“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark [11:25] NIV)
Yesterday, the love of my life pierced my heart with a caustic remark that left me wincing. Have you ever been there?
First, I retreated into the comfort of a pity party. Then the tears came. After the box of tissues ran out, I sank to thoughts of how my value was diminished. I rehearsed my own bitter retorts. Seeking sympathy, I drew others in to hear my tale of woe. After all a good party needs guests, right?
The next time I looked into his eyes, I searched for an authentic apology. I wanted him to be really sorry for the pain he inflicted. He asked for my forgiveness. I weakly agreed, but secretly continued to embrace offense, my companion. Releasing my companion meant I had to forgive—fully. I just couldn’t open my tight-fisted grip on offense because it was my power play.
And, I know better!
I’ve learned, over the years, about the characteristics of offense:
- Offense is a fickle companion. One minute, it is a date to the pity party who whispers all the things you want to hear. The next minute, it laughs at you because you are miserable, drowning in the aftermath of unforgiveness.
- Offense is bacteria in a petri dish. It starts out as a small little speck. When incubated in the darkness of self-pity and revenge, it grows. Add gossip, and the evil culture thrives.
- Offense is a wall builder. It gains strength and height as we dwell on the hurt. Pride is the mortar that cements the walls together. The walls feel insurmountable.
What’s the Cure? Thankfulness
Because thankfulness grows in the Light, it’s important to pray—immediately. Pray for the person who offended. Pray for your heart to be changed by God’s power. Pray for the grace to forgive regardless of the offender’s heart. Pray that the walls of offense will be razed. Pray that a loving bond will be renewed.
“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians [5:20]-21)
I’ve found that when I start praying for the person who offended me, I can be thankful for the gifts God instilled in them. I’m drawn to pray for the struggles they are going through. (Even though I may not know what they are, God does.) I long to pray for favor in their lives. I’m delighted to bring them to God to pray for His blessings on them.
As I pray my heart is softened. My wound is now in the hands of the Great Physician. I’m able to forgive because it is the gift God gives me.
Pursue forgiveness—it’s a strong cornerstone!