God Is All About Forgiveness (Proverbs 17:9)
By: Anne Peterson
Today’s Bible Verse: Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. - Proverbs 17:9
The mood is tense. You were caught off guard, and before you know it your first thought is not to keep silent. You are not interested in praying before you respond, so instead, you react. And it’s not good. Has this ever happened to you?
God tells us to be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other, just as he forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). I think at times we have a different way of looking at forgiveness.
We sometimes make our decision to forgive based on the amount of hurt we experienced. A small offense is easier to forgive. But when something pierces our hearts, that’s another story. And yet, God tells us we are to forgive as he forgave us. That means we must forgive like he did. Did we deserve forgiveness? No, we didn’t. And yet, Jesus forgave us. We’re supposed to forgive as he did.
I remember a speaker once saying, “if you’re not sure you’ve forgiven someone, just imagine they are approaching you on the sidewalk. Would your heart welcome them, or would you rather cross over to the other side of the street?”
Sometimes we try to fool ourselves into believing we’ve forgiven someone when in reality, we’ve just pushed it out of our minds, or down inside of us. Pushing our emotions down doesn’t help. They will surface, and sometimes it’s not pretty when they do.
When we bottle up our feelings, we don’t get to sort them out nicely and prayerfully. Instead of choosing which words to say and which to hold back, they all push and shove each other, demanding to be heard.
Solomon was wise when he said a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1). Our words can be like gasoline on fire. We stand there watching the flames shoot up for feet above us. And while we attempt to justify our actions, God tells us to respond in love and to forgive.
Remember when Joseph was wrongly accused? He still chose to do what was right. And God honored Joseph’s decision. God worked it all together for good (Romans 8:28).
Time is a precious commodity. We can waste it, or we can let God show us how to redeem it. In the case of disagreements, we can be open to God showing us our parts. We can ask God to soften our hearts as well as the hearts of those we hurt. He is more than willing to do that.
God is for unity, Satan is not. So when we are at odds with someone, the enemy is happy.
What is the answer? When you are in the heat of a battle, breathe and send up a prayer to the Lord. As him to silence any word that will not be for the other person.
Pray that God will show you how you can be more loving.
When we care more about the other person than we do about our own feelings, we are moving in the right direction. God tells us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility to consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Whenever we are planning what we will say next, we are focused on ourselves. The thing is, I am not responsible for what the other person says, but I AM responsible for the words that come out of my mouth.
I don’t believe we can truly forgive apart from the Lord. We get in the way too much. We try to justify our own actions. Maybe because we care more about us, or about being right.
If we commit our interactions to God, the Holy Spirit will show us where we need to be more loving, more forgiving. And then we have a choice. Will we choose to hold onto our hurt, to store it away with others? Or will we forgive as we were forgiven? When God forgave us, it was totally.
God will give us grace for our interactions with others because God loves unity. And God is all about forgiveness. He really is.
The fog is finally lifting, Lord,
some things are getting clear.
And images that once were large
have seemed to disappear.
I feel the pressure lessen,
perhaps I’m getting strong.
And I am not surprised to find
you’ve been here all along. -Anne Peterson © 2020
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There:Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne’s first memoir is: Broken: A story of Abuse, Survival and Hope. She has published children’s books and poetry books, such as Droplets: Poetry for Those in Grief, and He Whispers: Poetic talks with God. Anne is also a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com. Anne’s poetry has been sold in gift stores since 1996. Check out Anne’s website at www.annepeterson.com or connect with her on Facebook.
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