Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ephesians 4

I wrote this last summer, and just now found it sitting in my drafts folder . If it interests you, great. If not, that's fine, too. I wrote it just for me, but today found so much to treasure all over again in the verses I referenced.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. My neighbor would say that's why she's seen smoke coming from this direction, which is probably true.

I've been thinking about who people allow into (and out of) their lives, and who they allow to give them counsel, and why.

If my marriage were in trouble (which it is not) I certainly wouldn't ask advice from someone who has been through a few.

If my relationship with my daughter were in crisis (which it is not) I wouldn't follow the direction of a childless person, much less a woman who doesn't have a good relationship with her own daughter.

If I were in financial trouble (which I am not) I wouldn't ask for help from someone who has money problems. As Dave Ramsey says, I don't take financial advice from broke people. It's just not wise.

I was reading in Ephesians earlier today. The chapter talks about maturing in Christ. I'm going to try not to sound righteous and sanctimonius here, because that's not my intent. I'm just working through some stuff, and kind of need to get it out.

In the first few verses, it basically says that we should be tolerant, understanding and forgiving of one another's mistakes and sins. I think it's especially important, and yet especially difficult, to be forgiving. But it's what we as Christians are commanded to do. If we don't forgive, we won't be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). Even if the person who wronged you never acknowledges the hurt they've caused you (or that you allowed yourself to feel; think about that for a moment. whoa.), we're to let it go. Just like Christ lets ours go when we ask and turn away from sin.

Since His mercies are new every morning, we have to extend that to those who have hurt us. Trust me when I say it's not easy, and I'm not completely there yet. It's more like a daily choice. I wake up and think, "I'm not going to hold onto that any more."

And the next day, I wake up again and think, "I'm not going to hold onto that any more."

And the next day I wake up and think, "I hope that person has the worst day ever!" Or, more accurately, "I hope that person gets what's coming to them!" And then I pray and ask forgiveness for the bitterness, and for His help to let it all go.

And the next day I wake up and think, "I'm not going to hold onto that any more." So it's a work in progress for me, really.

Since I really and truly don't want to get what I deserve (what's coming to me), I have to repent for those thoughts, and pray God's peace, and blessing, and prosperity on those who have hurt me.

Back to the Scriptures: "And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore," (Ephesians 4:17-19a, The Message). Wow. Some people are so easily swayed that they're always under the influence of the last person with whom they spoke. But we have to break away from all that.

"Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you," (Ephesians 4: 26-32, The Message).

It's a really powerful passage. Or maybe it's just speaking to me.

Recently my mom and I had a long conversation about this kind of stuff. I did some apologizing and asking of forgiveness, and so did she. She told me that she carries guilt for past mistakes. Just like I told her, I have to tell myself:




God's forgiveness extends to anyone who asks for it. Who am I to hold onto something that Jesus Christ Himself paid for? Who am I to say, "Well. He may have forgiven you, but I'm certainly not going to." And I'm speaking to myself here. I can't hold onto my own past sins. You can't hold onto your own past sins. And, I can't hold onto your past sins. They're not mine anymore, and they're not yours anymore. I don't "own" them, and neither do you. Christ's sacrifice on the cross paid the price, once and for all, for all sins: past, present and future. His blood doesn't just cover a few sins, or just the little ones. It covers them all. By holding onto them: yours, mine or anyone elses, you're saying that His death meant nothing.

I've been guilty for too long of that... and I'm not willing to be any longer.

Love generously. Forgive freely.

Blessings to you.


MaryAnne said...

Sounds like you and your neighbor know each other pretty well =)

I have this idea that you like to read (not sure why?), and was wondering, have you read "The Gift of Imperfection"? My mom sent it to me, and it's sort of tangentially related to this. I'm only halfway through, because I meant to bring it on the plane to finish and instead was left sitting with two sleeping daughters and nothing to do. But I really like it so far, at least once I got past the somewhat random swearing in the first chapter or so. Random in that it doesn't really fit with the rest of the tone of the book, IMO.

Tracye said...

MaryAnne, she's one of my best friends! We have so much in common it's ridiculous.

I LOVE to read. I read the entire Bible, cover to cover, in 88 days. I read the entire "Left Behind" series in less than a month.

I haven't read it, but I'll look for it.

And I haven't forgotten!!! I had honest intentions to mail them to you at Christmas, but... I didn't. I will, though. I promise.

kelsey said...

Forgiveness is something that I think most people struggle with. Like you said - it's a daily choice, not a feeling. It's great when the feeling is there too, but when it's not it boils down to a simple act of obedience. Definitely one of those character-building lessons. As hard as it is (for me, anyway, and especially when the person I'm trying to forgive has zero interest in my forgiveness), usually the intentional "let it go" choice ends up healing my hurts in the long run. There's a great peace in giving things over to God.

Great post. Thank you for sharing.

MaryAnne said...

That's awesome to be best friends with your neighbor!

You read a LOT! How do you do it? I read the Bible cover to cover twice, once in one year and once in two. Reading it in 88 days is a real feat!

And don't worry about getting stuff sent out! We'll love it whenever it shows up =)