I’m sure every one of us has been hurt by someone or offended by someone’s words or actions. And I am positive that many of us have remembered and kept some sort of record of wrong, especially if it’s the same person/people hurting us. This is why it’s so hard to let go when the offense is repeated over and over again, because you have a record of it in your mind. It’s so easy to take on the victim mentality and hold onto the bitterness that develops after being hurt by people. We end up clinging so tightly to the offences, that we automatically build barriers and walls around us and we end up having a hard time living a life of freedom, because we are so bound by these “prison walls”.
A wise woman once told me that having bitterness in our heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, when in reality you are the only one who gets affected! There is so much truth in that statement!
As we are approaching Good Friday and the Resurrection weekend, this is the perfect opportunity for you to reflect on all that Christ has done for you. In Hebrews 9:22 it says “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin”. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb was required to satisfy God’s wrath.
Jesus, who was the perfect and sinless son of God, suffered and died on the cross and became the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He paid the price and bought our forgiveness when He died on the cross. As it says in 1 Peter 2:22, Jesus committed no sin and neither was deceit found in His mouth. Still, He gladly took our place….even though we are so sinful! He suffered, he experienced excruciating pain, and was slain to death just so that you and I can be saved from our crime/sin!
Can you just picture that for a moment! Would you go to prison for a crime you did not commit? Specifically for people that deserve the punishment? Would you take your offender’s place and look past how they have hurt you, so that they wouldn’t have to suffer? That’s basically what Jesus did for us! Jesus died for the sake of us – as sinful as we are – and He Himself was without sin and was perfect in every way. How much more should we be willing to forgive those who sin just like we do?
We get so worked up when we are repeatedly hurt by the same people. We make a big deal out of it and it is enough to cause us a lot of confusion and misery. I think Christine Caine said it best: “We need to stop making what people did to us bigger than what Jesus did for us!” What people did to you is nothing in comparison to Jesus dying on the cross for you.
So for the rest of this week, try to examine your life. God wants to completely remove the bitterness and unforgiveness you have in your heart towards anyone. Get rid of the expectations you place on people and start placing your expectations in Him! Forgiveness is an area I am sure many of us are struggling with or have struggled with. I believe God will transform our hearts and change the way we act and react to the offences we have experienced.
As it states in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to be at peace with everyone”. God wants to see us constantly trying to be at peace with everyone, including those who have wronged us. Even if they continue to hurt you or offend you, being at peace with them is still something He wants to see us doing. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that we are called to be close to everyone or become the best of friends with them, but it requires you to stop allowing their actions affect who Christ is calling you to be and how you treat them.
Remember, it’s not about eye for an eye. Even if they mistreat you, you should still be exactly who Christ wants you to be and act accordingly. He can restore broken relationships if you let Him, but it will require you to release them and not let anything they might say or do to you affect you or change the way you view them. We are all precious in Gods sight, including the people that are difficult to get along with. Every single one of us were on His mind when Christ suffered on that cross.
Forgiveness releases you and sets you free from the “prison” you have built around yourself. Always keep in mind that the Bible also says that if you do not forgive the trespasses of others, then God will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are to be more like Him, then being at peace with one another and forgiving the faults of others should be something we should do on a continuous basis.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”- Colossian 3:13