Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
– Ephesians 4:31,32, NKJV
“Why should I apologize to her?” I mumbled under my breath. I was more than a little frustrated.
There are many things I could say about how people–especially in church leadership–have caused me hurt through the years. Whether the hurt was caused by how a leader did something the opposite of love by speaking something from the pulpit that, to me, didn’t seem to match the Word; or whether I saw them do something that was carnal; or whether they did not do something I expected they would, it caused or added to a sense of discouragement and even birthed bitterness.
So, we really do need to choose better over bitter. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it!
I have been in several denominational and non/inter-denominational churches during the past four decades. Overall, people are the same; all in process, to be polite!
While we are not to question our leaders, for (as I have learned) we don’t know the load they carry and, truly, they don’t have to explain themselves to us, I have been really surprised that not only were some of my ideas to lead a group to start a church newsletter or evangelize others or something not supported, but even mocked and ridiculed! Go figure!
(Let me clarify that the church I’ve been in for many years now has huge vision and supports and covers my ideas and others to go get the harvest! The leaders are exceptional harvesters and sowers themselves! Amen!)
In spite of how I was treated by church leadership, which proves that I have truly been following Jesus, not a church leader, no matter how anointed! I have learned a few things:
(1) We are not the judge (and that’s a GOOD thing!). No church leader is perfect. It is the Anointing of Christ that makes them people we are to follow. Pastors should be respected and encouraged and prayed for, but never be put on pedestals, which I finally learned, forever!
(2) When things others do or say (or don’t do, that we expect), things that cause us hurt, it’s almost always because there is already a hurt (a wound, a trauma, a disappointment) that was already there. The devil loves to set up traps for us to aggravate those hurts and add to them. We need the LORD to help us recognize them, repent of them, and help us be healed of them and those nagging memories attached to them.
(3) Almost every person who is a Believer wants other Believers to be as perfect as possible. However, there is only One Perfect One, and that is Jesus Christ our LORD, our Divine Example!
(4) It is not our responsibility about how others act. Of course, if we are parents or pastors or have some type of leadership role, it is our responsibility to spend time with the LORD in His Word and prayer, at church and in worship, and be the best example of Christ we can, especially to our children and any to whom He has given us direct responsibility over, and to teach them His ways directly.
(5) When I have humbled myself, and sometimes it’s taken days, weeks, months, even years, the people to whom I have apologized have usually seemed surprised. But I’ve never had anyone turn down my apology. There have been a few times I’ve truly through that I deserved an apology from them, but I’ve had to let it go. The LORD gives us all a free will. It has often been later that, after I obeyed the LORD to apologize to someone whom I felt had deeply hurt me and, often, many times, I would get insight into why the LORD wanted me to do that. The main reason was to expose (to me) the offense, and allow Him to bring healing. (Offense must be exposed and rooted out, so the damage will stop, and love will grow and bring healing, freedom, restoration, and peace!)
My act of humility, the apology, was an act of repentance. Then, He’d have me pray positively for that person, as I was reminded that Jesus died for them and they were (almost always) in the Family of God.
One day years ago, I was questioning in my heart why certain things had not happened yet. The reply was clear but gentle in my soul: “There is so much rubble we cannot rebuild the wall.”
I love it when He answers quickly and clearly like that. He is so good! I also knew He was quoting to me from Nehemiah (4:10), one of my favorite books of the Bible. So, I knew I had some “rubble” to deal with, so He could fulfill my desires and requests.
If we want the LORD to rebuild our lives and help us have Heaven on earth; more Zoe every day, then we must work with Him and actually ask Him to expose “the rubble” and help us remove it forever! He will! He is so gracious and faithful, patient and loving. Praise Him!
So, when I have obeyed the LORD, and it gets easier, overall, to obey the LORD as we obey year after year, because He is so faithful, loves us so much, and we realize these things more each time, if we are sensitive at all.
I have taught elementary kids for over 25 years, and it’s kind of like when two students argue or try to bully each other or something. The first thing I do is give them an opportunity to apologize to and forgive each other. Sometimes I’ve actually instructed them to say, “I forgive you,” to each other. Sometimes, they have obeyed. Anyway, you understand what I mean, I’m sure; adults are often kids in big bodies!
I’m not being sarcastic. If wounds (traumas of emotion/feelings) that happen in childhood are not recognized and healed, there is still an “open wound” into adulthood. These scars can cause major problems in relationships and more. Ask me how I know!
The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but the LORD Jesus Christ (HE IS RISEN INDEED!) has come that we would have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10)! We can have freedom from hurts and negative memories, and have days of Heaven on earth (Deut. 11:9,21).
If you don’t know where to start, ask your Father to help you understand. He is forever faithful; He will! The Spirit of Truth, His Spirit, will show you what you need to know, both reminding you of what you’ve heard, and showing you new things (John 16:13). Then ask Him for Grace and strength, peace and joy and wisdom, to make those changes.
You’ll be so glad you did!
Article by Tonja K. Taylor. Published by permission from faithwriters.com Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, via River Rain Creative Arts (You Tube, God Tube), their church, and beyond. Article source: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=41103