Thieves of Peace #1- Unforgiveness
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you, Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT.
I once helped a woman clean out the kitchen of her finished basement. She had not touched it in many months. Her husband suffered a stroke two years earlier and now their life together existed on the main floor only. They designed the basement to entertain large groups of family and friends but all of that stopped after the stroke. Unfortunately, in aftermath of this major life change, the poor woman never cleaned out the refrigerator and the cupboards in the basement. Now, two years later, she needed help.
A friend and I tackled the neglected kitchen one afternoon after the couple drove away to a physical therapy appointment. When we opened the refrigerator, the smell of spoiled meats, moldy cheeses and bags of slop that had once been fresh vegetables greeted us so enthusiastically, we dashed outside to breathe fresh air. Next, we ran to the corner store for masks.
In the cupboards, crackers and other dried goods crawled with weevils and moths and were sprinkled with mouse droppings. I skipped supper that night. The stench lingered in my sinuses for days.
This is how unforgiveness looks and smells to God. Someone hurts or offends us and instead of forgiving them, we hold onto it. We let the sins of others rot in our souls. Our offenders go on their merry way, often never realizing they damaged us. Meanwhile, we’ve got the moldy, spoiled, soupy mess of other people’s sins rotting inside of us.
A soul that stores these things is not at peace.
An unforgiving soul is a troubled soul.
Forgiving those who hurt us is not optional in God’s kingdom,
though we sometimes act like it is.
Jesus wasn’t messing around when he said in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive otherstheir trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” He could not be any plainer. Being at peace with God and others is fueled by grace, mercy and forgiveness. God forgives us, we forgive others. This creates and maintains a cycle of reconciliation and peace.
Has your inner peace been disrupted because you are holding back forgiveness? Some people will never even know they hurt you.
Some will never understand how deeply they hurt you.
A few will continue to hurt you.
Set your mind to make forgiveness a lifestyle, like Jesus, because it’s highly likely someone will mess with your life or emotions in some way every day.
For practical wisdom on the work of forgiving people, I recommend Lysa Ter Keurst’s book, “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget.” For today, open your heart to God concerning people who have wronged you. Let him clean out any festering soul messes through the process of forgiveness.