Don’t be Fooled

Recently heard a story about a family that is basically falling apart. No,  more like being ripped apart.  I know…I know…this could be YOUR family, but in this case – it’s not.  FYI – It doesn’t involve any of my friends.  It broke my heart as I sat and listened to how it all began – how hurt feelings and words of anger between two people made a ripple effect throughout the family, and now this loving family has turned into a bunch of unforgiving hearts that are filled with nothing but anger, sadness and bitterness.  Ugh.

A friend told me a couple weeks ago about this book she was reading – The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere.  Very rarely do I run out and purchase a book, but after we had lunch that day, I did. I’m only on the second chapter, but I’m telling you what – it’s something that everyone should read. It’s filled with words of wisdom and scripture to shed light on how we are trapped by Satan’s deceitfulness in trying times as mentioned above.

One thing that the author mentioned  really spoke to me –  “Don’t be fooled! You WILL encounter offense, and it’s up to you how it will affect your relationship with God. YOUR  response will determine your future. If offense is handled correctly, YOU WILL BECOME STRONGER RATHER THAN BITTER.” (Caps are my choice, not his.)

I’ve experienced those daggers to the heart and  I hate those times. I don’t want to admit it, but I’ve been the one to say and do things that have hurt those I love, too. I’ve witnessed relationships end – even in the church.  Hurtful, defensive words are exchanged, and then all of a sudden everyone becomes consumed with it all.  Everything changes – and NOBODY likes it. Been there?

I think that forgiving someone has to be one of the most challenging things we have to do in this life. There are so many things that get in the way and prevent us from doing so – selfishness, jealousy, pride,  and did I mention selfishness? It’s tough, I know, to let something go when you don’t think that person deserves it. That’s when  I have to remind myself about God’s grace. He set the example; am I willing to follow it?

No matter what your situation is, God makes it clear that he wants us to forgive.  You may think that no one could possibly understand how you feel or what you’ve been through. Perhaps you’re right –  to a point.  Please remember, there is ONE who knows exactly how you feel and what you’ve been through, and he has plenty to say about it….

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

“Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:8-9

I will never forget the day when I heard the story behind the song “Forgiveness”, by Matthew West. His song is based on a true story about a mom, Renee Napier, whose daughter  was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The driver, Eric,  was 24 years-old at the time. Although this mom was devastated due to her loss, she reached out to Eric while he was serving time in prison, and told him that she forgave him. Can you imagine? Does THAT not seem like the impossible? That was only the beginning. Four years later, she and her family went to the courts to request that this young man’s sentence be cut in half. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 32:1.

 Knowing the story behind this song brings tears to my eyes….. It not only brought healing to Renee and her family, but also provided a second chance for Eric. Win/win. What do you need to let go of today?

It’ll clear the bitterness away

It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what its power can do

So let it go and be amazed

By what you see through eyes of grace

The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness…. Matthew West – Forgiveness

 

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