November 17 Reflections

We live in a broken world with broken people. We are going to get hurt. We are going to hurt others whether intentionally or unintentionally. Those hurts require forgiveness, especially for our own selves, not necessarily for the other person. Otherwise we drink the poison of unforgiveness thinking we are hurting others, when we are only destroying our own selves.  What are the deep hurts that require forgiveness? Lewis Smedes in his book, Forgive and Forget, lists three unfair deep hurts that bring us into the crisis of forgiving: disloyalty, betrayal, and brutality.

He defines each:

Disloyalty is when I belong to a person and I treat him or her like a stranger.

Betrayal: Turn the screws a little tighter and disloyalty becomes a betrayal. My partner, friend, colleague is disloyal to me when he treats me like a stranger, but he betrays me when he treats me like an enemy.

Brutality: Someone who assaults me physically, mentally or emotionally. We are brutal whenever we reduce another person to less than human excellence.

Joseph experienced all three of these. His brothers were disloyal to him. They also betrayed him by treating him like an enemy. They were brutal. They desired to kill him. They sold him and then lied to their dad. Joseph was betrayed and brutalized by Potiphar’s wife. While in prison the cupbearer was disloyal. He forgot Joseph.  And yet Joseph chooses to forgive. He made a choice not to live in hatred, anger, vindictiveness, revenge, and misery. He made a choice for life. We are going to look at that choice on Sunday and then ask the question: Whom do we need to forgive?  Or maybe we need to ask for someone else’s forgiveness.

Does God work for our good when others have been disloyal; or when we are betrayed or brutalized? That is a hard truth to trust. Is forgiveness a “good” that can come out of the hard experiences? Is forgiving mainly about setting myself free? We all have a choice to make: Will we allow our circumstances to fuel our transformation or will we choose to use those circumstances to fan the flame of self-destruction? Can we say: My past does not define me; but can serve as an opportunity to refine me? We are going to think about all of this on Sunday as we consider Joseph and his acts of forgiveness. Some passages to read: Genesis45:1-15; Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21-35; Psalm 51:1-7.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn