Over the past few weeks, Denisha talked about navigating the negative thoughts in our own mind that hold us back. It is always harder than we think it will be to listen to the truth of what God has to say about us, instead of the negativity. However, we have to learn to do that to be able to step out of our comfort zones in faith.
“Don’t do it out of obligation, or work, do it out of My love for them.”Denisha
That will preach right there!
What about when people are hard to love? Or what about when we are hurt by others?
We have a spiritual enemy who is looking for ways to trap us. His goal for our life is to steal it, kill it, and destroy it (see John 10:10) and one of the ways he likes to do that is through the trap of offense. In order to be successful, a trap has to be hidden and baited.
This is often how the enemy works in our lives. We usually don’t see it coming until it smacks us in the face and we find ourselves stuck in his trap.
When we come across the bait of hurt, jealousy, and strife, anger, bitterness, and resentment and we take the bait, by picking it up and feeding on it, we step into the very dangerous trap of offense.
The enemy is smart, he keeps the offenses hidden in our lives by covering them up with pride which will keep us from truly and humbly looking at what is going on in our hearts.
Pride makes us think that because we were treated unjustly, we reserve the right to withhold forgiveness and be offended.
Meanwhile, the enemy is doing a creepy evil laugh and loving that we have taken the bait of offense. He now has a foothold in our lives and can undermine not just our relationship with others but also our relationship with God.
When these conflicts and hard times come up in our lives, God uses them to refine us like gold in a fire. The heat and pressure separate out the impurities of anger, unforgiveness and offense. In their place is created an atmosphere of humility and growth for the character and nature of Jesus to rise up and take root.
“God often places us in uncomfortable places and under increasing pressure so that we may be shaped by His love and refining fire.” John Bevere
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”1 Peter 1:6-7
Take a survey and inventory of your life with the Lord in prayer.
What are the impurities in your heart and mind that have taken root and have been hindering the character of God from growing in your life?
Begin to humbly surrender them to Him and let Him replace them with more of Himself.
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone…if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”Romans 12:17-21
Trials and testings serve as a microscope that reveals the true condition of our hearts.
They show us the areas in our heart that we still need the truths of the Gospel to do their healing work. When we hold onto the hurt and offenses
Jesus told a story illustrating this in Matthew 18:21-35. I will summarize it in the Alicia version. Jesus told a story of a man who owed a debt of 10,000 talents to his King. One talent was worth more than 15 years of wages…So when we multiply, carry the 1, etc. that equals: his debt was so far out of his reach he would never be able to repay it.
“And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.” (vs 27)
So that servant clicked his heels together and went off skipping and whistling a fun tune, I mean who wouldn’t right!
But then he runs into a friend who owes him a hundred denarii, which was only a hundred day’s wages, but he throws him into prison and demands he pays him back.
This news gets back to the king who calls the first guy back to him and says,
“You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt…should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same
Our forgiveness of others is based on God’s unlimited forgiveness given to us through what Jesus did for us.
We will always be treated badly by others in our lives because of the existence of sin in the world. But when we realize the truths of the Gospel in deeper ways, the work of the Gospel in our own life will enable us to release others unconditionally as well.
Relationships are messy and difficult. Trust me I work with teen girls. The mess is real. But I think I would say one of the most incredible things is watching my girls come into the program angry, hurt, betrayed and wounded, and then encountering the love of God in such deep ways that their entire lives are transformed. They are able to do deep forgiveness work for the first time in their lives, they experience what it means to be loved, accepted and wanted by the God of the universe and fall in love with Him. And the rest is history.
Being able to be free from hurt, bitterness