Friday, September 30, 2011

Sticks and Stones --- A Bible Study on Forgiveness is Starting

My son loves rocks…and sticks. The more unique they are, the smoother they are, the more my son is intrigued by them. I cannot tell you how many rocks and sticks I have washed in the seven years of his life. Rocks of different colors and shapes. Sticks from different types of wood weathered or smooth. He rubs his hands over them. He uses them as little tools, and he shows them off to his sister who has no great interest in them. He accumulates them in his pockets throughout the day which means I accumulate them in my laundry room. A rock here. A stick there. You’d think I’d have enough rocks and sticks to build a wall or something, but the rocks and sticks really aren’t good for anything but his sheer amusement.

I know a person who has accumulated and collected his prizes. He goes over them and over them, bearing his focus on them to the exclusion of other things. His prizes or badges he carries with him day in and day out accumulating them as he goes. And just like my son he tries to show them off. He talks about them. He gets loud when no one will listen to him any longer. In many ways the man and my son are similar. They both are holding onto what they collect. The more they collect, the heavier it gets. For Pearce, his britches can start sagging with the weight of rocks and sticks, but for the man, the badges he accumulates are hung around his heart. The only difference between my seven-year-old son and this grown man (other than their physical age) is that Pearce collects rocks and sticks, and the grown man collects grievances or things that have been done wrong to him over the course of his life. The man’s heart is hard, and he’s bitter and angry. The people who have done him wrong are long gone, but he yet he still holds on.

In Nancy Leigh Demoss’s book Choosing Forgivness she writes, “When we choose to hold on to our grudges, we relinquish control of our future” (10). Are you a collector of wrong-doings? Are you carrying around hurt that has not been dealt with? Forgiveness requires total surrender and relinquishment (22). Are you tires of being heavy-burdened? Are you tired of being angry? Are you tired of giving power and control of your life to someone who doesn’t even know they have it? Then this study is for you.

You know when you are carrying that kind of weight around it can’t help but affect you. It affects your posture. (Pearce is always looking down to find rocks and sticks. My friend expects for people to try to take the best from him, so he’s always on the defensive.) The more one accumulates the heavier it becomes. “The wounds that have been inflicted upon you will not be made one ounce lighter by being stored up and left to fester. In fact, they will only become heavier and more burdensomen.” (25)

Joy is replaced with sadness and defeat. Pleasure is replaced with resentment and bitterness. Love and kindness are fended off by the walls that are built around your heart. “We cannot expect to live at peace with God or to experience His blessing in our lives if we refuse to forgive our debtors. To do so is to choke out His grace and to allow Satan to ‘get an advantage of us’ “(2 Cor 2:11)(25).

“Forgiveness at its best requires that you face how badly you’ve been hurt” (29). This study is going to make you face your hurt. You are going to learn how to deal with you hurt, and you are going to be given the opportunity to learn how to forgive. After you learn, it is up to you to CHOOSE FORGIVENESS.