II Corinthians 2:11…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Satan wants to get us to embrace offense, to get us hurt and offended to the point where we are trapped in bitterness and unforgiveness. The Bible says that you and I are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, Colossians 3:13. I wonder why that was stated in the form of a command. Could it be because God is looking out for us? I think so. God knows forgiveness is critical because it keeps the ground of our hearts soft and responsive towards God and other people.
If we forgive, we keep the ground of our hearts soft and responsive towards God and others. If we don’t, we allow roots of bitterness to take place in our hearts. Bitterness and love are complete opposites. We can’t love God and others correctly with un-forgiveness in our hearts.
When someone hurts us, when they “vaguebook” about us on Facebook, when they talk poorly of us behind our back, when they use us for personal gain, when someone sabotages something we think is rightfully ours, when someone deceives us or lies about us, what would happen IF we would get alone with God first? If we would pour out our hurts and anger, our disappointment and frustration before Him FIRST and immediately then asked Him for help to love and forgive the person who hurt us? How would that change the way we recover from those painful moments? What if we committed ourselves to God in those moments of personal pain and said, “God, can you do anything with this? Can you use my pain? Can you grow me up in Jesus? Can you give me a testimony? Can you turn this around?” Could we commit every moment of offense to Jesus WHEN it happens? Hear me…God will always do the right thing on our behalf and on the behalf of the person who hurt us. We can expect Him to deal with both of us justly.
I Peter 2:21-23 says, 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
We have a choice regarding how we will handle offense. One way leads to being trapped in our pain by the devil, and the other leads to victory. We have to get to the place where we trust God and not the flesh; where we live by faith and not our feelings. What if there is a victory for you to win that could impact other people for their benefit that is contingent on you being able to forgive?
“Although you may have a reason to be offended, as a believer you don’t have a good reason to hold a grudge.” Grudge-holding isn’t Jesus-like, and isn’t good for us. It short-circuits what God wants to do in and through us.
People can take a lot from us, but there are two things they can never take away:
- Our choice to trust God in the midst of every circumstance
- Our choice to not carry offense
You can absolutely follow God and do what is right and still be hurt by people. How did Joseph view his brothers? How do we view people who hurt us? “If it wasn’t for so and so, I would have gotten the promotion.” “If it wasn’t for the circumstances into which I was born, I would have what I always dreamed of.” “If it wasn’t for so and so, I would be with that guy and not her.” “If it wasn’t for so and so I wouldn’t be in the financial mess I am in.” “If it wasn’t for so and so, I would still _________________.”
In the end it isn’t up to anyone else or their influence when God has purposed something in our lives, He will bring it to pass. He opens doors no man can shut (Rev. 3:8). No person can thwart the will of God for your life except you!
I Peter 1:6-7: In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
What if, when you are hurt by someone’s words or actions, you not only take it to Jesus so that bitterness doesn’t set in, and what if you not only trust God to make things right at some point, but what if you also view it as an opportunity to be refined and to be made ready for a wonderful future that God has waiting for you?
Take a moment to review the people pains in your life. Go to that close relationship whether it was with family or friends. Did you let God work it all out in your life and in your heart or is there some extra stuff in your heart that has been on the journey with you? Have you looked back on your life and said, “If only so and so hadn’t ______” I would be in a different place today and you have held them responsible for your lot in life rather than trusted God to continue to lead you forward? Are you stuck in the past through unforgiveness? Are you still holding out hope with your bitterness that one day that person who hurt you will know just had bad they wronged you?
I’m not saying we should never have a conversation or express our hurt. That would be the first and best thing to do, shortly after things go sideways. That is the smartest thing to do. That is the Christian thing to do. If we did that every time we were hurt, and we sought to have a God-honoring conversation with the person we would all live with better blood pressure numbers, now wouldn’t we? But that isn’t typically how we roll.
If we trust God to deal with every wrong, we can forgive people and let Him handle them. The longer we hold on to un-forgiveness, the more we water the root of bitterness. As bitterness is watered, it increases in depth and strength, and bitterness changes us and not for the better. The sooner we forgive, perhaps the easier it is to forgive. The longer we hold on to anger, the harder it is to let it go. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. In other words, we are to deal with it as quickly as possible. Un-forgiveness is a Satanic trap to keep us imprisoned to our pain. Today is the day to walk free. Today is the day to forgive.
****Some message concepts received from the book, “The Bait of Satan,” by John Bevere