on that?

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  33. This is a lovely post about the reality of forgiveness. We live in a world where if life doesn't go our way, we should sue. Well, that's about the opposite of forgiveness in my book! (Of course, there are times when it is proper to ensure other's safety.)

    Forgiving and being a doormat are two separate things. We can forgive someone over and over for the same thing, but we can also change our own reaction to the event. For instance, if a close friend is telling our secrets, we can forgive them and pray for them but also we can opt not to tell them anything we don't want shared with the world.

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  34. I'm so glad I've had the pleasure of meeting you in person, Anne. It makes reading your words even more rewarding.

    I'm thankful that I'm not struggling with forgiveness at the moment. There are plenty of times when I have! Eventually, persistent prayer led to forgiveness of others, even though it took a LONG time in some cases. My human nature can be very stubborn.

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  35. What a great discussion. As a pastor's wife- you see the bondage that holds so tightly to people's souls. Thanks!

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  36. Kristen ~

    I think forgiveness is probably the hardest thing. Could anything cost God more? Does anything cost us more?

    When Wendy asked me to write on this topic, I knew it would be both difficult and important. The cost for me to learn what I've shared here has been high enough to affect my physical health. I pray you will allow God to lead you through this most difficult lesson of becoming a Christian, and of being a Christian.

    Love,
    Anne

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  37. Lynda ~

    As I read your words just now, I felt in my heart the urge to apply them to the Lord's forgiveness. I've said this in other ways before, and now apply it with a different twist.

    Without us, the Lord could still have the worship of angels. What does humanity offer Him that angels do not? —The opportunity to show the greatness of His love, mercy and grace. I think it was as crucial for the Lord to show forgiveness for His name's sake as for our sake.

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  38. Carrie ~ I'm always delighted to know I've been used by the Lord to bless. :D

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  39. Love and mercy and grace, those are so important.

    Great post, Wendy and Anne. Thanks.

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  40. Oh I am late to this post, but what a beautiful one. And Anne, how much energy went into this insightful and Spirit-filled dialogue! I truly appreciate the effort you and Wendy put into this.

    There's so much to chew on here; I suspect I will return to his post again and mull over its depth.

    God bless you both this evening.

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  41. My apology to be so MIA—I had a busy day.

    Jessica ~

    In my home I have a frame which displays the adage, "Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve, and Mercy is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve."

    I wanted to look again at the biblical definitions of grace and mercy before elaborating. Grace (charis in the biblical Greek) is an active expression of favor or love which brings joy. Mercy (Greek éleos) is active compassion—stronger than sympathy or pity (Greek oíktos)—shown toward someone who is suffering or in a distressful situation.

    In light of my above comments about the difference between active and passive forgiveness, I find it interesting that grace and mercy are specifically defined as active. It’s also interesting that part of the definition of charis (grace) is that it brings joy. Although mercy should bring joy, those who receive it don’t always appreciate it.

    The same might be said of forgiveness. If we offer the passive forgiveness which lets something go without attempting to work out relationship problems through God, I think there is more likely a joyless sense of duty—doing it because it’s the right thing to do. That’s not wrong, but it will not bring the fullness of peace that comes from going before God, working out our part, then acting as He leads related to someone else.

    Now may I back up to the statement you made before your question, about consequences? When we forgive, we release desire for revenge, and the desire to see another person suffer because they’ve caused us to suffer. That is completely different from acknowledging that there are consequences to be paid.

    For example, if I forgive a drunk driver who has wrecked my car and even killed a loved one, I release the desire for revenge or to see them suffer. However, it is still appropriate to see justice done. The person is rightly taken to criminal court and sentenced to prison. The person is rightly taken to civil court and ordered to pay monetary damages. Failure to punish wrongdoing perverts justice and leads to anarchy. When one has wronged another, forgiveness does not absolve them from doing what is possible to compensate for damages.

    When the Old Testament said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” it was intended to limit damages to what was equitable, not become a proverb to justify revenge, as it had by the time of Jesus.

    This is a long answer, and I hope I addressed what you were asking without muddying the waters.

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  42. Jill ~

    Thank you for the word “lovely.” You’ve aptly captured some important aspects of balanced forgiveness.

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  43. Rosslyn ~

    I SO appreciate the words “not struggling with forgiveness at the moment.” I said on my blog sometime back that I think I’ve been graced by God with an unusual capacity for forgiveness, for which I give Him all the glory. Having said that, I’ve been severely tested on the words. Go figure!

    It seems that there is always another layer of pride (like an onion) that the Lord needs to peel away—always another level of character we need to learn as we grow in grace.

    (And you were an absolute delight to meet as well. I do hope to make it to Indianapolis, and that it might be opportunity to see you again. :D My love to you!)

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  44. Jennie ~

    You are so right about this being an unnecessary bondage! The Lord provides our release from bondage of needing forgiveness, and the power to be released from the bondage of being unforgiving. Forgiveness isn’t easy. But unforgiveness is escapable.

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  45. Janna ~

    *smile* Yes. God’s Love showers us with Mercy and Grace. All He asks in return is that we sprinkle the three generously upon everyone else.

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  46. Gwen ~

    You are never too late my dear. I’m happy to see you here. I did pour out much energy on this post. But far less than I received from the blessings, and from the ability to share.

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  47. Jennifer Shirk ~

    I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anyone, and see that I did miss you. I'm so sorry!

    And now I have to smile at the title "Unpacking Forgiveness." It feels like plenty was unpacked here, but it really just scratches the surface. And forgiveness is, indeed, plenty humbling.

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  48. Wendy ~

    THANK YOU for the wonderful opportunity you gave me here! After checking again, I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anyone.

    I’m guessing you’ll have a new post up tomorrow, but I’ll continue responding to whatever questions come in, whenever they arrive, until you kick me out. :D

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