In the last month, I’ve heard this…”But you don’t know what they’ve done to ME.” And this…”If you understood how they’ve treated ME, you wouldn’t expect ME to have a better response.” I’ve heard it from so many people, in many different walks of life. The truth for followers of Jesus is this…How you are treated has NOTHING to do with how you respond. We all respond wrong, sometimes…but do we justify that response or seek to be more like Christ?
The truth is, according to human standards, every one of us has been stepped on, walked over, or treated badly. We all have the “right” to put others in their place. But as believers of God’s Word, as those claiming to walk in His Spirit, are we honoring Him with those thoughts and attitudes? When life becomes all about me and not about Him, there is a spiritual problem.
I know what it means to be hurt, to have lies told about your family, to have misunderstandings turn into accepted “truth” simply because the hearers are unwilling to seek real truth. I am not naive about life. I have cried tears over lost relationships. I have fallen into depression because I wanted justice but none seem to be found.
What I’ve discovered is that true peace comes in living the life God has laid out for me in His Word. Emptying myself of my wants, my disappointments, and allowing His Spirit to fill me. Forgiveness isn’t an option for the true followers. It is a command. And the only way to live a life with forgiveness flowing freely from you, is to surrender your “rights,” your desires, your idea of the what life and relationships should look like.
People will always disappoint me. They are not perfect. But neither am I. There is only one Perfect and we are not Him. I’ve been learning to extend grace to those who hurt me. My wounds still bleed, but there is a healing salve that covers them when I allow Christ to control my thoughts and emotions. I am able to speak words of peace and love as I pray for God to bless those who seem to intent on causing me pain. I don’t know how those prayers work in the hearts of others, but my heart is changed and the peace is amazing. The anger melts away and joy and thanksgiving step into fill the area that once held so much contempt.
I challenge you, as brothers and sisters in Christ, let the anger go. Allow the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts about those you continually view critically. Ask God to change your heart, so that peace can reign. Quit trying to justify your anger and hurt. It effects every relationship, both vertical and horizontal.
It is a daily process in the beginning. Everyday asking God to fill me with His love for others. Just when I think, I’m “healed” of the hurt, those evil thoughts return. My enemy reminds me of the pain those people have brought into my life. And I have to choose whether to take those thoughts captive and remove them or to let them take root, once again.
Sometimes, my “need” for justice (what I perceive as justice, anyway) outweighs my longing for a healed relationship and peace. I am so set on the “truth” being known and the other party knowing and owning their offense, that often I let sin creep in and anger take hold. When all the time, God is calling out to me and offering a much better path, forgiveness.
Psalm 17 becomes my prayer when my heart longs for human justice or truth to shouted from the rooftops. When I want everyone to know how I’ve been mistreated or how I’ve been abused, this passage reminds me that my justification is in Christ. He is my refuge. He knows my heart and He longs for peace to reign and anger from offenses to be tossed out of my life.
“And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER, and FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Col. 3:12-13
Asking for peace to reign in your hearts today.