Thursday, 8 September 2011

Seventy-Seven Times - Forgiveness

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-23
Dr. Dana Fillmore makes an interesting observation when she says:

Lily Tomlin
When we refuse to forgive, we keep the past alive in our thoughts. These thoughts can be so vivid that we feel as if the pain is re-occurring in the present moment. But in the end, who does that hurt? By repeatedly focusing on the pain from a past experience, you continue to relive it and often times expand upon it. Not only do you allow the pain from the past to continue to damage the relationship, you choose to let it damage you.

Perhaps actress and comedienne, Lily Tomlin, was just as eloquent when she said: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past.”

In the Matthew 18:21 passage Jesus is not suggesting that we should forgive someone seventy seven times and go ballistic the seventy-eighth time we are sinned against. Jesus is saying there is no end to the number of times that we should forgive someone. Why? Because Jesus was aware of how forgiving His Father was and that ultimately He, Jesus, would take our past, present and future sins upon himself. This was forgiveness to the max.

You might be asking how does my unwillingness to forgive “damage” me, as Dr. Fillmore contends. It is reasonably well documented that by hanging on to a grudge it can affect us physically and/or emotionally, it is like drinking poison.

True forgiveness is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. And it may take a long time. James 1 tells us that when we ask the Father for wisdom (in this case the ability to forgive) it will be given to us, providing we don’t doubt His ability and willingness to do so. True forgiveness means (1) we don’t dwell on the infraction, (2) we don’t talk about it to anyone else, (3) we never bring it up again to the person who offended us, and (4) we do not allow the incident to affect our relationship with the person.
Dr. Dana Fillmore

Here is where it can get a little dicey. We must be willing to ask ourselves is there any way we may have contributed to the hurt that was caused us? This is the Biblical version of seeing the spec in the other’s eye and not the plank in your own. In this instance I am thinking specifically of infidelity. Don’t get me wrong the one who committed the sin made a conscious choice for which he or she must take full blame. However if you are able you must be willing to ask yourself how did the marriage get into its current state? Then be willing to work through the painful issues to ensure they don’t happen again.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Talk Is Cheap

Actually talk is not cheap, regardless of how the old expression goes. Talk takes time. Time seems to be a precious commodity in our overly crowded schedules, therefore time is not cheap. It has been reported that the average couple talks less than 90 minutes a week about something other than running the house and caring for the kids.

As Mort Fertel suggests, “People’s priorities often become evident when you look at how they spend their time. How do you spend your evenings and weekends? Are you watching television and playing on the computer more than you are talking to your spouse? Do you talk on the phone and visit with friends and family more than you talk to your spouse?”

Challenge yourself to spend time each day talking and connecting with your partner. If you feel like you can’t make the time, it’s probably a sign of a serious problem. If you feel like you don’t want to make the time, that’s even more serious. Try spending 15 minutes more than you already do giving your partner your undivided attention. Turn off the television and your phone and engage in some quality time together.

My guess is that most of us think that we are much better than the average, that we talk far more than 90 minutes a week. I challenge you to do a little research project. First you have to agree to behave during the period in question exactly the way you are currently behaving. Second, don’t tell your spouse what you are doing. Next record the amount of time spent talking to your spouse about something other than the general running and upkeep of the house and/or your kids. If you can do this for one week great, if only for a day, so be it.

Can you honestly say that the period during which you conducted your research was most reflective of your normal behaviors during a similar time frame? If so, how did you make out? The goal isn’t to be better than the national norm in terms of the amount of time you talk, the goal is to enrich your marriage so that it glorifies God.