So you’ve been hurt, somebody did something or said something and it hurt your feelings…or you were “offended”. And now you’re angry…and feel quite justified in being angry. After all…look what this person did…or didn’t do. Right?
Wrong…not when you are a Christian. If you think that God will leave you alone…in your unforgiveness, anger or bitterness…you’ve got another think coming. God will not leave you alone. When you are his own…he will deal with you. Just like a parent disciplines their own child when they misbehave…God will put the pressure on and deal with you.
I’d really like to say I got the inspiration to write this…out of the “clear blue sky”. That God inspired me…but then…I’d be lying in addition my recent failure of being slow to forgive.
I’m a bit of a “bonehead”…a slow learner sometimes…and can be quite willful. Not a good combination when God desires obedience and repentance when I fail.
Recently…I had the opportunity to be offended. Now I know I should have forgiven the offence immediately…and moved on. But I didn’t. I didn’t reach out and try to communicate and clear up any misunderstanding. And when an apology was forthcoming…I did not respond kindly. In fact I was downright ugly and stated “I don’t care that you’re sorry.”
You can be certain that the Holy Spirit started dealing with me right away. I knew I was wrong, I knew I responded wrongly…I knew I was being unforgiving. Something that God has quite clearly made known as wrong.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. — Matthew 6:14
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. — Matthew 18:21-22
Following my disappointing failure…the pressure started. Here’s some of the dialogue that ensued:
“Susan…you know when I died on the cross…I forgave the very people who beat, mocked, flogged and put me to death. And you are being unforgiving over what?”
“Yeah…you’re right they may have done wrong…but even so…you forgiving someone is not based on them being worthy or deserving of forgiveness.”
“Now have you even considered whether they did this intentionally or not? Perhaps they didn’t really mean to hurt you.”
“Have you ever hurt someone unintentionally? Didn’t you want to be forgiven when you did that?”
“Do you think that perhaps you are little less than perfect…a sinner that I had to forgive? Did I withhold my forgiveness from you? Susan…I forgave you before you ever sinned…or before you were even born.”
“Susan…I died on the cross to pay the penalty for this man’s sins. I…Jesus Christ have forgiven him of his sins. And you are holding something against him for which I have forgiven him.”
Of course…God brought all sorts of things into my path to remind me and reinforce His message. One was a sermon on mercy. You know the scripture. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
And then there was Bible Study Fellowship…and seeing the life of Jacob and Esau. Seeing how Jacob schemed against his brother…and his brother was unforgiving. Going down this avenue was not one that produced good fruit in the life of Esau.
So even this slow learner got the message and apologized for not being quick to forgive.
Now I wish I could take it take it back…or have a mulligan. I failed a test…which of course means I’ll be repeating that test in the future. I pray that I will not fail and disappoint my Savior again. I brought reproach upon the name of Christ by acting in an unrighteous and un-Christ like manner.
Now if I had acted rightly…and forgiven the offense immediately…not only would I have spared myself the other person the consequences of my wrong action…but I would have also been developing a habit of being forgiving.
Good habits make right action easier to obey, quickly and consistently. Part of developing good habits is right thinking. Right thinking for a Christian is found in the Word of God. Nowhere can we find better examples than in the life of Christ. So if I’m consistently reading the Word of God…filling my mind with godly examples of right action…I will increase the likelihood that I will be obedient to God.
Another benefit to filling my mind with God’s Word…is that it gives the Holy Spirit some tools to aid me in my daily walk. By bringing to mind God’s Word and his wisdom in how I should respond or handle life’s events and people.
So if ever I’m tempted to get cocky and think I’m better than someone else…I just need to remind myself that if I was the only person ever created…would Jesus still have had to die on the cross to pay for my sins? And the answer is a resounding yes.
How can I a sinner…forgiven much by my Savior…remain in unforgiveness towards another for whom God has died?