Monday, July 31, 2017

Beyond Words

Rays by Surlan Soosay
Flickr.com_photos/ssoosay/6995846806_CC BY-ND 2.0
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People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b

I’m a slow forgiver. You?

So, when the sassy girl at work spewed insults under her breath in my direction, my heart hardened. I took mental note and recorded her name on my imaginary “grudge list”. Yep, instead of being the Jesus girl, I chose to be the grudge girl. My motto used to be, “I’m the kindest person you’ll ever meet…just don’t cross me.”
Not proud of that, but it’s the truth.

Loneliness marks the trail of a slow-forgiving, silent, grudge girl. Skepticism, distrust, and fear stir the soul of a grudge girl until she finds herself friendless. Not that people choose not to befriend her, but she chooses to self-protect rather than risk. It becomes her undoing because the battles she chooses are silent—fought between her own two ears—and she always loses. She loses because she doesn’t risk relationally—admitting there may be some truth in the offender’s words or admitting it’s not at all about her and the offender is speaking from their own heart wound.

It’s the heart that matters. God said it to Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1Sam. 16:7 NIV) You see, even when insults are hurled in our direction, we need to pause and look beyond the words to the heart of our offender. What’s the offender’s story? What’s their heart wound? What’s our story and our heart wound? Did what she say strike me in my own wound?

Looking beyond words to the heart of our offender (and ourselves) takes courage and Holy Spirit power. Jesus set the example on the cross:

When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1Peter 2:23NIV)

We may never know our offender’s story, but we can ask God to give us His eyes and His heart to see them as He does. When we view others (and ourselves) through God-lenses our hearts soften and forgiveness becomes possible. Jesus gave us, not only the courage, but the power to withhold grudges:

He himself [Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness… (1Peter 2:24 NIV)

Jesus came so that we might be free from everything that binds us—whether our past or our present, ourselves or an offender—no matter the extent or complication of our circumstances. We don’t have to hold grudges any longer. We can surrender that urge and ask for Jesus’ compassionate heart to answer softly and wisely. But, we must humbly surrender ourselves to Jesus. When Jesus heals our hearts we can look beyond words and love wholeheartedly.

Prayer: Oh, Jesus, draw us close and heal our wounded hearts. Give us your eyes to see ourselves and others as you see them. May we draw upon the power of your cross to let go of our slow-to-forgive spirits and urges to hold grudges. Soften our hearts and give us your compassion for our offenders. Amen.

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