Faith / Health / Life Lessons / Spiritual Bondage

At Arms Length

Surrender is an easy word to talk about;  but when it comes to matters of the heart, it can be easier said than done.  I have always been an individual with deep-seated convictions, likes and dislikes.

The more I mature, the more I can see how judgmental I’ve been over the years;  often, deciding to like or dislike a person based almost solely on their  personal preferences and even hobbies:  like football, politics, how they look, dress or even what side of the “tracks” they grew up on.  I know, it’s an embarrassing confession.  But the truth is, it happens.  It happens to all of us whether we are conscious of it or not.

But even as challenging as it may be to overcome my quirks and judge-mentalism, it’s even harder to overcome my stubborn resistance when it comes to forgiveness.   Oh, I know all the right things to “do”.

I go to Jesus with my hurts and pains, explaining to Him what has happened.  Usually, this entails me trying to get The Lord to “side” with me and take up my grievances.  However, I try and hand over the hurt into His hands and forgive the person.  The problem is:   I usually make sure He knows that even though I have “forgiven”,I will have to keep that person at Arms Length;  I mean I wouldn’t be foolish enough to “trust” this person NOT to hurt me again, right?  Well, for a long time I thought this seemed reasonable.  A great way to forgive but NOT to have to face the person.  Unfortunately, for my prides sake, I heard a sermon a few days after I gave my Arms Length speech to Jesus.

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You see, by keeping the person at Arms Length, I was really saying “I forgive you – but not really”.   Sitting here recollecting, I remember the famous discourse between Jesus and Peter, his disciple:  “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times,”  (Matthew 18:21-22)

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.   As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold  was brought to him.   Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)

 

 

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You see, I needed this lesson.  I needed to be reminded of how much Jesus has forgiven me on the Cross at Calvary.  Every sin, every hateful, greedy, proud thought, every arrogant disrespectful thing I’ve ever done and said to hurt others……..basically, a lot.  I believe this is the point about where healing starts.  I often think of  a statement I heard years ago that has stuck with me.

When we are angry with someone, it’s as if we pour them a cup of poison to drink.  The reality is though, that WE are the ones who end up drinking it.  Anger left unresolved ends up hurting us.  I have heard of studies that link unexpressed anger with cancer and other disorders.  I believe that “…… with God all things are possible”, (Matthew 19:26), even reconciliation.  I am going to pray for strength so that I will be able to “extend the olive branch” the next time I face a situation that deals with forgiveness, true forgiveness.  What about you, won’t you join me?