I tried to post this in the comments section of the post "Steps to letting go" but Blogger was having no part of it. First it was too long..so I split it in half...and it was still too long. And then I would have lost it if I hadn't caught on to their sneaky little tricks a long ago (after losing numerous comments when trying to "preview" them) Now, I always copy what I've written before I trust them enough to click "Preview" So anyway...what I've written below actually started out as a comment...a very long one, I'll admit.
I think I get what you are trying to convey. These lists are hokey and meaningless without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. I don't altogether disagree but as one who believes we can drag our feet a bit even when the spirit is urging (compelling) us to forgive, I think a bulleted list can be helpful.
Recently, I leafed through a copy of Flawed by Design by Jeff Priddy that Keith was rereading. I know, he goes by Martin Zender these days...but I read his stuff years ago when he signed his real name Jeff Priddy...and it seems to have stuck. Anyway...in it I read,
A disturbed reader objects vociferously. It is Monty: Then why does God exhort us to do the right thing?
Answer: You need to know what the right thing is Monty. There must be a standard. How will you know you've fallen short if there is no standard? How will you know how righteous God really is? How will you know when you've arrived at perfection? You are assuming, I think, that God gives exhortations as a means of testing you, to see what you will do. You may be thinking that God puts forth these exhortations as a challenge, so that you can impress him with your accomplishments.
Not so Monty. This isn't about you; it's about God. Think of scriptural exhortation as a matting inside which God intends to paint a masterpiece. These exhortations are God giving Himself an opportunity to show the world what He can do through you.
Not a bad quote...and parts of it I agree with. The part that pertains to this post is where he says...that exhortations are in scripture to clarify what the right thing is...to set the standard...even though, according to Priddy, Monty does not have a snowball's chance in hell of actually doing any of the things on his own.
That's how I see some of these lists. Some people want to forgive but the thought "forgive your enemies" can seem a bit vague. Sort of like telling a 2 year old to get ready for church. They need it spelled out a bit more....wash your face...get out of your PJ's...put on your shirt...etc. etc. And actually bulleted lists have helped me sometimes. You know...with titles like "10 things you can do today to improve your relationship with your kids." Either by thinking...that's bullshit...or...sometimes...hey....that's a good idea.
But....while surfing extensively for the past few days...I came upon a short excerpt by Corrie Ten Boom. I am pretty sure you have probably read it. I've read it before...several times...but...in light of this series...and your comments, I copied it to post here. I think you will like it....
It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.