How we ask for forgiveness is critical. I don’t know of any relationship that has lasted very long that has not had to practice forgiveness. This is the key ingredient that makes all the difference. Unhealthy relationships lack true forgiveness. Old problems and conflict are brought up on a regular basis and used to hurt the other person. I will be writing several posts in the coming weeks on this idea of forgiveness.
If I accidentally spill a cup of coffee on you, I have not sinned against you, so I do not need to ask for forgiveness. But I should apologize for what I have done. On the other hand, if I throw a cup of coffee in your face, I have sinned against you. I need to ask you to forgive me.
So, is an apology the same as asking for forgiveness? No. The right way to go about asking for forgiveness is to first name the specific sin, and then explicitly asking the person for forgiveness: “I was wrong for yelling at you and using that language with you. Will you forgive me?” I named the sin and asked for forgiveness. If I would have said, “I am sorry for yelling at you,” and stop there, the typical response from the offended person is, “Oh that’s okay,” or “it’s no big deal.” What has happened there is the offender has not admitted to sinning against the other person. Secondly, the offended person has lied by minimizing the sin. It is not okay for someone to sin against another person. This is not the way to healthy relationships.
So the key is recognizing and admitting when we sin against another person. When you admit your mistake openly and ask for forgiveness for that offense it now puts it into the other persons court to make a decision. Either I choose to forgive that person or not. I may not be ready in that moment to forgive if it was a deep hurt or has been a long term thing. I should consider if the person is trustworthy and sincere. Even if they are not totally sincere or trustworthy, it is still my decision to hold onto the hurt or release it by forgiving the person. Unforgiveness is the root of most anger issues and will destroy your relationships. Choosing to forgive is the beginning of healing and wholeness.
Next time I will talk about why we don’t forgive.
I was reading the story of Asa king of Judah in 2 Chronicles 14-16 today. Asa started strong but did not finish well. This story demonstrates that God is perfect and all-powerful and people are imperfect and make mistakes. As king, Asa came very close to being a great leader. He traveled a long way with God before he got off track and went his own way.
Early in his leadership he turned to God when he was in an impossible situation with army of the Cushites, which outnumbered his army by 400,000. God helped him crush the Cush army, that sounds funny. After that great victory, God brought peace to the nation for many years. But there was a bigger challenge on its way. Over the years Asa and Israel’s new king Baasha had conflict and Baasha actually became the aggressor and was building a fort city that threatened Judah. Instead of turning to God and asking for wisdom on what to do Asa turned to his own wisdom and bribed King Ben-Hadad of Aram to attack Baasha. It worked and Baasha was defeated and driven back. However this was not God’s plan and God sent a man named Hanani to rebuke Asa and warn him of his mistake.
Asa flew into a rage and jailed Hanani. He also took out his anger out on more of his followers. His greatest failure was missing what God could have done with his life if he had been willing to humble himself. His pride caused him to not finish well as a leader. He stubbornly held onto his failure until his death. We too can do this by not admitting our failures to God and asking for forgiveness. The ends do not justify the means. That thinking usually leads to sin and failure. Here are some lessons from Asa’s life for each of us:
- God not only reinforces good, he confronts evil
- Efforts to follow God’s plans and rules yield positive results
- How well a plan works is no measure of its rightness or approval by God
- When confronted about sin in our lives humility leads to success, anger leads to destruction
- When facing a challenge or hardship we should turn to God first and not rely on our own wisdom – seek wise counsel
- Our attitude when criticized shows our true character
- No matter how long we have been following God we must always be on guard, because we have an enemy that is always looking to take us out or cause us to rely on our own wisdom instead of God’s way.
No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, obeying God is always the best way. To obey him you need to know his will for your life and that is to become more like Jesus Christ in how you live, think and behave. Doing things God’s way can be very hard and may not seem to make sense at times, but it always leads to great freedom.
This past weekend we opened a brand new facility in Millersburg Ohio after meeting in a High School for three years. I am grateful for all the sacrifice and work that went into making that happen. It took a lot of people working together to accomplish what happened on Sunday. This marks the beginning of another phase in the life of NewPointe Community Church, as we reach out to the Holmes County community through the Millersburg Campus.
I have been a part of NewPointe for 10 years and have enjoyed the journey. It has been challenging, fun, hard, fulfilling and significant for me. As I think about the church, it is way more than building a new building. There is so much that goes into a healthy growing church. So here are some reasons why I love my church:
I Love that NewPointe Community Church:
- Is a safe place to hear a life changing message
- Believes that people matter more than projects or events
- Is willing to talk about the important and difficult issues of life like (sex, money, marriage, parenting)
- Helps me apply the Bible to my everyday life
- Is outward focused rather than inward focused – meaning we are more concerned with reaching people than keeping people
- Is willing to take risks and make mistakes
- Embraces and expects change
- Pursues Excellence, but not perfection
- Values being healthy emotionally
- Is big on relationships and helping people connect
- Is a place that I can serve and make a difference
- Wants to partner with parents to impact children for eternity
- Equips people to become better leader’s at home, at work and at church
- Is a creative fun place
- Is a warm, welcoming place where people feel accepted and loved
- Is willing to take anyone
- Mentors individuals and couples that are struggling with life
- Empowers people to lead and serve
- Embraces technology as a way to connect with people
- Keeps things simple
- Partners with local organizations to impact & improve our communities
- Has a vision to Change the World!
Our vision is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. That is why we exist and that is why we open the doors every day.