January 9, 2007

 

Encouragement for Today

 

“It’s Nothing Personal”

Susanne Scheppmann, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member, Online Devotions Assistant Editor

 

Key Verse:

Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (NIV). 

 

Devotion:

I stared at the card that read, “It’s nothing personal.  I just need my space right now.” The words pierced my heart. To me it was intensely personal. These words were penned by someone I love. I didn’t understand. I still cannot comprehend the cold, unfeeling words written by someone who had always demonstrated a gentle and kind personality.

 

The hurt haunts my thoughts. I question, “Why?” At times, I want to retaliate with my own bitter words. Sharp retorts spring to mind, but then the Spirit of God whispers, “Forgive.”

 

This brings to mind one of my favorite stories in the Bible when Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. Thinking he would impress Jesus with his own willingness to grant forgiveness, he asked, “Seven?” I think Jesus probably smiled as He replied, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22 NIV).”  Oh, how I wish I could have seen Peter’s crestfallen face.

 

As I reflect on this each day, I long to follow the model of Jesus. People smirked, ridiculed, and laughed at Him. His disciples often misunderstood Him. The religious leaders criticized Him. However, no matter how people treated Jesus, He never retaliated. He responded with gentleness and love.

 

Forgiving someone can be difficult, especially when you feel you are innocent in the situation. Although the card stated, “It’s nothing personal,” the words indeed are very personal. I want to respond, “How can it not be personal to all of a sudden be shut out of someone’s life?” Nonetheless, God’s truth doesn’t change, for even in difficult situations His command is to forgive. He commands us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV). 

 

With those thoughts, I will “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” It will not be easy and will require much prayer to keep my hurt pride from lashing out at my loved one.   Although the words, “It’s nothing personal” still do not make sense to me, I will decide not to hold on to my personal hurt. Moreover, I will personally forgive as Jesus has asked me to do.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Lord Jesus, enable me to forgive those who hurt me. Remind me to keep the unity of peace as far as it is within my ability. Grant me an extra measure of the Holy Spirit to love those whom I need to forgive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Additional Resources: 

Get Over it and On With It by Michelle McKinney

 

Sandpaper People by Mary Southerland

 

An Encouraging Word, ETC Corner

 

Application Steps:  

In your Bible concordance, look up references for the term forgive. Write down the verses that speak to your heart. Read them each time a memory of hurt comes to mind and ask God to help you implant them in your heart.

 

Reflection Points: 

Do you tend to carry grudges?

 

Do find it difficult to forgive someone?

 

Is there someone you need to ask to forgive you?

 

Power Verses:

Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (NIV). 

 

Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV).

 

Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (NIV).