Yesterday we talked about unforgiveness. And believe me when I say that I understand in a real way how difficult it can be to forgive someone, to let it go. But I have found in my own life that when I am unwilling to forgive, I am bound in chains.
Freedom comes from releasing the hurt to God, extending grace (even when it is undeserved) and giving up the “right” to punish someone for how they have hurt you.
Priscilla said this and it just hit home for me: “Genuine freedom and renewed fervency are waiting for you on the other side of forgiveness. And the forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer. When galvanized with the living truth of God’s Word, fervent prayer is the bucket that can dip down into the reserves of God’s strength and pull up all the resolve you need for releasing other people from what they owe you.” Fervent p 161
With fervent prayer we can access God’s strength. With fervent prayer we can fight against the enemy who wants to see us angry, bitter and resentful. Knowing how poisonous resentment can be to us we have to find a way to remove it from our lives. Only God can change our hearts and our minds. Let Him take what is hurting and broken and restore it!
It can still be a struggle though, I get it! In those times I often have to look to God’s Word for the reminder about how grace was extended to me first. God set an example through the death and sacrifice of Jesus. A sinless God who took on my sins so that I could be free.
Ephesians 2:1-10 is a favorite passage of mine. Evidence of those “But God” moments and a reminder to treat others as He has treated me. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
It is easy for me to sit and think of all the ways I have been slighted or hurt by others. It is much harder (because it requires humility) for me to be honest about the multitude of ways I have done the damage myself. I am not innocent either and if I want grace extended to me when I hurt someone…shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?
And here is something that jumped out at me when I was reading those verses in Ephesians that hasn’t impacted me before. God didn’t just send His Son to pay the penalty for my sins. That alone, that forgiveness, would have been enough.
But God, who is full of mercy and grace, chose to make us alive through Christ AND He says we will be raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places so that He can show us his immeasurable riches. WOW!
God is overflowing with grace and love for us. How can we not do the same to those we come in contact with? When we spend time in prayer seeking to know God, asking for help in our weakness and praying for His grace to flow through us I think that the way we respond to hurt may be radically transformed.
Yes, we live in a sinful, fallen world and at times it is down right rotten to us. But when we access God’s power, through fervent prayer, we can bring light into the darkness.
Lord, Your love overwhelms us. You pour out grace and mercy over us and yet at times we struggle with offering grace to those that have hurt us. Help us Lord to see others as You see them. May we remember the sacrifice that was made on our behalf and may we look to You for help in those times that showing mercy is difficult. Thank you for providing the ultimate example of what extending grace looks like. In Jesus Name, Amen.