Often times we judge ourselves by our best intentions while judging others by what they do or don't do. For example,
- When you get angry it's because you're ill-tempered … It just happens that my nerves are bothering me.
- When you don't like someone it's because you're prejudiced … I just happen to be a good judge of human nature.
- When you compliment people it's because you use flattery to get your way … I only encourage people.
- When you take a long time to do a job it's because you're unbearably slow and pokey … I take a long time because I believe in quality workmanship.
- When you spend your paycheck in 24 hours, it's because you're a spendthrift … When I do, it's because I'm generous.
- When you stay in bed until 11 a.m., it's because you're a lazy good-for-nothing … When I stay in bed a little longer, it's because I'm totally exhausted.
Can you see how easy it would be to offend one another?
Two weeks ago we heard about an extreme case of an unresolved offense. His killings were not done in a fit of rage but rather were a carefully planned out act. After killing two; he prepared videos, letters, and reloaded his weapons. Our hearts grieve the lives lost. As we hear the details of his life we learned that in high school he was made fun of, excluded, and was a loner. What was happening in him during these years? Personal offenses were growing and self justification of why this needed to happen.
Hopefully no one that offended will ever do this again. I assume most would never do this even in a fit of rage. We don't shoot others with guns, right, but do we ever shoot others with our mouth? Do we ever build walls of protection around ourselves to prevent anyone else from possibly hurting us? Do we ever harbor personal offenses that result in bitterness, resentment, and unresolved anger and find it impacting current relationships?
There is a parable Jesus shared in the Gospel of Matthew about this subject. There was a servant who owed his master a great deal of money – the actual value in today's world was around $4 billion dollars.
The master wanted his money back and obviously the servant couldn't pay it. The master was ready to strip him of everything he had; but yet when the servant begged for more time, the master was moved with compassion. He did the most amazing thing, he forgave him his debts – INCREDIBLE!
The story goes on to say the servant went, anyways, to those who owed him money. Their debts were a tiny fraction of what he had owed. The hypocrisy is that the servant not only made them repay it – if they didn't he got aggressive and threw them into prison until they could repay (good luck getting it back).
The story ends with the master finding out. This time mercy and grace was replaced with justice. The man was thrown into prison and made to pay all he owed back.
Jesus in another parable makes his point so clearly. "So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Matthew 18:35, NKJV).
We have a debt we couldn't pay – that is sin. The debt is huge. Jesus gave his life that we could be forgiven of sin. If we confess or agree with God about our sins and allow His leadership – we can find forgiveness. We can have peace with God, hope of heaven, and a different approach towards each other.
Are you battling with relational hurts with spouse, family, or at the workplace? Here are some steps to hopefully help
1. Realize there is a problem within you. Instead of just blaming the other, own your stuff and allow God to minister in you and be the leader of your life.
2. Commit to try and solve the problem – not avoid, alienate, or build walls.
3. Commit in prayer to forgive (or to release) sins.
4. Commit to trying to restore, instead of revenge. "If it is possible (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't), as much as depends on you live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).
5. Go to the person and try to resolve it. It's possible when our attitude is right.
It may not be easy – but restoration and peace are definitely better solutions to "fight" for then walk anger, wrath, resentment, and alienation.