I forgive by resigning the God job. Then the divine collection agency handles all the debts of those who have offended me.
“I want to do it myself!”
It is a tremendous delight to watch children “play house.” A toddler may make the announcement that she will fix dinner for the family and then proceed to her play kitchen. Pulling a pot from the cabinet, she lists the ingredients that will be included: ketchup, macaroni, carrots, cereal, cheese, but no peas! In the mixing bowl, she plans to add salad, mustard, salt, and hamburgers, of course. But wait! She still has to fix the chicken nuggets! Since the dipping sauce is missing, she broadcasts that she is going to town as she heads out the door with her purse and Mom’s car keys.
Mom has been chuckling while watching the preparations, but when the toddler actually opens the door to the family car and inserts the keys into the ignition, terror grips her heart. Making a mad dash to rescue her child from “play,” Mom reminds the toddler that she is not big enough to drive the car. Of course, a temper tantrum ensues because the toddler has big dinner plans that cannot happen if she does not drive to the store to get dipping sauce for the nuggets! Although Mom may offer alternatives, the toddler will insist, “I want to do it myself!” But the wise mother knows her child is not capable of handling everything she desires.
I’m not cut out for the God job.
As children “play house,” in our feeble attempts we “play God.” We imagine a multitude of strategies to promote our self-interest in order to feel good about ourselves and avoid pain. Usually, we are controlling every situation perceivable. During our playtime, we say many things such as, “Show me how to control my situation better”; “Give me more ideas on how to please myself”; “Teach me to be a better god.” We stomp our feet and assert, “I want to do it myself without any help!” Our self-sufficient attitude exudes extreme confidence in our own ability and worth. But an all-wise God knows we are not capable of handling everything we desire.
I want to resign from the God job.
Did you ever wish the world would stop so you could take some time off? Perhaps you are fully convinced that life could not go on without you in control. How many times do we believe it is our sole responsibility to keep everything running decently and in order? In our arrogance, we have bought into the lie that we must do anything that is to be done. Others are either irresponsible or incapable, and it is our responsibility to maintain balance. Not only do we need to maintain balance, but we must also keep the peace and make sure our family looks normal and happy.
We perceive that our job description includes the responsibilities of savior, sustainer, and benefactor—but this is God’s job description, and we are not capable of handling His job. When others do not fall in line and follow our leadership so we can be their savior, sustainer, and benefactor, we become angry and bitter. With a long list of debts, we attempt to collect what we believe is owed to us because we have done such an excellent job ordering our world.
“You owe me.”
Just like it is not my job to keep everything running decently and in order, it is not my job to make sure someone “pays” for the wrongs they have done to me.
Idolatry is not just an Old Testament sin. Idolatry is evident in modern times, even in America, when we assert control and expect others to acknowledge our authority. Usurping God’s authority results in the violation of the first commandment, which states, “You must not have any other god but me” (Deut. 5:7 NLT). We insist on being idolized when we put ourselves in the place of authority as we attempt to control others and ourselves. Even when we demand that someone “owes” us, we are placing ourselves in the position of gods who maintain that justice is our responsibility.
True forgiveness evidences a relationship with God.
True forgiveness evidences a relationship that is desperately dependent on God as we let go of our desires to control and give up our rights to seek satisfaction by our own means. As we forgive, we demonstrate that Christ is trustworthy and that we can rely on Him to resolve our crisis as we relinquish to Him those who have wronged us. When others do not measure up to our expectations, we must realize that it is not our expectations they must live up to, but God’s. As a result, we venture to release our expectations to God’s guidance. We allow Him to be responsible for our lives and be evident as our Savior, sustainer, and benefactor.
Only God can forgive sins.
It is vitally important to realize that only God can forgive sins. The forgiveness we are commanded to give is for our benefit, that we may depend upon Him and walk rightly with Him.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.Ephesians 4:32 KJV
We are releasing the offending party from our condemnation, and we are removing ourselves from the burden of seeking satisfaction. In actuality, the forgiveness we are to offer should assert, “You don’t owe me anything.” Our job is to take ourselves out of the role of playing God and allow God to be responsible to see that justice is administered. The all-powerful God will lift the weight of our anger and bitterness when we forgive in a manner that passes the responsibility for retribution to the only One who is capable of righteously administering justice.
Often when Jesus taught about forgiveness, He used a financial illustration to convey the concept. Therefore, it can be helpful to consider the financial practices of a billing office. A client receives services. The office issues a bill for the services. Then the client pays the bill. And on and on the cycle goes. Until it doesn’t. The client may continue to come for services but cease to pay their bill in a timely fashion.
Forgiveness allows another to be responsible for debts.
Complications arise when bad debts remain on the books, so accountants insist that accounts must be settled appropriately. If a debt remains unpaid, the account will be turned over to a collection agency.
After an account is turned over for collection, billing statements cease, phone calls stop, and all activity to collect the outstanding debt is discontinued on the part of the office. However, the collection agency initiates its own set of procedures and penalties and assumes responsibility to see that the balance is paid. Interest, fees, and court costs increase the indebtedness as the collection agency continues to accrue the balance.
Webster’s dictionary defines forgive as “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for; to grant relief from payment of; to cease to feel resentment against (an offender).” Other definitions include, “refuse to hold an offense against, release from the penalty owed, to cancel the debt.”
Even as I have asked God to forgive me, I must allow God to handle the wrongs in my world.
