Greetings dear ones,
Today’s teaching centers on relationships – specifically, healing relationships that are wounded or broken. Dear friends, God does not want us to live in strife! God wants us to live in peaceful fellowship with one another. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Apostle Paul told the people to “encourage one another and build one another up.” This can be challenging when we’re angry at someone, but we must set aside our anger and follow God’s teaching if we want to have the perfect peace that Jesus promised (John 14:27).
Now think about your relationships and the fact that, as believers, Jesus is always with us. Would you want Jesus to be see family squabbles, marital discord, arguments, or disagreements? Of course not. But it’s amazing how many people show up to church on Sunday with anger, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness in their hearts. This is no different than having an argument in front of our Lord and Savior!
1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” I want to emphasize the words, “finally” and “all of you.” These are strong words that Peter used to convey a powerful message. He didn’t simply say, “If you feel like it, some of you might want to try being nicer to one another.” No, he was quite emphatic and directive here. He said “all of you”; that means you and me. And he said, “Finally,” which is another very strong word. Personally, I like the Merriam-Webster definitions of “finally” and how they relate very well to this scripture: (1) “Not to be altered or undone” and (2) "being the last in a series, process, or progress." I interpret this to mean that we are to remain steadfast – to the end – in our love and compassion for one another.
The Bible is also very clear about the importance of forgiveness. There are many, many scriptures that teach us why we must learn to forgive, not only others, but ourselves. To live in unforgivness is sin. This is clearly communicated in Leviticus 19:17-18: “Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the Lord.”
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer, in which we pray, "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." But Jesus also added a word of warning, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt. 6:14,15).
Friends, strife is just not worth the price we pay in our spiritual, mental, and physical health. While you may think that your anger is justified (and it very well may be), remember that we are to rise above that which is petty and not pleasing to God. We are to be Christ-like in our behavior – and that means treating other people the way Jesus would treat them.
If you’re struggling in this area, I encourage you to pray this prayer for strength, guidance, and healing:
Dear Father, Today I come before you with a heart that is burdened with anger, unforgiveness, and resentment. I am suffering from a damaged relationship that I know only You can mend. I know that my anger is displeasing to You, and for that I am truly sorry. As I ask for your forgiveness, I also ask that You help me to forgive those who have hurt me, and to understand that their actions likely came from their own place of hurt, pain, and grief. Help me to show compassion, empathy, and love as You heal my own heart and bring me closer to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
As you continue to pray this prayer, see the humanity and preciousness in the people with whom you’re angry. And remember, none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. As you come to see the beautiful imperfections in yourself and others, I pray that you will experience a new sense of freedom – freedom to love and forgive unconditionally, just the way that our Heavenly Father loves and forgives us.
We love you so very much. Until next time, be well and be blessed.