I am a person that worries about the good opinions of others. I badly want to be understood and get uncomfortable when I think that others perceive me incorrectly. Do you struggle with that as I do? I often do things with good intentions, trying to understand and communicate openly, but I sometimes find my actions, or words, received negatively. I am a “get to the bottom of things” person – I really am. I am a person who communicates probably more than I ever need to – because I really believe that the enemy of our souls operates in the dark – and so if we talk through things and expose everything to the light – we will find healing and we will find that the things that unite us will overwhelm the things that divide us.
I think we are crazy divisive as humans. Let me correct that statement – I don’t think that, I KNOW that. We assume the worst of others while expecting others to assume the best of us. As Believers, honestly, we don’t have license to operate that way. We don’t have license to assume the worst and allow division and bitterness to invade the church. We don’t. If you study the Word, that junk is absolutely not tolerated. My former Pastor preached on this a few months ago. He preached on the nature of God to forgive. He talked about the bondage that ties us up when we deny forgiveness to another Believer. He talked about the continuous nature of forgiveness – that it is work, but it is worthy work and only when we work at it do we achieve freedom. He is a fisherman – his entire family is – so he did this illustration of forgiveness as a line. You forgive, then you go down the line and there is a knot or a kink in the line. So you have a choice, you can stop there and get stuck, or you can forgive again and untie that knot and continue to travel down the line. And sometimes the knots are close together, and you have to stop and choose to forgive every time the offense replays in the theatre of your mind. But you do it – because you must be free – and because you don’t want to stop growing and stop healing. Because the nature of our Saviour is to forgive. And the comforting thing he has found, is that as you grow and as you progress, the distance between knots grows. We begin to walk in forgiveness.
All of that struck me – it was such great truth. And let me tell you, I have watched this man walk this walk of forgiveness. I read Isaiah 61 “provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” and it reminds me of what I have seen God do.
I can relate to this knot concept. There are people who have hurt me and Justin. (And by the way – isn’t it often harder to forgive someone who has hurt a member of your family than someone who has hurt you? That is where the truth of God smacks up against our human nature to protect the ones we love, but the Bible doesn’t give license even in that situation to live in unforgiveness. The command is absolute. Seventy times seven.) Sometimes it seems like I “forgive them” often – really often. And sometimes the remembrance of the offense is so strong and plays in my head and I have to fight it off and choose to let it go. It is difficult. But when I do it – I do experience freedom. And when I don’t, the replays get stronger and sometimes I can live in anger and grit my teeth for a couple of days before I realize what’s going on in my head and I again commit to forgive. But like Pastor’s experience, the times between the replay and the anger and the feelings of retaliation slowly get farther and farther away until I seldom think about the offense. I think that is our human version of forgiveness. We can never forget, but we can choose to forgive.
So today, do you want to join me in untying the knots that bind us in unforgiveness? We need to release all hurt and anger and bitterness – because all those things do is reside in us and poison our ability to feel joy and peace. And according to Ephesians 6:12, our enemy is never our brother, so we have no choice to hold onto unforgiveness against a fellow Believer in Christ. We might as well release it and choose to walk in unity, realizing that our battle is against the forces of darkness in this world.