Target Point, Vol. 9 of 31
Today's Verse/Thought: Tears in the Desert
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
Many years ago, I came to a juncture in my life where I knew my SPIRITUAL GROWTH was being hindered. I lived with SUSTAINED ANGER and held onto bitterness and unforgiveness toward my father, who was never there for me. One day, in despair, I found myself driving out toward the desert in California where I was living at the time. As I drove, I knew the Lord was speaking to me that I needed to face the emotional hurt I had experienced, and that I needed to let it go and forgive my Dad (who, in fact, was no longer living.) Overwhelmed with God's love and mercy, I poured out my heart to Him. With much weeping, I released the pain and hurt in my honest and direct (Italian) fashion. In that painful moment, God came and healed my heart! He restored my relationship with Him.
Do you have difficulty with your prayer life? Is your spiritual growth hindered? Do you find it difficult to love God while hating someone who has hurt you? Sustained anger often comes from bitterness held onto or simply unforgiveness. It bubbles below the surface as internalized or repressed anger. It denies emotional hurt. Gordon Mc Donald, in his book, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, says: Spiritual passion can not co-exist with resentments-harboring resentment hinders spiritual growth and effectiveness.
Ask yourself the following questions: Have you been wronged by a parent or a loved on? Has your boss or a co-worker mistreated you? Were you recently passed up for a promotion? Have you been bruised lately by verbal assault? If you answer Yes to any one of these questions, or if you are able to think of any other situation that has caused you to harbor any resentment at all, God has given you a command in our above scripture. To be really direct, basically God is saying, Don't come near me till you forgive. Now it's up to you whether or not you CHOOSE to follow that command and TAKE DECISIVE ACTION. As you forgive freely, you will wipe clean the slate of your soul, and you will be set free!
The forgiveness you give may not always be in direct communication with the offender. Sometimes the offending individual is unaware that they have offended you, or perhaps they are no longer living. Often the forgiving action will need to be just between you and the Lord. And finally, sometimes, it's helpful to write out a letter to that individual and then, once written, and submitted to the Lord, rip it up or burn it as an act of finality.
Tomorrow In TargetPoint:
The Brain Game