On Tuesday mornings, Matthew and I attend a bible study at a nearby South Minneapolis church. This is time that I commune with my sisters in Christ, who are soon becoming close friends, and Matthew can socialize with other little ones his age. It is an invaluable time for both of us to learn and explore. During the bible study hour I am watching the Beth Moore DVD study Here and Now, Then and There, which is a lecture series on Revelation.
For the last couple weeks we have been treading through some very deep, intense study, which has left me riveted and moved. I am not going to share with you everything that we have been discussing; but there was a point that Beth made that had me in tears and I thought it be helpful to some of you.
There are many of us out there that cary burdens that need to be forgiven. Sometimes these injuries are due to someone wronging us and other times we have wronged others. No matter the situation, forgiveness is needed. Oftentimes, as humans, we hold onto these transgressions. We dwell on them causing our hearts to be consumed and plagued. We build them up as idols, keeping us from loving and trusting in God. It is only possible for us to either A) be self-centered or B) be centered on God. We cannot do both. As Christians we are called to be God-centered – to love our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul and all of our mind (Matthew 22:37).
We must make the decision to cast our cares on to the Lord (Pslam 55:22 and 1 Peters 5:7) who is merciful and sovereign. He is the one who can carry our burdens for us, who can grant us forgiving hearts and a renewed soul.
Do not worry about wrath or revenge. In Romans 12:17-21, Paul writes, Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men… “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. God will take care of revenge… but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19.
I hope that you choose God’s forgiveness, mercy and love over vengeance, wrath and revenge. Because it certainly does matter how we live our lives. In the words of Ezekiel 33:10-16…
“Son of man, speak to Israel. Tell them, ‘You’ve said, “Our rebellions and sins are weighing us down. We’re wasting away. How can we go on living?”‘
“Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’
“There’s more, son of man. Tell your people, ‘A good person’s good life won’t save him when he decides to rebel, and a bad person’s bad life won’t prevent him from repenting of his rebellion. A good person who sins can’t expect to live when he chooses to sin. It’s true that I tell good people, “Live! Be alive!” But if they trust in their good deeds and turn to evil, that good life won’t amount to a hill of beans. They’ll die for their evil life.
“‘On the other hand, if I tell a wicked person, “You’ll die for your wicked life,” and he repents of his sin and starts living a righteous and just life—being generous to the down-and-out, restoring what he had stolen, cultivating life-nourishing ways that don’t hurt others—he’ll live. He won’t die. None of his sins will be kept on the books. He’s doing what’s right, living a good life. He’ll live.
My prayer for you today is that you will make the choice to hand over your burdens to the God who can heal all, the Lord of your life, the creator of your soul. To be forgiven by God, we must simply repent and forgive others (Matthew 4:17 and Matthew 6:14-15). Remember that forgiveness is a constant choice, not an immediate feeling of relief.
I encourage you to take a photo of yourself with a piece of paper that says, Forgiven, like the one I took above. Make it your desktop or phone screensaver, allowing it to serve as a reminder that you are forgiven and loved by God. I challenge you to share your forgiven photo on Twitter, Facebook or your Blog. Let it minister and encourage someone else to start or renew their relationship with Jesus Christ.