“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).”
I was visiting a friend recently whom I had not seen in about 15 years. I was in his town for a business meeting.
As I enjoyed the hospitality he and his wife offered me the evening after the meeting, I related to him my experience. I told him about the condescending treatment I had received from other people attending that meeting.
My friend, who had heard other similar stories from me as we caught up, replied,”And it could only happen to you.” My buddy’s remark was mainly meant to be a humorous statement about how it seems I am a target for such maltreatment.
However, the next morning, as I was having my quiet time, I reflected on his comment. Even at the time he made it, and even more so on this morning, I received a bit of an ephiphany.
The “it could only happen to you” remark could have been a sarcastic utterance which was meant to relay to me that I was being overly sensitive to people’s slights. As I thought about this, it occurred to me that this was indeed the case.
As I sat in the comfort of the bedroom provided by my hosts, I began to review a list of all the people who had “done me dirt” and their offenses. It was a pretty long list.
I determined that I was indeed a walking grievance. This was confirmed even more when I read that morning’s devotional from “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman. The section of the piece applicable to my dilemma reads:
How much grace it requires to bear a misunderstanding rightly, and to receive an unkind judgment in holy sweetness! Nothing tests the Christian character more than to have some evil thing said about him. This is the file that soon proves whether we are electro-plate or solid gold. If we could only know the blessings that lie hidden in our trials we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, “Let him curse; . . . it may be . . . that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.” Some people get easily turned aside from the grandeur of their life-work by pursuing their own grievances and enemies, until their life gets turned into one little petty whirl of warfare.
As I felt that God was convicting me of a sinful attitude, I said to Him,”Ok. What do I do about it?”
The answer was a still small voice (not audible) of a kind Elijah experienced in his interactions with the Lord (I Kings 19:11-13. The prompting, which I deemed to be from the Holy Spirit. said, “Forgive.”
At breakfast I told my friend about how his comment had helped discern that I was a “walking grievance.” I had not told him about God’s response to this insight, but my pal unwittingly confirmed it when he said,”You have a lot of people to forgive.”
Jesus told his disciples,”My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you (John 15:12).” I have been thinking of this verse for a long time because in context Jesus says that if we obey Him, He will confide in us and be our friends.
As I really want to be Jesus’s friend, I have determined that if I was to be really intimate with Him I needed to love others as He has loved me. I have known for a long time that this is a tall order.
If anyone has a reason to be a walking grievance, it is Jesus. Over my life I have snubbed Him, disobeyed Him, yelled at Him, been angry with Him and totally misunderstood Him. I have been a rotten friend.
Yet, Jesus has kept on loving me. He has not given up on me or abandoned me.
Thus, as a result of my illumination at my friend’s house, I have concluded that I need to set aside all the hurts and pain caused by others in my life. To do this, I need to forgive.
I have to rid myself of my resentments against others in this way. I have to tell my walking grievances to take a hike!