While Christ's forgiveness sets me free, my choice to live in forgiveness toward others helps me stay free.
I thought of this truth again as I was studying in Genesis 27:41-46 during my time with God yesterday morning. These verses describe Esau's response to Jacob's stealing his blessings from his father. What really struck me was the wording of the 42nd verse in NIV:
"When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, "Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you."
That whole idea of Esau consoling himself with his grudge and with the thought of killing his brother really hit me and has kept on in the back of my mind for the last couple of days. Although I've never wanted to actually kill someone, I have to admit that I have consoled myself in negative ways before in my life. There's a kind of sick delight, a pity party type mentality, that I can get caught up in when someone really does me wrong.
There's even this really funny country song that came out not too long ago, that I crack up laughing every time I hear, where the song writer is doing just that - consoling himself with thoughts of harm coming to the one who has hurt him.
While this song is definitely amusing, and we can all relate to the feelings, the results of unforgivenss are not funny.
Have you ever met a really bitter person? I have, and I bet you have as well. Those people who have had some terrible thing happen in their lives, usually at the hands of someone else, and they refuse to let it go, they refuse to move on past it. They are consumed with that bad event and it negatively affects their daily lives and the person they become. When I've been around people like that, the experience hasn't been a pleasant one. I've met enough of such people that years ago I vowed I would never let myself become one.
That's why 10 years ago when I had someone I loved and trusted do me wrong in ways that negatively impacted my life in ways over which I had little control, I chose to forgive him. I forgave him simply for myself, because I did not want to become a horrible, bitter, unhappy person. That forgiveness didn't come easy for me. Things would continue to come up because of this person's actions and I had to keep forgiving. There were days when I had to fight against the depression that comes when someone you love and trust betrays you. But through it all, by the power and grace God gave me, I continued in the choice of forgiveness. I want to emphasize that I did not make the choice to forgive because I was very spiritual or good, I made that choice because I didn't want to end up like those bitter people I had met.
Sometimes in daily life things will come up, not big things like that situation 10 years ago, but smaller situations, where people will either willfully or unknowingly do me wrong. Whenever those situations arise I try to go right away to God in prayer. Because I don't want even the smallest bit of unforgiveness to ferret its way into my heart or life. I'm mindful of the passage in Hebrews 12:14-16, especially the 15th verse:
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
I just don't want to let bitterness get into my life. I don't want to become one of those bitter people I've encountered.
Currently in my life I have a young man and a young woman, both of whom are under 25 years old. Both of these young people are very near and dear to my heart. I pray for both of them and long for each of them to be blessed and used by God. Both are very gifted and hard working individuals who experience lots of success in their lives. To meet either one of them is to note that he/she is one of those really exceptional people. But each of them harbors unforgiveness, and I can see it's negative impact on both of their lives. Each of them are wonderful people, and because they are still so young, they do not have that bitter person persona yet. But I can still see the outcomes in their lives from their unforgiveness in subtle ways. Both have reasons to be hurt, both could be "justified" in their unforgiveness, but the person it is hurting is themselves. Neither are people with whom I have yet received a release to discuss this issue. I pray frequently for both of them regarding the unforgiveness they each harbor, and my heart aches for the pain I recognize they are each experiencing.
What about you, do you have someone who has deeply wronged you toward whom you are harboring unforgiveness? Do you console yourself with negative thoughts toward that person? Or is there someone you deeply care about that you are watching console themselves with unforgiveness?
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