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PASTORS' DAILY DEVOTIONAL
Dec
04

Loving the Offender

John Tilton

Scripture
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:30-32)
Observation
It's very soul searching to realize that our thoughts, relationships and actions towards others would grieve the Holy Spirit of God. One would think that bitterness, wrath, anger and defamation would come from a person feeling wronged by another and thus one's negative feelings are justified. These scriptures are a great reminder that our negative and wrathful thoughts and actions towards others do in fact grieve God because He loves all His children and expects His children to love one another ... affirmed by the second greatest commandment of loving thy neighbor. So what should we do when someone wrongs us? Isn't it justifiable to defend ourselves? Three words in verse 32 are the key ... kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. I would recommend processing these three words in reverse ... forgive first with the heart of Jesus, which will allow us to extend kindness, all three being attributes of God in Christ. If we can acknowledge what Christ did on the cross, then perhaps we can suppress our hurt, pride and vengefulness to forgive and extend the heart of Jesus through kindness, including praying for those who hurt or offend us.
Application
I find that it's not if but when someone will inadvertently hurt me because of self-centeredness or lack of thought or consideration. At other times it may be intentional and direct. Even other times it may be against those we love. These scriptures help me to release these offenses to God and cling to His promises and attributes so that I am able to forgive with the heart of Jesus and thus be kind to those who offend my loved ones, or me even praying for the offender. The thought of unfairness goes through my mind, however, it's not about fairness but rather what we will do in these challenging times in an effort to learn and grow in character. I've found that the inability to follow the attributes of Christ and therefore hold grudges actually kills my spirit and joy, therefore further dragging me down to the pitiful ways of the enemy robbing me further. Thus, forgiveness protects me from further hurt, discouragement and disappointment often then being manifested then as wrath, anger talking stink and sometimes "snapping." When on the cross, Jesus prayed for His offenders by asking His Father to forgive them for they know not what they do.
Prayer
Lord, may I have the hurt and words of Jesus, help me to forgive those who offend my family or me for they know not what they do. Then, may I be able to love as you commanded us to love thy neighbor and be free from the attributes of the enemy, but victorious in the attributes of the Savior.

Devotions for December 04

Ephesians 1,2,3,4

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