This is WEEK 20 of the Character Development Series I am doing for 2012. So glad you stopped by!
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. - Mark Twain
He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven. – Thomas Fuller
Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. – Corrie Ten Boom
Forgiveness is the well from which we draw the water to wash others’ feet. – D. Siler
There are definitions for Forgiveness in the dictionary but when developing Godly character, we are not concerned with dictionary definitions. We want to cling to the definition of Biblical Forgiveness because it is key to the Christian walk. Biblical forgiveness involves our correct responses to God when people offend us. Read the rest of this entry
Ephesians 4: 31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.MY CONNECTION TO OTHERS: God made us for relationship with Him, and for relationship with one another. It’s easy to feel connected to God in the uplifting, positive, pleasurable connections and experiences we have with other people. When someone expresses love to us, gives us a friendly smile, compliments or commends us…..when someone wants to be with us, thinks we are talented, and they are impressed with us….we find their company and interactions favorable experiences…and we can be grateful.
But what about when our interactions with others are not pleasant? What about when they are rude, arrogant, and speak unkindly to us? What about when they do not like us, or they go so far as to speak ill of us, and maybe even try to damage our character and reputation. How do we fight against the defensive tendency to become bitter, and resentful or retaliate with like behavior, or to just shrink away from contact with people all together? How do we find God at work in such yucky, hurtful, difficult experiences with others? BY REMEMBERING THE GRACE AND MERCY EXTENDED US BY GOD, AND EXTENDING THE SAME GRACE, MERCY, AND COMPASSION TO OTHERS. God may be at work in that person’s life, and you might be a tool He can use to reflect His attributes and love….or you could be a hindrance that further alienates and confuses them. Look outside the immediate conflict or negative encounter to try and figure out what it’s all about. It might not really be about you at all – imagine that :) . Perhaps there is some stress, frustration, fear, or need in that person’s life that is just expressing itself in the immediate moment. We all have broken, wounded, sensitive areas in our lives. We have fears, insecurities, stressors. And, we all have selfishness, wrong thinking, human emotions, prejudices, and reactions to deal with.
Think about: What could I do to help make this more positive, reduce some stress, to show care or concern? Ask God to show you how to respond or how He wants to use you. Often, in the hospital where I work, I encounter family members who feel out of control when their loved one is ill. This stress can manifest in a lot of tension, complaints, and other issues. Sometimes, they just need you to take an extra couple of minutes every day to stop by the room and give them feedback on what’s going on with their loved one and to make them feel part of the process, and their hospital experience becomes more positive.
Think about: What can I do to define a situation for someone. Being kind, and responding in a Christlike manner doesn’t mean being a doormat. Sometimes, God may want you to take action to define boundaries with another person, or to help them understand need for change or compromise. The Bible gives clear instruction for confronting one another in love. My husband and I have tried God on this one, and He has blessed us with reconciliation with others that could have turned into ugly situations if we had just reacted in anger and retaliation. It is important to remember, however, that reconciliation will not always be the end result, but at least you can rest in the comfort of knowing you did your part.
Think about: Do we trust in God’s opinion of us, or do we give too much concern to man’s opinions? We can not change others or control how they choose to interact with us. God is the only one that can change a person’s heart. In dealing with difficult people, we have to surrender the outcomes ultimately to Him. Sometimes we just have to suffer faithfully the injustices of others. We have to let God be judge and jury on this earth, and rest in the knowledge that He is ultimately in control of every situation and can use it for His glory and for His purpose. This is where we have opportunity to share in His afflictions and persecutions – (less of me, more of Him). Know that God does care and will honor your trust and submission to Him in the midst of trials and tribulations.
Most importantly – PRAY FOR THAT PERSON! Have compassion for others. When people feel unhappy, unloved, and/or insecure, they have a hard time interacting positively and appropriately with others… Without Christ, they can’t see much farther than their own noses, and that’s a sad, lonely, miserable place to be. Desire and pray that they be set free from their shackles…free to truly care about others, to value others and to be able to be happy for others. Do your part to respond as Christ would have you respond, and then let God do the work He does best – soften hearts to receive His love.
Prayer For Your Interactions With Others: May you remember to surrender all outcomes to God who knows best, and can bring about the best outcomes. May you count it a privilege and an opportunity to reflect Christ, and to be a tool He can use in another’s life when you encounter difficult people and unpleasant circumstances with others. May you ultimately learn to rest in the truth of God’s love and acceptance of you, and not in the opinion of man.
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