By Andrea Slawson
I’m going to let you in on a secret: being a Christian leader is hard. You’re called to influence those around you for the sake of Christ? This is a tall order. Know what else is hard to do? Forgive. It’s hard because sometimes forgiveness is attached to confrontation. These situations are especially hard for those who are introverts at heart. Yet, when God tugs at my heart, I cannot help but obey because I love Him and I love to please Him. Although leadership and forgiveness are difficult tasks in our own strength, thankfully His Spirit enables us to obey.
I am an introvert, yet God has gifted me with the ability to encourage. Those two traits feel extremely opposite in my soul, but again, I obey. Obedience, this time, leads to telling the truth about myself even when it is hard for me. Because maybe, just maybe it will help others. So, here I go, prayerfully leading by example.
NOT JUST SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN
I have a relationship in my life that is hard—really hard. Hard like concrete encased in titanium hard. This relationship, also happens to be with a family member, which makes that outer covering of titanium even more impenetrable. Recently, this person and I were having another bad time. Words were exchanged. Unfriending and blocking were involved. I really wanted to throw my hands up and just quit! It seems like no matter what I do or say, it is never enough. It’s always wrong. Nothing is ever good enough. Even when I feel God has prompted me to do what needs to be done, nope not good enough. Over and over I am hurt by this relationship and its lack of healing.
I was talking through my hurt with a close friend and this is how our conversation went:
“It hurts too bad, it’s never going to get better, why do I have to keep doing this?”
“I’m sorry.” She’s a friend of many words.
Dripping in sarcasm, “Seriously, Jesus said 70×7. That’s 490. 1 I’m pretty sure I’m at 489, so one more time and I get to be DONE. Woo Hoo!”
Giggling, “Ummm, that’s not how that works.”
“What?! God’s a God of absolutes! Math is an absolute! 490.”
Like me, do you try to apply human logic to God? Has it ever worked?
Ever felt like this? Want to just toss a relationship away because it’s too hard? Too messy? It hurts too much?
What if God said that about us? Because, I don’t know about you, but I can be hard and very messy.
FORGIVE LIKE JESUS DID (& STILL DOES)
So, what do we do with these hard, seemingly impossible relationships in life? We have to look to Jesus for our example. Half of the people he came into contact with were hard relationships. I mean really, one of his closest friends turned on him. And when was the last time someone wanted to kill you? Now those were tough relationships.
Forgiveness is the right thing to do though, right? Right. Even when it’s hard and messy and you have to do it over and over. Even when you don’t want to. And even when it hurts.
In Luke 6:27-28 Jesus says,
Say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Emphasis added.)
See all that action? That’s for the forgiver!
BLESS LIKE JESUS DID (& STILL DOES)
Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.” – Romans 12:14
But what about me you say? Well, in Matthew 5:7 Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
And in Matthew 6:14 He says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Forgiveness is hard. That’s why it’s a command. It goes against our flesh. That’s why the command comes with the condition.
When I forgive the person who has sinned against me, God forgives me for my own sin and heals me. That part is for me!
But what about the person I’m forgiving? That is where I come in. My petitions to God on behalf of that person will bring peace and truth to them.
Forgiving sets me free, blessing my enemy sets them free.
This relationship I have may always be hard and may always require my forgiveness. For God, I am willing to do this. If pleasing God is the only good thing that comes from this relationship, I have come to be content with that.
It still saddens me that we, as God’s children, cannot seem to get over ourselves and think more of our neighbor. Myself included. But, until the day when I get to stand in God’s presence with this person and finally be reconciled, I will do what God needs me to do for and with this relationship. I will forgive and I will love through the hurt.
Do you probably have a hard relationship in your life that you’re thinking of right now? What will you do with it?