Naturally Unforgiving

“Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”- Mother Theresa

I remember once throwing a large blueberry muffin at my sister at the height of a disagreement between us. I threw it hard, aiming for her head. I think it hit her on the shoulder and EXPLODED on contact. We were both shocked – her because I actually threw a muffin at her, and me because I couldn’t believe it exploded the way it did. I have no idea what we were fighting about, but I NEEDED an avenue to vent my anger towards her. Even though I wanted to laugh, she looked me dead in the eyes, and chillingly said, “You. Clean. It.”

The desire to laugh was immediately replaced with an even hotter anger. I don’t know how long I stayed mad, but I know it lasted longer than it should have. My pride wouldn’t allow it to go any other way.

People usually react in one of two ways when they are hurt. In the flesh, we become bitter and angry and try to get even with those who have hurt us. In the Spirit, we respond in the way Christ responded to those who hurt Him.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He trusted Himself to the One who judges justly. This is a part of our calling. Because Christ suffered for us, we should be willing to follow in His example.

Is this true in your life?

I was talking to a young sister last night, and was touched by her willingness in an unfair situation to truly live out Christ-likeness in her faith. Though wronged, she never justified herself or retaliated against those who betrayed her, she simply trusted God to handle her situation. Just like Christ.

The same Holy Spirit dwells in both of us, but she is fully submitted to Him while I still feel the need to rely on my flesh to make sure that my reputation isn’t tarnished – especially by untruths.

This is a problem that plagues Christianity today, and causes so many of us to resemble the Antichrist rather than Jesus Christ. When we live out lives tainted with resentment and anger, we sway the world away from God rather than drawing them to Him.

Jesus Christ refused to let bitterness affect Him. After being falsely blamed by the very people He came to save, the Lord stood before Pilate and was silent. When the Romans pierced His hands with nails, He prayed that God would forgive them.

Christ didn’t seek vengeance against those who misunderstood Him, nor did He justify Himself, setting the record straight in light of the lies that were told about Him. He was utterly silent about the entire trial.

Many Christians cannot get over rejection, let alone misunderstanding. The hurt festers and eats them up, and they become ineffective Christians.

In our own strength, we are incapable to responding to hurt the way Jesus did. But the good news is that His Spirit lives within us, giving us both the power and the will to act supernaturally over our flesh.

If you are a Christian, expect to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We will experience pain and the heartbreak of rejection. We learn more by suffering than by studying. How we respond to that suffering, however, will determine whether we become broken or bitter.

Someone once said that you don’t hold a grudge. It holds you. Holding a grudge is self-inflicted pain. Consequently, resentment doesn’t imprison those who hurt you. It imprisons you.

In and of ourselves, we do not have the strength to forgive others who wound us. But we have the One who indwells us whose name is Forgiveness. And He is able and willing to forgive THROUGH us, if we are only willing to humble ourselves.

The response is anything but natural.

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