Thursday, July 5, 2012

Instead, he had faith in God…..

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done.  Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said.

 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me.  May it not be counted against them.   But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear.  And he rescued me from certain death.   

 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom.  All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.”   2 Tim. 4:14-18 NLT

You’ll notice that Paul does not elaborate on what Alexander did to him. He simply relates the experience as a warning to Timothy and then quickly moves on to other matters. There is no nursing or rehearsing of the evil deed on Paul’s part. There is no hint of bitterness or resentment in his heart.

One of the surest signs that a hurt has turned to bitterness and resentment is that we keep reviewing in our mind and rehashing it in our conversation the wrong we have suffered.  We soon take ownership of the hurt and become addicted to the story for pity.

The effects of hate and bitterness are deadly. They are like acid. They do more damage in the vessel that stores it than the object they are poured on. Physically they increase your blood pressure...emotionally they contribute to depression...spiritually they hinder worship and prayer...and socially they make you unpleasant to be around.

Carrying a grudge is damaging to us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is the ultimate frustration because it leaves you with more pain than you had in the first place. If you do not forgive those who wrong you, then you allow them to hurt you more than once, many allow this person to make the pain a lifetime of hurt and bitterness.

The only way to heal the pain of a past hurt is to forgive the person who hurt you.  Why is forgiveness so important?  When you release the wrongdoer from the’s like cutting a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free -- yourself.  And you will find it heals your memory as you change your perspective.

It is the only way to break the cycle of blame and pain in a relationship.  As long as we don’t forgive, the cycle goes on and on.   Forgiveness breaks that cycle...even though it does not settle all the questions about blame...and justice...and fairness.

So when others hurt you don’t allow their wrong to put in you a root of bitterness and resentment.  Forgive the one who hurt you so you can heal and be whole again.  Forgiveness allows the relationships to start over.

You see, in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith for all of us.  By forgiving.....we leave it to God to settle issues of fairness…..we defer to Him the scales of justice.  If we try to get even -- we are playing God.

But let me tell you that it’s easier said than done.

I think one of the greatest examples of this is found in the life of Joseph. When he was 17 years old he was sold into slavery by his brothers. The slave traders who bought him carried him into Egypt where he became the property of Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guard.

But God prospered him and in time he rose to such great prominence that he was second in authority only to the Pharaoh. When years of famine came to that part of the world, his brothers traveled to Egypt to buy grain.

When Joseph recognized them and revealed himself to them they were afraid of him. They were sure he would repay them for what they had done to him. But Joseph convinced them he was not after revenge and persuaded them to move their father and all their families to Egypt to escape the great famine.

The person who tries to repay evil for evil...and wrong for wrong --whether by withholding forgiveness or seeking some way to get even -- is consciously or unconsciously playing God. Paul...had such an absolute confidence in the justice and fairness of God that he was willing to leave the hurts of life in God’s hands. That’s what we should do.

 Jesus Himself is our everlasting example.

Read what Peter wrote about Jesus in 1 Peter 2:22-23 (CEV):

Christ did not sin
or ever tell a lie.
 Although he was abused,
he never tried to get even.
And when he suffered,
he made no threats.
Instead, he had faith in God,
who judges fairly.”

That is the example Jesus set for us and that should be our way, also.

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