Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Restoration: Forgiveness is like Tomatoes

Okay, okay...strange title for a blog post, right?  Especially one about forgiveness, but I couldn't resist, besides it is a true statement.  Forgiveness is like tomatoes and I will show you how!

I posted earlier in My 2013 Restoration Process what the Lord has instructed me to do this year as far as fitness, exercise, nutrition, etc. Well, one thing He has really laid on my heart the last week or so is to eat tomatoes.  For those of you that don't know me: I hate tomatoes.  I love tomato sauce on pizza.  I love tomato sauce in marina and spaghetti sauce and almost any italian dish.  I do not like...let me repeat...DO NOT LIKE, hate even, raw tomatoes.  I don't like the texture of soft and mushy and seedy on the inside with a tough, chewy skin on the outside.  I have always thought they were worthless and should never have been created.  And then the Lord said to start eating them.  In response, I decided to research the benefits and nutritional elements of tomatoes.  God said eat them, I should just eat them in obedience without question...but I am me... and I wanted to know why.  I found out that tomatoes are over 90% water, making them a diuretic, which helps us to eliminate instead of retain additional fluid.  I also found out that tomatoes are low in fat and contain nearly non-existent cholesterol content.  Tomatoes contain nearly 7% of our daily intake of fiber.  A tomato also contains lycopene, which some studies have shown can help protect our cells from cancer...though the medical community has not widely accepted the results as a form of cancer preventive.  To read more, click here

So..I have started forcing myself to eat tomatoes.  It is not easy to choke them down and I have to disguise them with another food of a different texture...but I am trying to eat them nonetheless. 

What does all of this have to do with forgiveness?  I am SO glad you asked. 

We humans are not naturally forgiving when we feel we have been wronged or are on the receiving end of an injustice, we tend to hold grudges.  We can find it difficult to move past the injustice to salvage a friendship, a relationship, or to find peace.  We must understand when dealing with people that our feelings will get hurt; our hearts will be broken, and bad things do happen to good people.  Period. I wish it were different, but it is not. 

Often, we tend to wear our hurts and scars on our sleeves as badges of some sort or like trophies.  When we do that, we allow bitterness and anger and resentment to set in.  Those of you who are married know exactly what I am talking about.  Married couples know what to say to push each other's buttons.  A simple discussion can be so blown out of proportion and someone ends up hurt and in tears.  Marriages are not the only places hurts can be inflicted.  Boys and girls are bullied and made fun of in school, parents divorce, a child is sexually molested by a trusted adult, a woman (or man) is violently raped.  And then we allow the enemy a foothold in the opportunity to kill our spirits, destroy our self esteem, and steal our joy and livelihoods...which is all the enemy is there steal, to kill and to destroy. 

When we hold on to hurts and injustices we allow anger and bitterness to take root.  The roots of anger and bitterness can burrow deep into our hearts and into our souls.  The roots of anger and bitterness will destroy a foundation.  Anger and bitterness can grow unchecked like cancer and bust the foundation, damage its surroundings [such as relationships], and cause us to live our lives shut off from the world.  We will effectively become victims and put walls of "protection" around our hearts.  It is these walls that we must not allow to remain intact. To tear down our walls of "protection" we must give forgiveness to those who have inflicted hurts and injustices upon us.  But why forgive?  Our PRIDE often wants to stay puffed why forgive?  Simple...we say the reason why we should forgive everytime we say what is commonly referred to as The Lord's Prayer:

Matthew 6:12 -

12 - And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 

This part of the Lord's Prayer tells me very simply that by whatever measure we have forgiven those that have transgressed us, wronged us, owe us something, we will be forgiven.  The implication is: if we haven't forgiven, we won't be forgiven.

Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus said,

14 - "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 - "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

I don't know about any of you, but I want to make sure that I am forgiven when I repent.  I want to make sure that when I confess my sins to the Father that He can find no fault and can forgive me.  Sometimes the hardest people to forgive are our family members and close friends.  We are emotionally invested in the people closest to us and therefore they have the best ability to hurt us.  What do we do in those circumstances?  Peter asked Jesus the same question:

Matthew 18:21-22

21 - The Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?"
22 - Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

"Seventy times seven" is the equivalent of infinity.  It really doesn't matter how many times someone offends us, we are to forgive them each and every time. 

How does all of this tie into tomatoes?  For me, tomatoes are nasty and taste horrible.  Much like forgiveness I can.  Sometimes I want to hold onto that unforgiveness because it justifies my emotions.  My pride tells me I should not allow anyone to get away with hurting me.  The Bible tells me something completely different.  We don't need to hold those grudges and let them eat away at us until we are just an empty shell. 

We must be kind, walk in love. 

Ephesians 4:32

32 - Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

1 Peter 3:8-9

8 - Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous,
9 - not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Sometimes it is difficult to do, sometimes it doesn't taste good, but we must make up our minds to forgive.  Are you harboring any unforgiveness in your heart toward someone?  Let it go.  Forgive them today.  Like tomatoes, the benefits and healing properties of forgiveness may not be immediately evident, but as we read the Word of God and seek to be obedient, we will be blessed and we will be set free.   

There is much more on forgiveness and unforgiveness and I will do my best to shed some more light on how to deal with unforgiveness and those that have wronged.  This is one wall that will prevent us from moving fully forward into the full blessings of the Father. 

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