Dear Friends: This week there have been two incidents where hurt, and misunderstandings have threatened several of my most precious relationships. I know you too have dealt with this, and maybe it was also this week! As I referenced last week, ‘friendly fire’ is the worst kind of pain we must deal with! When those we love and count on offend or betray us, it hurts. A lot! They are ‘supposed’ to be our safe place. And as a result, our natural inclination is to stay focused on the offense and ourselves. Our reaction will be to either ‘fight or flight’. We may want to ‘fight’ and hurt the person back, or choose to take ‘flight’ and distance ourselves from the offender. We may even flee the scene for good, and call it quits on the relationship. None of these actions solves the problem or offers healing, but God’s way does.
His directions heal hearts and renew minds, and move us in a new direction…
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
Forgive ANYONE who offends you? Really? How in the world do we accomplish that? We don’t have to look far. All we need to do is look for God’s message and instructions in the scriptures leading up to and after the command itself.
Here are some ‘keys’ to being successful in forgiving and taking no offense.
Remember who we are and where to place your focus. (Colossians 3:1-4). If Christ is your Savior, then His focus is yours to have. He kept His eyes on the fact that He was God’s son, and what ultimately mattered was what mattered in heaven and the reward that would be awaiting Him. We can too. We have a choice not to sweat the small stuff. Take your focus off your hurt and look back to Christ. Make a new decision (laying down pride, picking up forgiveness) in resolving your conflicts that will have a positive payoff for you here on earth, and also in eternity. That’s an investment in all your relationships.
Die to self. (Colossians 3:5-9) Do you know what that means? It’s about making a choice to believe you aren’t the priority or the number one concern. Our normal responses (fighting back, name calling, anger, etc.) indicate that we are prioritizing ourselves above Him and others. God instructs us to put all that to death. Lay it down and be willing to pick up something else, His priority. How? Verse 8 gives us a clue: “…get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.” We choose to strip off what comes naturally to us. Look at our perfect example, Jesus. He didn’t make everything personal and about Himself. He put God’s agenda over His own.
Pick up and put on ‘new clothes’. (Colossians 3:12) “…clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Remember who you are, who lives in you and where your focus is. Make a decision to approach all situations with the heart of love. This will help you lay down the ‘clothes’ of anger and revenge and put on the ‘clothes’ of the Holy Spirit which reveals God’s heart for the other person (Galatians 5: 22-23). He gives us the power to do this. Ask for His help if you are struggling with His exchange program.
Reap the rewards of forgiveness. (Colossians 3:15-18) As we obediently follow God’s guidance, make allowances for each other’s faults (give the benefit of doubt), forgive and clothe ourselves with God’s love. The pleasure of God will be felt in our hearts and His peace will rule in our lives. The outcome of this? We will live with grateful lives and have thankful hearts.
Anger and gratitude don’t coexist well. Offense and peace are enemies of each other. God promises us peace if we follow Him. His truths in Colossians give us the directions. Choosing to give forgiveness in the face of a wrong or asking for forgiveness is one of His ‘keys’ to move past offenses in our lifetime.
It’s a choice. Live your way, or God’s way. Things go better if we allow the fullness of what Christ has afforded for us to have it’s way in our lives! Forgiveness is a natural by product of who God is and what He has already done for us out of His love. Follow His ways and your life can be rich and rewarding. Not to mention your relationships will be healthier!
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…do all in the name of Jesus Christ.” Colossians 3:15-17