As I move along, slowly, in my quest to walk where God wants me to be and learn what God wants me to know, He has revisited with me the weighty matter of loving and forgiving others, and its imperativeness for experiencing the full power of His Spirit, and His blessings in my life, the full expression of His gifts 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, and the simple truth that if I claim to love God, I will love and forgive others. 1 John 4:20
But, let’s face it, once I start harboring bitterness, anger, resentment, or even common annoyance against someone it is difficult to uproot. It’s hard to even want to uproot it. I am very comfortable in my annoyance with some people – and isn’t it funny how resentment begets resentment, or anger begets anger? Because when I’m allowing annoyance with someone to fester, I just look for more reasons to be annoyed with them! Happily tending my little garden of petty, ugly wrongs. Blah! So not a 1 Corinithians 13 attitude.
So instead of the yucky, painful, dirty work of pulling up all those thick-rooted weeds of annoyance, there are a few things that I do to keep from letting them grow in the first place.
1. AGREE QUICKLY – PURSUE PEACE.
As much as you can, live in peace with all men. Romans 12:18
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone . . . Hebrews 12:14
Agree with your adversary quickly . . . Matthew 5:25
I love how the different aspects of God and His Spirit all fit together. And here love, and forgiveness merge seamlessly with His teachings on peace. When I am tempted to argue, or be un-righteously opinionated, or to have the last word, I remind myself that I am to seek peace first and foremost – not to be right. Merely checking myself and reprioritizing my goals in a conversation avoid so many hurtful words.
2. SPEAK YOUR MIND (when appropriate).
. . . be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you . . . 1 Peter 3:15
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom. Colossians 3:16
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God. 2 Corinthians 10:5
This may seem contrary to #1, but this is where some Godly discretion comes in. It is not good either to say all that’s on my mind, or never to say anything.
Sometimes, when lead by the Holy Spirit, I must speak my mind – or rather God’s mind, and be a witness for His truths (in gentleness and meekness – 1 Peter 3:16). When I fail to do this, it often leads me to bitterness and resentment as I re-live in my mind all the things I could have/should have said, and those things become warped in my mind into the things I wish I had said.
When I speak my mind in a God-fearing attitude, and then move on, I feel that – no matter how the other person responds, or what hurtful things they may say – I have done my part, and can leave it where it lies. No bitterness, no resentment, no residual anger. I have done what God asked me to do, and He will take care of the rest. Several times a day a pray this verse – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD,” my strength and my salvation. Psalm 19:14
3. DONT LET THE SUN GO DOWN.
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
Pretty simple, huh? I know that, no matter what, by the end of the day – even if a hurtful topic will have to be readdressed at a later date, even if I know the offender will re-offend, no.matter.what . . . by the end of the day, I must turn it over to God and let Him be God. I have until I lay my head on my pillow (at least that’s my cut own personal cut-off) to get all the getting-over-it done with. NOT easy. But it is a lot easier than giving the devil the foothold and trying to yank up that ugly un-forgiveness later. I have seen how toxic not letting go of the “little things” can make life. And I am here to say that, for me, it is not worth it to sit in my comfortable chair of self-righteousness, surrounded by my cushions of undeserved wrongs.
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing 2 Thessalonians 3:13
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think . . . Romans 12:3
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Whenever I feel the roots of resentment, un-forgiveness, or even a critical spirit creep in I re-focus on three things: (1) I am not busy enough doing what God needs me to be doing if I have time for this nonsense. (2) I am very, very, very, very far from perfect, and if I’m gonna think about somebody’s mistakes, maybe it should be my own before pride maketh me a’fall. And (3) Jesus DIED for me while I was still a sinner, when I didn’t even know that I needed His help. So maybe I should cut other people just a little bit of slack too. Maybe I should take all this free time I have to be hating on people, and think about THAT for a second.
I find that the more I walk in love and try to head off these hurts, and wrongs, and grievances in the first place, the less I have to forgive (or maybe I should say – the easier it is to forgive them before they fester), and the more I keep myself in God’s peace.