Tag Archives: spiritual power

Forgiveness as Self-Help?

Last week, I discussed forgiveness as a “weapon of mass destruction,” recognizing its immense spiritual power.  Today, I would like to continue with this theme of forgiveness, evaluating its current popularity as  therapeutic self-help. (If you missed last week’s post, you can read it HERE.)

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Trendy Self-Help

Interestingly, forgiveness has received a lot of positive press lately in mainstream culture. “Forgiveness is good for you” is a trending theme promoted by all kinds of secular sources, including physicians, psychologists, news outlets, and entertainment media. We can appreciate and even applaud this surge of support for forgiveness.

However, if we forgive only for our own sakes, then the power of forgiveness is stunted. True forgiveness is not primarily a self-help strategy, although we do benefit when we forgive. The tremendous dynamo of forgiveness is activated most fully when our motivation is grounded in truth and in love.

Diluting and Defusing Forgiveness

forgivenessIf we dilute our forgiveness by forgiving others for our own gain, then we lessen the impact of love upon the wrongdoer. We defuse the spiritual combustion that could have wreaked greater havoc on enemy forces.

Leslie Leyland Fields has written about the “therapeutic forgiveness message,” quoting those who say, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” She recalls Jesus’s parable of the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a large debt but who then refused to forgive someone else’s small debt:

That man with massive debts who is called before the king is us. We’re hopeless before the holy King. We stand there shoulder to shoulder with every other debtor, even those who owe us money and honor and … love. … Our only hope is the King himself, and he does it. He clears our debts entirely. … [The man in the parable] misses this essential fact: Forgiveness is not for his personal freedom and happiness alone. It’s to bring freedom and restoration to all, especially to those who owe him. … We may begin the journey of forgiveness to ease our own burdens. But along the way we discover a chance to live out the fullness of the gospel: loving the unlovely, forgiving seventy times seven. In so doing, we reflect the kingdom of God among us.[i]

Self-Help for God?

forgivenessDoes God forgive us so that He can give Himself a gift? No, at great cost to Himself, He forgives us so that we can receive a gift. He forgives us so that we can be changed through the power of love.

When we are given opportunities to forgive, we are being privileged to reflect God in a dramatic way.

 

(Read more about forgiveness HERE: “Forgiveness is the Gospel.”)

[i] “What We Forgot About Forgiveness.” Christianity Today. May 2014. 30-35.

A Spiritual WMD

You’ve heard of a “weapon of mass destruction.”  Do you think there could be something like a spiritual WMD?

forgivenessI recently read the astonishing biography of Jacob DeShazer, one of the courageous Doolittle Raiders.[i] Led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, these American airmen were the first to bomb Japan after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. When DeShazer’s plane crashed after the raid, he was captured by the Japanese and tortured as a POW for 40 months. Through reading a Bible, Jacob became a follower of Christ and “a new creation.”[ii] After the war ended, Jacob was able to express love and sincere forgiveness to his former cruel guards and to the Japanese people.

Captain Fuchida was the Japanese airman who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war, Captain Fuchida was convinced that everyone, regardless of nationality, was motivated by revenge toward one’s enemies. However, as he tried to gather evidence of this, he was astounded to learn that DeShazer and other Christians were showing kindness and extending forgiveness to those who had mistreated them. When DeShazer returned to Japan as a missionary in 1948, Captain Fuchida was eager to speak with him.

What happened then is incredible: DeShazer, an American who had been part of the first bombing of Japan, was able to lead to Christ the Japanese man who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor! The spiritual explosion of forgiveness had transformed hatred into love. Together, Jacob DeShazer and Captain Fuchida shared the gospel with thousands of Japanese, many of whom also accepted Christ as their Lord.

When Christ died on the cross, the most profound fission in the universe occurred as the Father was separated from the Son.

This breaking-apart of the triune God was far more fantastic than the splitting of an atom. What a massive explosion occurred in the spiritual realm! It is no wonder that darkness fell across the land and the ground shook.forgiveness

The power generated by that fission destroyed the fierce stranglehold of Death upon men and women. As Wesley Hill puts it, the death of Christ “broke death’s power forever because it was the death of the Deathless One.”[iii]

The immense release of Divine Energy at Calvary was sufficient to fulfill the old covenant of earning and, at the same time, to establish the new covenant of receiving. Just as a split rock released thirst-quenching water for the ancient Israelites, so the broken body of God released life-saving atonement for a dying humanity.

The rending of the heart of God preceded the stunning cohesion of reconciliation. Just as extreme nuclear reactions often involve both fission and fusion, so the spiritual dynamics of forgiveness also involve both fission and fusion. When we forgive, we must forcefully separate from our natural desire for retaliation and revenge. We then yield to a fusion of our will with the will of God. This is not a passive, insignificant act: this creates a powerful reaction in the spiritual realm.

Each time we forgive through the work of the Spirit, there is a devastation of the works of the enemy.forgiveness

Not only are forces of darkness defeated, but there is also a mighty unleashing of spiritual energy for our own healing, for the redemption of others, and for the restoration of relationships.

If we want to strike a crippling blow against satanic forces–if we want to advance the kingdom of God–then let’s bring out the “big guns” and forgive. Let’s unleash the explosive light of forgiveness so that the forces of darkness are trounced.

How has forgiveness been powerful in your life?

Blessings to you,
Tami

(This is the first segment in a series on forgiveness. Click HERE to read Part Two: “Forgiveness as Self-Help?”)

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[i] Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies. 2009. YWAM.

[ii] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[iii]The Best Christian Paradox.” Christianity Today. May 2015. 28.

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