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”Matthew 18:21–22 NLT
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
The divine collection agency collects debts.
There are occasions when there is no way a debt can be satisfied because the offense is so great. This was the case with Kirk in regards to his father. As with businesses, complications arise when bad debts remain in our lives, so accounts must be settled appropriately. In those times, it is essential to turn the account over to our divine collection agency. We must determine that we will no longer exert any energy in the collection of the debt but allow God to be responsible for the account. With open hands, we can release the strongholds that have bound us to our anger and bitterness. The only One who is truly capable of collecting the debt will see to it that justice is served.
Often we are reluctant to allow God to handle our accounts because we are not convinced we will be satisfied with the outcome. How will God settle the account? There are two methods God will use to reconcile outstanding debts. Either the offender will pay in hell for all eternity, or Christ’s death will cover the penalty.
He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.Colossians 2:14 NLT
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.1 John 1:9 NLT
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
“That’s too easy,” you may whine. Really? You believe Christ’s payment for your sin was too easy? Remember Ephesians 4:32: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (emphasis added).
In the same way, you have been forgiven of your outstanding debts that cannot be satisfied except through Christ’s death. He also stands ready to forgive all who come to Him for forgiveness. We are much more eager to accept this forgiveness for ourselves than to allow the same justice to be meted out on those who have offended us.
God’s terms of forgiveness.
Millions of people have repeated the Lord’s Prayer, which states, “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12 NLT). Since we only mechanically quote the passage, we neglect to recognize the conditions and terms of forgiveness. Do we really want God to forgive us in the same way we forgive others? In the verses immediately following the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus elaborates further.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Matthew 6:14–15 NLT
Forgiveness is the evidence of a redeemed soul.
Ultimately all sin is an offense against God. And without forgiveness, there is no redemption.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;Psalm 51:4 NLT
I have done what is evil in your sight.
The debt that is owed as the result of an injustice is ultimately owed to Him. As we lead desperately dependent lives, we will allow all debts to be His responsibility. Only God is capable of resolving our crisis.
My soul waits in silence for God only;Psalm 62:1–2 NASB
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Forgive. Then what?
So what are you to do after an account has been turned over for collection? It would be wise to make notations !!!!!! and to be alert for future infractions. Although your personal ledger sheet may indicate a zero balance, when an account is turned over for collection, it has not been settled. You may not forget that the injustice occurred, but you must remember that it is not your duty to see that it is paid. Retribution is not your responsibility. You can be free from the burdens of anger and bitterness while still exercising caution to avoid future violations.
O my people, trust in him at all times.Psalm 62:8 NLT
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge.
Operate on a “cash basis only” policy as you consider whether trust can be regained. Even though an individual may claim God has forgiven him or her, you must be desperately dependent on His direction for verification of the truth.
You are no longer responsible for the debt.
Guaranteed, Satan will be tempting you frequently to reclaim the outstanding balance. He will suggest many methods that you could employ to reassume control and attempt to make sure that the offending party pays for what he or she has done to you. In those moments, you remind Satan and yourself that you are no longer responsible for collecting this debt. You have turned the responsibility over to God, who will handle the account as He sees fit.
Sometimes wounded souls fall for the lie that they must pay for an offense that was done against them. For example, an adolescent may believe she must always carry the shame that was forced on her when she was molested. Or a divorced spouse may never again be happy as a result of the unfaithfulness of his partner. Or a sibling must continuously make allowances and excuses to cover up the deviance of her brother. Do not forget that Satan is the master deceiver. He is eager to use any device to keep us from experiencing our freedom in Christ.
By myself, I cannot withstand the onslaught of Satan, who unrelentingly attempts to persuade me that I can be solely responsible for all areas of my life. Too many times I have fallen for the lie that I am capable of fulfilling God’s job description of Savior, sustainer, and benefactor. But I am not designed to fulfill His job description any more than a two-year-old who is playing house can assume the responsibilities of a wife and mother. Satan makes it look so easy to perform God’s responsibilities while at the same time convincing us that it is so hard to let God be in control!
It’s time to resign from the God job and to forgive.
We must resign from our job of playing God and allow Him to assume His rightful position. He is the only one who can forgive sin. I must resign from my self-appointed duty of attempting to collect all the debt I believe is owed to me. Because He forgave all my sin, I must continue relying on Him to exercise His righteous justice on my behalf. Not only must I trust Him to forgive my sin, but I must also rely on Him to redeem me from the sins of others who have hurt me.
Without the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, we are totally incapable of living the abundant life He designed for us to experience as a result of our desperately dependent relationship with Him. As we rely on Him to complete His work in our lives, we can experience all He has to offer those who allow Him to reign supreme.
So now, come back to your God.Hosea 12:6 NLT
Act with love and justice,
and always depend on him.
Go ahead. Forgive.
Consider one account that remains open with an outstanding balance in your life. Complete a ledger sheet that indicates the charges and the balance due. What attempts have you made to satisfy the outstanding balance? Determine what you will do with this unsettled account. Will you continue to seek satisfaction through your own means? Or will you allow the divine collection agency, God, to be responsible for collecting your debts?
Prayer Pattern for forgiveness.
Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. . . .based on Matthew 6:9–13 NLT
Psalm 142 Prayer Pattern can also help you when you are feeling overwhelmed in the process of forgiving.
Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.
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