I loved Saturday’s devotional that I get in my work e-mail inbox (I didn’t actually take a look at it until this morning. I’ve pasted it below). Oddly, this verse was a reference either in the Bible truth covered on Saturday morning or during the sermon yesterday. These messages always seem to mesh seamlessly–despite the fact that the Bible study and my church are completely separate activities with no administrative crossover, other than they both occur in the same building. God provides this crazy continuity when He’s teaching us stuff. Does anyone else experience this?
Hmmmm. Anyway, I love the metaphor below: “Love removes the teeth out of difficult situations.” Oh, it’s soooo very true.
I’ll be completely honest (Yet, when have you known me not to be?). When I feel I’ve been wronged, I get pretty irritated. Maybe you can relate. The perceived “wrong” gets under my skin, and while part of me wants to just continue to extend grace, chill, and do nothing, realizing that I cannot control other people’s actions, the other part of me wants to strike back and make them hurt as much as they’ve hurt me. I mean, it isn’t fair. Why should I be the only one made to feel like crap?
I write this like it’s a novel idea, but I’m finding that even sisters and brothers in Christ have the ability to hurt through their actions–and inactions–maybe even more than those we know who haven’t yet come to Christ. Maybe it’s because we set our expectations higher for those we know seek Christ and His ways.
But here’s the thing…we’re all sinners. No one of our sins is any better or worse than the others’. So what business do I have being critical of others’ actions? None at all. I’m sure other sisters and brothers in Christ have felt the same bitterness toward me in the past: inevitably, I’ve done something–or not done something–that has really hurt someone. And it’s stung, and it’s made them want to throw it right back to me with the kind of fervor that only disappointment can stir up. That’s the reality, and I have to just thank God that he restored those friendships and relationships, and that the other person/people gave me grace.
Bitterness takes root, followed by its snively wingman, Unforgiveness. We have a choice to forgive, or to let Unforgiveness set up camp in our lives until it becomes a cancer that eats away at our heart. And our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t want that for us. Today I take a big step back, looking at the broader picture, and I thank God for all that He has done in my life, despite the moments where I may grumble about this or covet that. I also thank him for his grace for me–a superheroine when it comes to sinning. I choose forgiveness (I chose it yesterday, too, but these things you keep having to give up to God, I’m learning, until you’re blue in the face), and I pray that the Holy Spirit cleanses and redeems my heart, and that he uses my words and actions to His glory.
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.”–Proverbs 10:12
THOUGHT: Our worst tendencies want to repay evil with evil, spite for spite, pettiness with pettiness, and hatred with hatred. God has always wanted his people to be the redemptive influence in their world, society, and relationships. Paul reminded the Christians in Rome to “not repay evil with evil” (Rom. 12:17). Here, God’s wise man teaches us a similar truth. Love removes the teeth out of difficult situations, while hatred only turns up the flames of bitterness and hate. We’re called to be a different kind of people that leave the world a better place. It isn’t always easy, but it is always powerful.
PRAYER: Father, I confess that when I’m wronged it makes me angry and I’m tempted to strike back in kind. Please, remove the baser side of my character through the cleansing and redeeming influence of your Holy Spirit and the love your Spirit inspires. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.