Sometimes life knocks the wind out of me! I have had a few of those weeks recently. But as Elizabeth Elliott says “just do the next thing.” So we get up and go to work and fix dinner and laugh and play and cry. Then after some time goes by I see there needs to be more intentionality on my part to be forgiving. I heard Joyce Meyer say one time that “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” Unforgiveness turns to bitterness in my heart if I don’t diligently dig it out. It becomes a cross to bear. It becomes a power trip I have to sustain. It becomes a noose around my neck squeezing the life out of my entire self. I see it affecting my life outside of my own body too. I see that my fruits are drying up. I see my relationships squelched. I hear my words become harsh.
So I go to the cross! I wait expectantly to hear from God and He never lets me down! So this is what I read…
Galatians 5 (paraphrased from The Message)
“When you attempt to live by your own plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. You wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit…what matters is faith expressed in love! You were doing well…you let (unforgiveness) deflect you from the true course of obedience. This doesn’t come from God. DO NOT think this is insignificant. It only takes a very small amount of yeast to permeate an entire loaf of bread. … It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do (or think or feel or act) whatever you want to do and destroy your own freedom. Use your freedom to serve one another in love…that is how freedom grows. … Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. There is a root of sinful self interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit. So choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law dominated existence.”
Now granted that’s a lot of paraphrasing… but all in all it is saying to me if I choose to not forgive I am being selfish and binding myself to a feeling and choosing to remain in a position of hurt and anger, and it WILL infect other areas of my life. I may be justified… my pain and hurt is very real… but I can not use my freedom as an excuse to hold onto that because Jesus says to let it go! MY freedom is killed by MY right to hold it. If I forgive then I am freeing myself from having to have any control over that pain or issue. Forgiveness allows me to minister the fruits of God’s amazing Spirit.
To think of living freely, animated and motivated by God spirit reminds me that I can tap into an incredible force. The same force that created me and the world and frogs and stars. Forgiveness is for me, for my freedom, for my relationship with God, for my interaction with others. I love the last line that choosing to be led by the Spirit is to escape the erratic compulsions of law domination. The law is full of retribution and consequences but faith expressing itself in love is totally opposed to that way of thinking. It is freeing to me because I don’t have to carry it. It allows me to be the best image of God that I can be while anything and everything goes on around me. It keeps me in perfect peace when my heart is steadfast.
So today…TODAY…I will forgive and leave those hurts with Jesus. Tomorrow I will do it again, until it is natural or until I meet Jesus face to face and it just doesn’t hurt anymore.