On this snowy day, I have just finished reading a novel dealing with abortion and an article dealing with divorce. The whiteness outside reminds me of Isaiah’s words, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” No wonder I have forgiveness on my mind today.
When I think of my counseling years, I remember the deep pain for those involved in both abortion and divorce. When reconciliation doesn’t occur, slipping into anger, resentment, bitterness and judgment come all too easily for us. And when these emotions demand center stage on our heart, we engage in a powerful spiritual battle.
To square off biblically, we must make a choice to put away any and all debilitating baggage. Colossians 3 says, “But now you must rid yourselves of…” Galatians 4 talks about returning to weak and miserable principles and asks, “Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” I Peter 2:11 says, “I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul.” And the writer of Hebrews reminds us of Jesus’ example. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The work, and make no mistake, it is work, of choosing to put away pride, resentment, bitterness, shame, anger, and judgments requires consistency, prayer and dying to self. One thing that helps us in the daily assults involves NOT reciting a litany of personal griefs to others, but taking those hurts to God Himself. As we tell our heartaches to the Lord, we learn to cherish more deeply what it is to be forgiven by God.
After we read the list of “get rid ofs” in Ephesians 4:31, we must think about the depth of forgiveness God graciously granted us. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” A quote from John Piper helps us put this in perspective: “You can go on holding a grudge if your faith simply means you are off the hook. But if faith means standing in awe of being forgiven by God, then you can’t go on holding a grudge. You have fallen in love with mercy. It’s your life.”
As we daily make choices to put away the attitudes that hold us captive, and meditate on the depth of grace that has, through Christ’s shed blood, forgiven us everything, we pray for an increase in trust. God cannot be pleased when we hold to our hurts or judgments. When we do, we really convey that we don’t trust His justice to prevail. Romans 12:19 couldn’t state it more clearly. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” We may want to pound the gavel and insist on our pound of flesh and our timetable, but God plainly tells us to allow room for His wrath. And as that process known as sanctification kneads itself into our soul, we begin to trust that God’s purpose in all the hurt or embarrassment of the situation has been to transform the most difficult, ugliest parts of our life into something for our good and His glory. The griefs from the trials “have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I Peter 1:7