The other day, I learned of some negative, unwarranted, and inaccurate comments spoken about someone I care deeply for. And the more I thought about the injustice of the situation, the more upset I became. So I turned to God in prayer, asking Him to take away my negative emotions–emotions that were souring my stomach and causing my muscles to clench–and to replace these emotions with love, joy, peace, and patience–with grace.
But no matter how hard and long I prayed, my frustration refused to still.
Until I prayed for the “offender.” The moment I spoke the first words of blessing and intercession, peace flooded through me. And while I was yet praying, the words Jesus spoke as He hung on the cross came to mind: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Father forgive them, because they don’t realize what they are doing. Because apart from You, they are incapable of doing better.
Because once, I, too, was just like them, full of anger, of bitterness, of malice. As the oft quote phrase goes, “But by the grace of God, there goes I.”
Ephesians 2:1-3a “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature” (NLT).
Let’s talk about this. When dealing with others, especially those who may be difficult to love, it’s easy to keep our focus on the surface–the words and actions–losing sight of the root–the spiritual condition that is in desperate need of a Savior. It helps when we pause to remember, we–each one of us–were once like them, giving in to our sinful natures and selfish desires. In fact, if not for God’s grace, that is exactly where we would be, slipping further and further into selfishness and isolation. But God handed us a rope–a life vest–in His Son, and now He longs for us to do the same, to be instruments of His life-giving, life-transforming grace. But we can’t point the hurting to God if we’re too busy dwelling on their faults. Instead, we need to keep our eyes ever on the Savior, their Creator, who loves them to their very core. Loved them so much, in fact, He surrendered His life to save them and draw them to Himself.
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Excellent reminder, Jennifer. Always need to keep our eyes on Him.
Thanks, Carole, and amen!
Beautifully written, Jennifer. I, too, had to learn that it’s impossible to pray and resent, even hate, in the same breath. God rewards our obedience with peace and the names of the ones who hurt us are being spoken into His very throne room of grace. Thanks for a beautiful post and God Bless.
Gracefully put, Nancy! And that is so true! And isn’t it humbling to remember that Christ experienced betrayal, mocking, rejection, and in the midst of it, prayed for those who hurt Him?
“Until I prayed for the “offender.” The moment I spoke the first words of blessing and intercession, peace flooded through me…”
I’ve learned that this is the key to genuine forgiveness; praying for the “offender” is really difficult at first, but gets easier over time.
Good post, Jennifer!