Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Five freedoms: freedom from resentment
THE COST OF BEING STINGY WITH GRACE
TODAY we come to what I consider to be the most common sin in the believing church generally – unforgiveness. We have experienced grace, yet we are strangely unwilling to measure out that same grace to others. Why is that? It is a key enemy strategy to inhabit this stronghold, and through it to spoil the abundant life which Christ purposes to give us. Resentment, the fruit of unforgiveness, is a real spoiler! Here’s what Jesus said:
Jesus said: “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full (abundance).”
So unforgiveness is the sin at the root, and what grows up is an attitude of resentment, which blocks the flow of God’s peace amnd joy in our lives. What does resentment look like? It is a barely-concealed anger and bitterness which controls our attitudes and actions so that we react to people and situations out of past hurts, rather than with freedom and love and good judgement.
Resentment poisons us physically as well as emotionally. Any GP will tell you that resentment plays out in many of their patients’ lives as hard-to-diagnose pain, ulcers, arthritis, high blood pressure and more. Medication may help with the symptoms. But the cure, available to us as believers, is straightforward, if you understand that you are made up of human spirit, soul (mind, will and emotions) as well as physical body, and each affects the others. So a darkness-to-light change in the spirit part of us will have an effect – sometimes a dramatic effect – on our thought life, and on how we present at the surgery!
if someone has hurt you badly and you refuse to forgive them, the deception is that you are somehow punishing THEM. And why should you forgive? They don’t deserve it!
– Run that one again – why should you forgive?
Whether they deserve it or not, the one who suffers most is the one who fails to forgive. Think of it like this. When someone wrongs you, a chain of resentment between you and them snaps into place. It connects you to them. You are offended and you see them as the offender, and even if you move to China, that chain still pulls on you painfully. So what do you do? Wait for them to say sorry? It probably won’t happen (and sometimes people offend without realising it).
What did God do in respect of us offenders? We have certainly caused Him hurt and pain through our offences! He made a way for us to be released through Jesus. We are already forgiven for those things we haven’t realised we need to say sorry for, yet.
THE RETURN ON GRACE RECEIVED, GRACE EXTENDED
So we do the same, and extend the same grace that God shows us, to the offending one. Write off the debt (like God did in Jesus). You may not feel like forgiving them and they may not deserve it, but do this for yourself. Make a CHOICE to forgive.
At that point the chain falls off you. You are free – and you have handed over the other person and the offence to the just Judge, God, to deal with in His own way. You choose not to see them as an offender any more (and to go a bit further, you choose to bless what God is doing in their lives).
BACK TO FRONT GOSPEL
Difficult? At first it is. Bizarre? It seems all back-to-front. But this is what Jesus modelled. In searing pain and with hardly enough breath to utter anything, from the Cross. Jesus said (Luke 23:34): “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
He commanded it. He taught the model prayer outline we call The Lord’s Prayer and added:
Matthew 6:14-15, also Mark 11:25
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone (Anything! Anyone! Unconditional!) forgive them, so that Your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.
This shows the gravity of the offence of unforgiveness.
And Paul wrote to the church in Colosse teaching them:
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And He did forgive us. When we turned to Him, we walked into an acceptance and forgiveness that was already waiting for us.
But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
HOW TO PRAY FORGIVENESS EFFECTIVELY
Usually we don’t ‘feel like’ forgiving someone. That’s the deception. Who said that feelings are a guide to what is true? Forgiveness is a choice, and a choice with a cost to us. Accept the cost, do it, and the feelings will follow your action, sometimes quickly and sometimes after a while.
Here’s a forgiveness prayer scheme:
Father, I choose to forgive [name]__________ for _____________(say how it made you feel)
Parents (living or dead)
Other family members
People you have worked with
People in your church congregation or growth group
Others in your past
…And don’t forget to forgive yourself!
Do this as hurts happen. Do what is needed every day. Do what you can yourself – but you may find the help of a pastoral team member or pastor really helpful in untying the tangle of emotions and coaching you through it.
This is a relatively simple action that has the capacity to kick the enemy out big time and bring huge beneficial change to your life. All because of who you are in Jesus, and what He had done for you.