Two weeks ago, one of your homework assignments was to pick an area of your life that you wanted to change. Then you were to figure out one step to do to move in the direction of change. Well your two weeks is up, how did you do? What will your second step be? Tell it to your husband or friend so that you will have some accountability to get it done.
Today’s topic: Failure to Forgive. Why would forgiveness be tied to pride? I believe it all boils down to a matter of control. We want to be in control. We want to determine what others can and cannot do to me. Harboring unforgiveness can be our backwards way of being in control of a situation. An “I will not let them hurt me again” attitude can start the process of building walls between two individuals that will only lead to destruction and defeat.
I think we can learn a lot from how we parent our children. If we could apply those principles to our own lives, we would see God move mightily in our own lives. What do you do when your child hits another or takes a toy away? You make them say sorry and right the wrong. What happens to us that in adulthood we aren’t so quick to ask for forgiveness? Why aren’t we willing to forgive quickly and go on “playing” with our friends and family members? Somehow the kids are able to see past the wrong and believe the good in the other person. Somehow they are more willing to forgive and go on playing instead of risking the loss of a valuable friend through unforgiveness.
Why do adults handle forgiveness differently? One word: Pride. Somehow as we age we begin to believe that we deserve to be treated a certain way and when that does not occur, someone should pay for it. We also believe that we have now earned the title of “Judge” and have the right to deal out the “correct” punishment for injustice.
So how can we undo this line of thinking?
The first step is to realize the place you play in the judicial system of life. Romans 12 lays the job descriptions out beautifully. It clearly states that God is to take on the role of “Judge” and He will determine the correct punishment and timing of that punishment. (Romans 12:19). It also clearly states our role. We are to….
- Allow God to transform our way of thinking (v.2)
- Realize that we too are sinful and make mistakes (v.3)
- Don’t pretend to love others but really love them (v.9-10)
- Bless those who persecute you and pray for them (v.14)
- Live in harmony with others don’t be proud and think that you know it all (v.16)
- Never pay back evil with evil (v.17)
- Leave at peace with everyone (v.18)
Isn’t it a bummer that “It is okay to not follow the rest of these verses if the other person deserves it” is not listed? I know at times I want to justify my actions based off of what the other person did to me, but God does not allow it.
But don’t believe for even a minute that God has this rule to make your life miserable. In all reality forgiveness if more for you than for the other person. Forgiving others helps prevent Satan from planting seeds of discord and bitterness.
Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Being humble enough to forgive someone who has wronged you opens the door to allow God to continue to work in your life. You can stop Satan in his tactics to take you out by not allowing him to plant seeds of selfishness and bitterness into your heart. It helped me be willing to forgive others when I realized that forgiving someone isn’t saying what they did was right. Forgiving them just means you are accepting their shortcomings and choosing to love them despite what they have done.
Be humble enough to avoid doing anything that will hinder your prayers. In the Bible God taught us how to pray and one of the lines specifically tells us to forgive each other. I would think that is an important thing to do!
Matthew 6:9-15 (NLT)
Pray like this: 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. “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.”
Here are a couple more verses to meditate on this week.
Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
This week’s assignments:
- Are you quick to forgive or do you harbor unforgiveness?
- How do you model forgiveness to your children?
- If you are having a hard time letting go of forgiveness, please check out John Bevere’s book, “The Bait of Satan.” It is excellent and will change your life for the good!