The most difficult part of forgiveness for me is probably the pettiest part of unforgiveness. When it comes down to it, I just don’t want to give up my right to be irritated, annoyed or even angry at someone. I feel justified in harboring ill feelings toward someone who has hurt me. You see selfishness is a nasty thing and when other people are inconsiderate of me I feel as though their selfishness is not as important as my own. Funny thing Justification is; you have to choose a side, who is right, who is wrong, and it usually comes down to how do I protect me from this not happening. When I put it into words it makes me look very prideful for not choosing to forgive and let go of things.
Some of us are in self preservation mode when we choose to let bitterness grow in our hearts, some of us pick up the offenses of others because we see the evil deeds of man wrecking havoc on the ones we love, some of us are childish. And some of us are a mixture of all of the above. But most of us don’t see the hidden evil of unforgiveness, sneaking up on us, harming ourselves and others more than the original offense itself. It can be as simple as a person cutting us off in traffic or a person being ungrateful when you serve them. Then that little attitude of self righteousness creeps in telling you what you really deserve. Do not mistake this voice for a friend for it is the same voice that will crucify you with regret and shame the moment you make a mistake.
How then do we preserve our peace, joy and love in a world so ravaged by the sickness of selfishness? How then do we become selfless and abandoned to the voice of God who is constantly at work showing the way to freedom? It starts with a turning away. We are called by God to bless those who curse us. We cannot do both that and stand resolute in our unforgiveness. In Justification we end up shouting out like the religious leaders who wanted Jesus crucified, they believed that they stood for justice.
Part of the case we make for justice is our desire to self preserve. We think if we lay down our defenses in humility that we become a doormat for others to walk all over. The difference is to whom we are submitting. When knelt in submission to God, it is in obedience to our King and not to this world. God isn’t giving us these commands of humility for humiliations sake, but for the sake of our very soul. What good is it to yell out obscenities in the car at a careless driver other than to spread discord in your heart and into the hearts of those in the car with you. What good is it to guard your heart with thistle and thorn against the powers of the air? Air passes through unharmed while you take all the pain from your thorny prison.
What action then do we take to keep our heart guarded yet soft, protected yet sensitive to the beauty of love ,fortified yet free? We have to tell our justified mind to be silent and make grace our first choice, to make peace our goal and love our priority. We have to choose this day how we will respond and react to the world. Will it be self preservation or will we chose a different defense? God does not merely say that he is loving but rather that He is LOVE. He himself is love, the creator of emotion, and of spirit and of earth, this one true God, is love. Therefore when He says to choose love, kindness and forgiveness in the face of all adversity whether it is a minor offense or a major crime, we are fortifying our lives with love and filling ourselves with the only thing that can and could ever truly protect us.
If you have a cold you cannot kill it with poison, the cost is too high; the cost is a life. You must attack it with medicine, with the only true thing that can destroy it. Yet we fight the wrong way and try to protect against its pain with weapons forged not out of love but out of selfish defense. We protect ourselves completely, only by allowing God to have the job of protector and relinquishing those rights to him. We can then assume the job meant for us, given to us by God, a job that is a commission; to go out into the world, to be love, to be light and to be completely immersed in his presence.
We cannot welcome the presence of God while harboring the poison of unforgivenss. It will kill us, it will tell us that it can fight the pain inside but what it does not disclose is that it will kill the keeper too.
What does this health and medicine of grace look like? It is asking God for awareness, it is acting in love out of that awareness and it is continuing to choose others needs above our own.
Offense is a forked tongue whispering our rights while dismissing the rights of others. The enemy knows that if we operate sole out of an offended mind built by our perception and misconceptions that we could destroy the world around us. like a single breath blowing down a house of cards, allowing offenses to linger in our hearts can be our destruction. He merely has to get us to believe that we have the right to be offended and we will destroy ourselves and the ones we love, single handedly. When God says we must humble ourselves take up the cross and follow him, he is not saying that we have accepted defeat but he is saying follow me and we will crucify this beast of selfishness.
We have to stop making it so easy for the Devil to hurt us. It is time to fight with the right arsenal. Are you feeling beat up and completely and entirely attacked at every turn, and your mind is a mess of worry, doubt, fear, anger, and complete depression? It’s time to take up a true stance of defense. It’s time to equip ourselves for a real fight and make our true enemy bleed. The enemy has merely laid out vials of poison for us to sample: Fear, Bitterness, Greed, Selfishness, Jealousy, Anger, Malice, Unforgiveness, and Shame to name a few. Then we wonder why we are too unhealthy to stand up and fight, why we are too tired and depressed, overwhelmed and burdened.
So what can we do?
Simple: Quit taking the poison! If you have been then you need to take a dose of forgiveness to flush it out, and then let your very being be filled with the life giving health of Christ's righteousness that will produce the Fruit of the Spirit.
The Fruit of the Spirit is; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. If you are not operating in these then consider what poison you may be consuming that is killing your fruit.
Arm yourself with Thanksgiving and Praise to God. Fill your heart with gladness as you rejoice in his goodness. Offer a submissive and contrite heart. Seek his heart and ask him to forgive the sins of pride and unforgiveness towards his children. Surrender your will. Not to be defeated but to be armed and ready for this battle we face every day. Fill yourself with the Word of truth and you will be filled with the very presence of God. The bible says in John 1:1-2,14
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The word is Christ! He is alive and becomes alive in us as we spend time in him, in his word. And His word says we are to fight evil with good, God’s instructions in Romans 12:9-21 explain it all
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So as I consider my desire to hold back forgiveness and to keep my rights to be irritated with others, I must consider the cost for ingesting this poison. It doesn’t take much poison to kill the fruit of peace in my life. And the cost is much too high. We need to start praising the good that we see in others instead of filling record books with their flaws.
Pray with me.
Dear forgiving Savior,
I ask you right now in all your authority and power to kill the poison of unforgiveness in my heart. I may have a right to hold such thoughts and to keep discord in my heart but if ever anyone had rights to withhold good, it was you. I take your example of perfect forgiveness to a world that rejected you and shouted out with cries for justice when in reality they were deceived by the poison of their selfishness. I will in this very moment chose forgiveness, a forgiveness that I could never have known if it were not for your sacrificial love for me. Thank you Lord that I am no longer bound by an unswerving system of justice but am forgiven and now forgive others as you have asked of me. I have held onto these things for far too long and as I release all of this to you, I seek your protection and your healing. I need your health in my spirit once again and I ask for new fruit to be produced in greater quality and quantities than I have ever known. Help me to hold true to a spirit of forgiveness, mercy and grace. With thankfulness in my heart I ask all of these things in your precious and most beautiful name. Amen