Luke 6:23 TM
When you’ve been treated badly, always ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience? How do I respond in a more Christlike manner? Am I willing to acknowledge my mistakes? How can I grow wiser and handle similar experiences better in the future?” When all is said and done, the answer to misunderstanding is forgiveness. Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with or want a close relationship with the person who mistreated you. But it does mean that you let it go. When you bury the hatchet, don’t leave the handle sticking up! In other words, don’t just forgive – choose to forget! Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be great is to be misunderstood.” And here’s an even better statement: “To be greater is to forgive the one who has treated you badly.” Paul refers to the Christian life as “the high calling of God” (Philippians 3:14). So take the high road! What does that road look like? Jesus tells us: “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is…the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable…be glad when that happens…all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my…witnesses have always been treated like this” (vv. 22-23 TM). By living this way, you also take back your power by refusing to let another person dictate your mood and your outlook, and you keep your joy.
Soul food: Rev 10-14; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 4; Pro 12:25
Romans 12:19 NKJV
Vengeance is God’s job, not yours. He will repay – whether on the Day of Judgment or in this life. He can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent, bring your ex to his knees or her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right amount of retribution. We give too much or too little, but He has the precise prescription. And unlike us, He never gives up on a person. (And you should be glad about that). Long after we have moved on, God is still there probing the conscience, stirring conviction, orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God’s job. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you come in. “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead…’If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (vv. 17-21 NLT). Author Max Lucado says: “Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do – themselves. No wonder God insists we ‘Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent’ (Hebrews 12:15 TM).”
Soul food: Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29
Romans 12:19 NIV
When someone hurts us, we often naturally want revenge. We want them to feel the pain that they have caused us. But revenge is not God’s way. God’s way is forgiveness. That doesn’t mean that justice doesn’t happen. God is the ultimate judge. It is up to Him to bring justice. He says: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’. That might be on Judgment Day or in this life. But He calls us to forgive others. We’re told to ‘Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. Instead…”If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good’ (vv.17-21 NLT). Forgiving someone doesn’t mean they avoid justice; it means we’re trusting God to deal out justice. And He never gives up on a person. Even after we’ve moved on, God’s still there pricking the person’s conscience, stirring conviction in their heart, and orchestrating redemption and change in their life. The Bible says: ‘Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ’ (Ephesians 4:31-32 NCV). So let’s try and be people who forgive those who have hurt us, and leave the justice to God.
Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29
Ephesians 4:27 NAS
The Bible says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (vv. 26-27 NAS). The word translated “opportunity” is the Greek word topos, the same term from which we get the English noun topography. It means territory or ground. And anger gives ground to the Devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart. And when you do, he will move in and stink up the place with things like gossip, slander, temper – any time you see these, you have given ground to Satan. What should you do? Evict him. Don’t give him the time of day. In the name of Jesus tell him to pack his bags and hit the road. Begin the process of forgiveness. Keep no list of wrongs. Pray for your antagonists rather than plot against them. Hate the wrong without hating the wrongdoers. Turn your attention away from what they did to you and begin to dwell on what Jesus did for you. Outrageous as it may seem, He died for them too. And if He thinks they are worth forgiving, then they are. Does that make forgiveness easy? No. It comes in fits and starts, has good days and bad. Some days when you think your old wound has healed and you’ve gotten over it, someone will knock the scab off it and the pain will return. This is okay. When it comes to forgiveness all of us are beginners. As long as you are trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It’s only when you no longer try that you give ground to the Devil.
Soul food: Job 32-34; Luke 19:11-19; Ps 55:12-23; Prov 8:19-21
Ephesians 4:27 NIV
The Bible says, ‘”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold’ (vv. 26-27 NIV). The word translated ‘foothold’ in the NIV version is the Greek word topos. It means a place, territory, or ground. And anger gives ground to the devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in our hearts. This makes us prone to things like gossip, negative talk, and lying. We know that we shouldn’t let the devil have room in our hearts, but it can be hard to keep him out. Our human nature makes us more likely to become angry and frustrated in situations where we should show grace. When we get hurt by others, we find it’s harder to forgive them than it is to remain bitter and resentful. But when we notice the devil has got a ‘foothold’ in our lives, we need to make him leave. So how do we do that? We need to begin the process of forgiveness, avoid making mental lists of the things people have done to us, and pray for those we struggle to get along with rather than plot against them. We need to turn our attention away from what they did to us and begin to focus on what Jesus did for us. We should never forget that He died for them too. And if He thinks they’re worth forgiving, then they are. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Some days when we think we’ve healed and moved on, something can happen that makes the pain return. And then we have to start the process of forgiving again. As long as we’re trying to forgive, love, and become more like Christ, we’re not giving the devil a ‘foothold’ in our lives.
Job 32-34; Luke 19:11-19; Ps 55:12-23; Prov 8:19-21