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“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We can’t walk through this life without pain and heartache, even Jesus said so. Sometimes the struggles of life are a result of our own doing, sometimes it is circumstantial, and sometimes we are hurt by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s face it, when we walk into our church buildings week in and week out, we are walking into a melting pot of broken, abused, suffering, prideful, selfish people… people like you and me. We are all broken and in need of the love and forgiveness of Christ. I love the picture of the church being a hospital, don’t you?
Learning how to extend that love and forgiveness when others have hurt us is hard. Sometimes very hard. It can feel impossible. But, remember, we can only love because He first loved us.
We are called to forgive. We are called to love. But what does it look like to forgive those who have hurt us in ways that are beyond comprehension? Their words and their actions have broken our hearts. How can we move past the hurt and brokenness to forgiveness and love for the offender?
Forgiveness is a bit like love. It’s hard. And it’s a choice, not a feeling. We all know that our feelings are not truth tellers. Our feelings tell us lies about ourselves and about who God is. Our feelings will not allow us to love or forgive. We must continually preach the gospel to our own hearts, choose to not trust our feelings but to trust Christ. We must choose to not listen to the lies of the enemy, but the truth of God’s Word. The truth of the matter is, forgiveness is a choice; we simply must choose forgiveness if we want to continue to walk in the light and love of Christ and grow in Him.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
Choosing to love and choosing to forgive involve intentionality and pursuit. We must pursue Jesus, not let our hearts grow bitter. We must pursue God’s Word as a treasure, not allow unforgiveness to build. Setting our hearts on things above and fixing our eyes on Jesus takes intentionality, but it’s the only way to take the focus off of ourselves and put it back on Jesus where it belongs.
And only when we are gazing at Jesus can we begin to choose forgiveness. I’m not saying this makes it easy. I’m saying this makes it possible. Christ in you and Christ in me is the hope of glory. Nothing I can muster up on my own is going to help me to forgive and then love others. Nothing I can complete in 3 easy steps. But, instead, to trust Christ in me. To lean not on my own understanding. To humble my heart before God so that He can do His thing in me. Remember, in Christ we are all new creations! He is doing a new work — He is giving us HIS strength and HIS power and HIS love and forgiveness. In turn, we can go and forgive. Because of Christ, not because of anything we’ve done.
Once we have chosen forgiveness, what then? Now, on to the blessing. We must bless those who curse us. We must choose to bless regardless of our feelings.
SEE ALSO: An Advent Prayer for the Lonely
3 Ways to Bless Those Who Have Hurt Us
1. Take your eyes off of the hurt and the person, put your gaze on Christ.
We can’t keep looking at the hurt and the situation and replaying it over and over in our minds. We must fix our eyes on Jesus. We must dive into His Word. Turn on praise music. Do not dwell on the problem or the feelings you have about the situation. As hard as it is, choose to think on things lovely, noble, true and right.
2. Pray for the person who has hurt you.
There is no better way to bless someone than to intercede for them. Pray for God to bless them, pray for God to grow their love for Him, pray for God to do good things in their lives. Pray, pray, and pray some more. When words don’t come, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you. When you are hurt, mad, and broken, take your brokenness to the cross. Ask Jesus to fill you with His supernatural love and power.
3. Extend grace.
Remember the grace you’ve been shown. Ponder your own life and how you’ve been shown grace upon grace. Now, go and do likewise. What does this look like? Letting the other person off the hook. Showing kindness to the person. Not ignoring the person. Not returning evil for evil. Bestow kindness and grace.
When we don’t forgive, the bitterness and the grudge take ahold of us. We carry the bitterness into every aspect of our lives. We grow weary and begin to die spiritually. I know when we begin to look at it in that way, we can begin to choose forgiveness. Surely not many of us would choose spiritual death and a turning away from Christ.
Turn to Christ, beloved. Turn to Christ and be forgiven so that you can now walk in a life of forgiveness and love for others.
“Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God's Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures.
Publication date: March 3, 2016