Good day greetings, precious family!!! As I wrote yesterday about one of the areas of life where bad attitudes can develop, I am writing again today about a second issue that can contribute to poor attitudes in life. It is the topic of forgiveness.
Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). A person’s uncontrolled anger does not produce the righteous life God desires for us. Instead, He says to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
It is God’s desire that we not repay evil for evil, to be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, “as far as it depends on us, He says, live at peace with everyone.” Leave it to God to avenge or repay. (Romans 12:17-19) He tells us “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21-22). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) Satan loves to see us in a state of being overcome by evil. Let us not go there, dear ones!!! YIKES!!! LET US WATCH OUT!!!
Often people tend to think that those who let us down are unworthy of love and that they should be punished. When others hurt us and anger us, it is important to get a grip on our emotions. We can talk with a friend or counselor and use wisdom to communicate appropriately. Many people have never learned how to deal with anger in the right way. Whether believers in Christ or unbelievers, God desires us to deal lovingly with other people. Matthew 22:39 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So often, we make ourselves out to be God’s agents of condemnation instead of His agents of love. Our condemnation of those who fail may come out as verbal abuse, physical abuse, nagging, criticism, withholding appreciation and affection, or ignoring them. Each situation and each person often requires a different form of communication. There are times when we need to overlook an insult or offense and there are times when it is appropriate that we lovingly confront someone. It is helpful to ask “What is the divine best for the other person.” A visiting Pastor at my church once said that when dealing with others there are three things that we should keep in mind and we should always keep them in order: “think, act and feel”. When we think first, then act, then we will feel good about the outcome, but if we feel first, then act, then we will think “I wish I hadn’t done that.” Or, we might act first, feel bad about it and lastly think why did I do that!
Colossians 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 2:13-14 tells us how God dealt with our sins: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us, He took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Matthew 6:14-15 says that “If you forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Unforgiveness affects us! It robs us of peace and joy, it can affect our health, and it breaks our relationship with God and others. Forgiveness is so important to God that He says it should be extended towards others before we offer any gifts to God at the alter (Matthew 5:23). Forgiveness is the greater gift to God!
For illustration purposes, I share this story in hopes it may bear fruit to help from my experience. Several years ago, before I knew Jesus, I was working with a woman who complained a lot about other people. It was so much that it really bothered me. One day I went to have a cup of coffee with another employee and out of frustration, I mentioned that it really bothered me that this gal was so negative about other people. I didn’t realize that this employee whom I thought I was confiding in as a friend would walk right back to the office and tell the gal I had complained about what I had said about her. Obviously, she was very mad at me and I can see why – here was I doing the same thing I was accusing her of doing!!! YIKES!!! I apologized several times and ask her to forgive me, but she stayed very mad at me and would not even speak to me for days. Every morning before I went to work, I would fret and worry so much about it that I gave myself a stress headache before I left the house. Finally one day I told myself “You have apologized. You have done your part. It is now up to her to forgive. If she cannot do that, it is not your problem to worry about.” I went to work as normal and began to speak and act towards her as if nothing had happened. I didn’t know about God’s grace at the time, but this is what it looks like when we accept God’s grace or love upon us as sufficient! She eventually forgave me and we had a workable relationship after that. I am very thankful for that. This does not always happen and when someone cannot forgive us when we have sincerely apologized, we need to love them and pray for them, releasing them to God and asking Him to put love and forgiveness in their heart for us. None of us are perfect and not always, but often times, it can be that the very thing we hold against others, we are guilty of ourselves. Romans 2:1 says “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” I have found this so true in my own life. When I am being critical or unforgiving of someone else, I can see how quite often the very thing I am accusing them of, I have done at some point in my life. Then I think, well I would want God to forgive me for this, so it is only fair that I forgive this person that has offended me. What someone does towards us really can’t compare to all we have personally done towards God and God sets the perfect example to us – He has completely forgiven us thru our faith in His perfect performance on the cross for our sins!
When forgiveness is an issue, we can pray and ask God to help us to forgive and pray for the other person involved as well.
A very good friend of mine clearly understood this concept when she was having a difficult time forgiving her stepfather for sexually abusing her and her sister when they were young. She had told her mother about the abuse, but because her mother feared she would be unable to support her girls without her husband, she told the girls they would have to put up with it. Her mother and this man divorced at a later time. My friend knew God would want her to forgive, but for many years, she could not forgive. One day, when she was getting ready for the day and talking to herself in her mind as we all do, she began to think about a personal sin she had (other than not forgiving) that she could not stop doing. It was a stronghold that she had not yet been able to overcome. Each day she would pray that she would not commit that sin and at the end of the day, she would realize that she had indeed sinned again. As she thought about this, the thought came to her “What if my stepfather did the same thing?”, “What if each day he started off saying “God, please don’t let me abuse those girls again today!?” Suddenly, she viewed this man in a new way. She could identify with this man’s daily struggle with sin against God and through this insight, she gained compassion for him and was able to forgive him. She spent a lot of her time each week visiting her mother at an assistant living center until her mother passed away and I am glad to say, my friend has overcome not being able to forgive and conquer thru His power at work in her the stronghold of the other personal sin that she was struggling with for so long as well.
I ask myself as I ask you: Are you withholding forgiveness and love towards someone presently or in the past? What do they need to do in order to be forgiven by you?____________________________________________________________________
Do they still owe you something? _________ They may never give it to you and if you stated there is something that they need to do, you have not “canceled their debt” as God has canceled ours. Forgiveness holds no grudges or expectations towards another person. Holding on to unforgiveness hurts us!
What area of resentment, anger or bitterness in your heart needs to be resolved? ____________________________________________________________________
If you are unsure of how to resolve a problem, will you seek God’s wisdom through prayer, His Word and godly counsel from other Christians?
Whose best interest are you neglecting to seek by being passive in lovingly confronting a problem that needs to be resolved? _____________________________________________________________________
Will we ask God to help us to handle the problem successfully and in a manner that brings Him glory?
Are we the source of someone else’s anger, bitterness and resentment and we are procrastinating making a sincere apology? If we are still sinning towards them, let us ask God to help us to stop. Let us ask God to give us the desire, the courage and the opportunity to pursue peace.
Here is a powerful song and story of forgiveness. 🙂 May your heart know forgiveness and peace, dear ones!!!