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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Undoing those knots

Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them.  It’s time to stop bringing grief to God’s Holy Spirit; you have been sealed with the Spirit, marked as His own for the day of rescue.  Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King. (Ephesians 4:29-32 VOICE)


Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." He certainly had that right! Forgiveness requires more strength than almost anything else - because we have to overcome the hurdle of feeling we have a "right" to hold that grudge against the one who hurt us. Back in the day, Superman was probably one of our only "super-heroes" and his comics are well known for the phrase of being "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." Most of us don't "leap tall buildings" no matter how many "bounds" we take! We just don't have the "power" to do so. We are not faster than a speeding bullet, nor are we more powerful than a locomotive. The speed at which we forgive is kind of like that of a snail - not a speeding bullet! The power to overcome those ill-feelings is definitely much more than that of a powerful locomotive! In each of the cases where I have needed to forgive an offense, the only power, strength, and speed that matters is how quickly I rely upon his power, lean into it with his strength, and take action to let it go in the speed which he requires!


Gandhi indicated the weak have a hard time forgiving. I think it is more than just their "weakness" that keeps them from forgiving - it might just be there is something more at the core of unforgiveness than one's weakness. I have stood so "stubbornly right" that I was unable or unwilling to forgive the offense - simply because I could not or would not admit another may have been right, or that they stand in need of being "let off the hook" on the matter at hand. Sometimes I have stubbornly dug in, determining that I would hold on for however long it took for THEM to realize THEY were the ones who did ME wrong! Aye caramba! What a mess I made of those situations - all because I was too "weak" to admit my stubbornness!


Gandhi also said, "I know, to banish anger altogether from one's breast is a difficult task. It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort. It can be done only by God's grace." He hit it on the head there - nothing we do ever gets us to the place of truly letting go of the right to feel injured because of another's actions. We cannot let go until we let God take that injury upon himself and then we are free to "banish" that anger and hurt far from us - this is the action of grace within us. Strength may just be evident in giving control of our "right to be hurt" to the one who bore all hurt upon his frame as he endured the cross in our place!


Anger and hurt go hand-in-hand. We get hurt, then we get angry. We get hurt, then we "tie" another to that hurt through our anger. We hold them captive in our thoughts, allowing our motives to be affected, and then in turn, we see our actions exhibit that stubborn anger which holds them bound to that infraction. As Jesus instructed his disciples, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Christ did not "tie us to our sin", but "undid" the ropes that held us bound - he released us. That is what is at the core of forgiveness - release. If we are to examine this closely, forgiveness does more than just release the other guy - it means we don't have to keep watch over the "tightness" of those knots any longer either! Just sayin!