True for­give­ness is a choice

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - Dayna Spence Ask the Chap­lain is writ­ten by Rev. Dayna Spence, an or­dained min­is­ter, li­censed evan­ge­list, and chap­lain who’s served as a hos­pi­tal chap­lain and is cur­rently serv­ing as a hospice chap­lain Ch­ester County area. Please email “Ask the Chap­lain”

DEAR CHAP­LAIN >> My friend of over nine years took a neck­lace from my house without ask­ing me. When I found out she claimed she was just bor­row­ing it. That re­ally hurt me to my heart and I stopped speak­ing to her. Now she wants to be my friend again. I re­ally like hang­ing out with her, but how can I be her friend when I can’t trust her?

SIGNED, CAN’T FOR­GIVE OR FOR­GET DEAR CAN’T FOR­GIVE OR FOR­GET >>

When we give peo­ple some­thing so pre­cious as our trust and it’s bro­ken, it hurts, deeply. As Chris­tians, we have two choices when peo­ple in­jure us in our hearts: we can ei­ther for­give and stay in the re­la­tion­ship or we can for­give and keep them at a dis­tance, not as pun­ish­ment or to be hurt­ful, but rather to pro­tect our­selves. But we must truly for­give be­cause Je­sus for­gave us when He died on the cross for our sins, and He con­tin­ues to for­give us when we break God’s trust, on a daily ba­sis. (“And when you stand pray­ing, for­give, if ye have ought against any: that your Fa­ther also which is in heaven may for­give you your tres­passes. But if you do not for­give, nei­ther will your Fa­ther which is in heaven for­give your tres­passes.” Mark 11:2526) True for­give­ness is a choice. It’s mak­ing a con­scious de­ci­sion to let go of a wrong that was done to us, and mak­ing that de­ci­sion ev­ery time the wrong comes to mind or the sub­ject comes up in con­ver­sa­tion. We must con­stantly re­mind our­selves that we have for­given that per­son and let it go, un­til it stops com­ing up and af­fect­ing us. Some­times, we can for­give im­me­di­ately, and other times we need a lit­tle time to re­cover to for­give. But for­give we must, and we must also choose to for­get. Take note of Isa­iah 43:25, which says, “I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again (NLT). God says I will com­pletely re­move your sin and I will never think about it again.” As we see in the scrip­ture, for­give­ness is a two-step process, for­giv­ing and for­get­ting. To re­ceive God’s mercy, we must be mer­ci­ful the way God shows mercy. So for­giv­ing and for­get­ting is not only pos­si­ble, but as a Chris­tian it is a re­quired dis­ci­pline that must be learned. How­ever, our friend­ships, who we give our trust to, and who we al­low in our per­sonal space is not, they are choices we must make wisely. Cer­tainly, you can for­give and for­get what hap­pened, but only you know if restor­ing the re­la­tion­ship with your friend is a wise de­ci­sion.

DEAR CHAP­LAIN >>

I’ve been say­ing nightly prayers with my son, “Now I lay me down to sleep ... ” And the part “if I should die be­fore I wake ...” up­sets him, to the point he al­most cried. I tried tak­ing out that part but it isn’t help­ing. He’s only 3, how do I fix this, as I re­ally want him to get into the habit of say­ing prayers and lik­ing them?

SIGNED, SCARY PRAYERS DEAR SCARY PRAYERS >>

Thank you for your ques­tion. Prayers shouldn’t be scary but ed­i­fy­ing, even for a child. Try teach­ing him the Lord’s Prayer, taken from Matthew 6:913. It’s bib­li­cal, it’s Je­sus’ words and it’s a pow­er­ful prayer he’ll have in his heart for life. (“Our Fa­ther who art [lives] in Heaven, Hal­lowed [holy] be thy name; Thy king­dom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and for­give us our tres­passes as we for­give those who tres­pass against us. And lead us not into temp­ta­tion, but de­liver us from evil. For thine is the king­dom, the power, and the glory, for­ever and ever. In the name of Je­sus, Amen.”)

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