There are times when people say things and I wonder what they were thinking. Did I hear them correctly? Were they joking or serious? They have just offended me and they have no clue. And then, I wonder if they care. Maybe they’ll blow it off saying it’s just a joke and I’m too serious anyway.
The truth is sometimes people do say things and they have no idea that it bothers us. They don’t understand our past hurts, habits or experiences, and they don’t need to. They didn’t mean to upset us and yet we think they now owe us big time for hurting us so badly. We react quickly and forcefully; sometimes directly and other times behind their back. We vent to someone else or to the world through social media.
It’s also true that sometimes people push our buttons on purpose. Do you know anyone who likes to argue? There is something about the battle of words that they relish. Proverbs is full of words that describe people who like to “stir up conflict”. Words such as perverse, harsh, greedy, mocker, and hot-tempered all describe people who intentionally cause conflict.
There are also descriptions of those who have the opposite demeanor. Words like love, gentle, patient, and wise all describe the person who guards his tongue while he settles and calms disputes. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul says to be kind and tender-hearted with each other. When we are patient, we can step back from the situation and be objective. Does this person know my past? Do they have any reason to hurt me? What did they really mean?
And then we are to forgive.
Sometimes we may need to talk to the person about the incident, but often the issue dies out when we let it go. Our reaction to others words can intensify the conflict or calm a quarrel. If we decide to keep the issue going, we should realize that we may then fall into the “stir up conflict” category and that is not God’s way.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
To forgive is to forget. Forgiving is not the same as reconciling and it’s not the same as trusting. But forgiving is freedom. If you say you forgive and don’t forget, you remember and replay the incident in your own mind and it keeps you a prisoner to pain and anger.
Jesus Christ died for you. If you’ve put your trust in Him, God does not continue to remind you of who you use to be. He doesn’t go around with a check list waiting for you mess up again. God forgives and forgets your sins. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He’s removed our transgressions from us.
Something to Consider…
Is there someone in your life – at home, work or school, who continues to offend you? Seek God’s wisdom in how to handle your words and actions in order to defuse the situation.
Is there someone you bear a grudge against and won’t forgive? Jesus came to set the captives free. Don’t choose to be a prisoner. Allow God to heal your heart and your hurt. Forgive as He has forgiven.