January 21, 2008
When We're Wronged
by Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Heb 4: 12-13
She was pretty, charming, and funny. She appeared to be everything you could want in a woman. And she was after my man. With full knowledge of our relationship, this young woman zeroed in on my special someone. All while acting sweet as pie towards me.
There are few things in life that can turn an otherwise sane, amiable woman into fire-breathing, green-eyed, insecure monster – and another woman moving in on your guy is definitely one of those things.
How. Dare. She.
It's by God's grace that in my hot-blooded state I – did nothing. Oh, I still had plans to dislike this woman for a very long time. I dreamt up all sorts of scenarios where I wittily drew back the curtain on her true intentions. Where I triumphantly shamed her. But of course, I was too virtuous to actually follow through on such things. So, I managed to exert enough self control to avoid a regretful exchange.
Thankfully, God took this situation one step deeper by expanding my limited sense of "virtue." I'd read about forgiveness, but this was a moment in my life where God clearly set a choice before me: She was wrong. I was right. Now - was I going to forgive her? Or was I simply going to look like I'd forgiven her?
One of the key aspects of Jesus' earthly ministry was His focus on that which is unseen – our hearts. This took many of his contemporaries by surprise. They were expecting an earthly king to save them from external problems. Yet Christ made it clear He came to elevate the old law beyond its legal purposes, and transform us from the inside out to prepare us for a kingdom not of this world.
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Mt 5: 43-45)
Love your enemies. It sounds downright impossible. Yet God impressed two courses of action on my heart during that time that transformed my anger into Christ-like love.
First, although there really wasn't a productive opportunity to speak with this woman, every time I mentally began hopping down the angry bunny trail, I said, "God, I forgive her." Verbally expressing forgiveness diffused my anger, and helped me focus on God and His grace.
Second, as Christ asks of us in the Scripture above, I began praying for her. At first, my prayers came through gritted teeth, and teetered dangerously close to sounding something like, "Lord, smite my foe…" But after praying for her almost every day for several months, the Lord transformed my heart. I began to see this woman as God sees her. Truly, whatever brokenness inside her that led her to act in such a manner saddened God more than it could ever anger me.
I also became acutely aware that I, in my brokenness, had saddened God too. Suddenly, this woman wasn't my opponent, but a fellow sinner in need of grace and transforming love. Ultimately, this situation worked out for the best, and I ended up liking this individual.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…
Forgiveness doesn't usually come easily. People are capable of tremendous evil far beyond my petty situation above, and depending on the wrong done, we may never realistically like a person. But with God's grace, forgiveness on our end is not only possible, but necessary.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Forgiveness involves letting go and allowing God to bring good out of a situation in His timing. Do you have unresolved hurts inflicted by another person? Entrust your hurts to God, and then ask God for a heart of forgiveness. If you've harmed another, take action to make things right