Posted by: everynation | August 12, 2008

Forgiveness – it will confine or refine you

by Frank Christie

Forgiveness I have been thinking about the power of forgiveness. It has been on my mind for a number of reasons these past few days. One reason was Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, which we South Africans celebrated on 18th July. Happy birthday Madiba! His character and person got me thinking!

To me, Mr. Mandela has been a great example of the power of forgiveness. There is a difference I believe between those who forgive and those who are forgiven. The reward of each category is different. A speech Mr. Mandela delivered in 1990 highlights what I am talking about.

He said, “We especially should learn to forgive each other because when you intend to forgive, you heal part of the pain, but when you forgive you heal completely. As Africans, we have suffered in terms of slavery and colonialism for a very long time. Forgiveness has remained our best cultural heritage’’ (February 11, 1990).

According to Mandela, when you forgive, you maintain your true personal identity. Secondly, you enhance a cohesive situation in terms of unity within the society, and thirdly, you create a continuity of social values as a role model to the younger generation.

Have you ever met those people, the ones who seem to rehash the past forever? The ones who seem to live in their memories more than in the present? The ones who can’t seem to get past some issue, some hang-up, some roadblock in their past? Living (or dying) as if they are still chained to something years ago?

Our trouble is not when we know we need to forgive; it’s when we think we don’t have to forgive. After all, this is one of those blog posts that you’re wishing someone else read. It’s someone else’s problem, not yours. Someone else is bitter; someone else has a problem. But not you! You are OK! You are allowed to be bitter. You are allowed to fester and stew. You are allowed to hold a grudge because of what happened to you. And if I knew what had happened to you, I wouldn’t expect you to forgive anyone. Learn to forgive, especially if you are a parent. Forgiveness is unconditional although there are often consequences because what we sow we reap. A family culture that embraces forgiveness can eliminate the seeds of bitterness, resentment, and rebellion before they have a chance to grow.

Many people go through life not knowing they are forgiven. The stigma and guilt associated with that result in shame. They remain imprisoned behind the walls of shame. I have been incarcerated in that place and know the pain, isolation and torment it brought to my soul. The words “you are forgiven” or “I forgive you” are the keys that unlock that prison. Say you are sorry; ask for forgiveness instead of sweeping things under the carpet and hoping that they are going to go away.

Unconditional Forgiveness

It’s true that I don’t know what has happened to you. But there is someone who does know, who knows all your pain and when He forgives you, you are free through and through.

In the book of Revelation 2:17 there are two promises. The first is of “hidden manna” and the second is a white stone with a new name inscribed on it. So what is the significance of the white stone and how does it apply to forgiveness and our lives?

Black and white stones were used by judges in Pergamos (the city to which the message was written) to convey their verdict.
A black stone indicated a guilty verdict and conveyed judgment.
A white stone indicated acquittal or pardon.

On this white stone is a new name. God occasionally grants new names to mark a new relationship or responsibility. For example, Abram became Abraham and Saul (of Tarsus) became Paul.

It was customary in the days of the early church for converts to take on a new name at baptism, to signify one’s life-changing rebirth (and because many-Gentile converts-were named after pagan deities)

Those who are forgiven have new names inscribed upon a white stone!

I am glad I am forgiven and can forgive!

Our attitude on forgiveness will either confine us or refine us.

Revelation 2:17

17He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Frank Christie is the senior pastor of Every Nation Somerset West, the founder of Thembalitsha and the author of Being Frank.

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