Here are some notes from “Just As….”, part of the “Road to Recovery” series given yesterday at The Fountain.
Followers of Jesus have been called to exhibit a higher standard of relational living. We don’t do relationships the same way society and culture does.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:15 NIV)
An example is a pattern – something to be imitated. If we would embrace the invitation to higher relational living and really grasp the significance of what Jesus did for us, it would have a huge ripple effect in all of our relationships.
Unfortunately there are things that happen to us that cause relational strain. Everyone has a story of instances where we have been wronged by others and that can cause stuff to lodge in our hearts as a result. Paul addresses this and gives us a solution that falls in alignment with what Jesus said to us about our higher relational standard.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31 NIV)
Bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander are all things that can lodge in our hearts as a result of being hurt and wronged by others. What’s your story?
A broken home as a child that robbed you of a family?
An incident where you became the victim of someone else’s evil agenda?
A failed marriage that stole from you the joy of spending your life with the person you first fell in love with?
A business partner who cheated you out of your fair share of the company?
A church member who slandered your name because they didn’t have al the facts?
The list is endless and when these things lodge in your heart, it can have tremendous effect on your life when it comes to your relationships. Paul’s call to “get rid” of that stuff can sound insensitive at just a casual reading of this verse, but he doesn’t leave us hanging without a practical application of how to do this.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)
“Compassionate” literally means “to have strong bowels” (nice imagery, Paul). In other words, this kind of relational vitality requires some intestinal fortitude, some guts, to actually get rid of the stuff in our lives that has relationally dampened us and move toward the higher relational calling that we have in Jesus.
The key is forgiving those who have wronged us….JUST AS…. (in the same manner and to the same degree) in Christ God forgave us.
The whole idea of forgiveness revolves around a debt. You owe me. You stole from me a family, a marriage, a business, a life of innocence and purity, etc…. and you owe me. Forgiveness is about canceling a debt and it’s only to the degree that we understand God’s forgiveness of us and the cancellation of that sin debt that we can really become motivated to walk in a lifestyle of forgiveness.
For some, the people who hurt them in the past are keeping them bound up in the present and hindered from going into their future. Why would we allow that to happen? We are called to a higher standard of relationship in Jesus.
So what’s our application?
1. Identify those who hurt us
2. Determine what they owe (what’s the debt?)
3. Decide to cancel the debt
Forgiveness is a decision. What will we decide? Hold the bitterness, anger, etc… in our heart and allow it to keep us bound? Or will we get rid of it and embrace the call to a higher relational life that is marked by forgiveness….JUST AS….