Sunday, April 5, 2015

How to avoid persistent anger and bitterness?

The answer isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness happens when the person who wronged you, repents and asks for your forgiveness. If he does not repent, you cannot forgive.

Due to wrong theology, Christians are taught that one must forgive even when your abuser does not repent. The stock favorite quote from the Bible is, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Jesus was praying for his enemies, not forgiving them. He was praying that God would not wipe out his would-be murderers, but give them a chance to repent - and be forgiven of their sins. Jesus was following his own command to "pray for your enemies".

How am I so sure that this interpretation is correct? In Acts, the gospel message mentioned at least four times is "Repent...". Furthermore, the process for forgiveness given by Jesus is, "When your brother comes to you saying, I repent...".

What Jesus was showing through his prayer was, he did not have hatred nor bitterness towards his abusers - and that is all that is required of us.

But this is easier said than done.Your abuser may never repent. Even if he is a Christian, you may not be able to apply the conflict-resolution procedure in Matthew 18. What if you are not in the same church? What if there is no one willing to stand up for you?

Here are 3 ways I believe will help the process of avoiding persistent anger over the situation which always leads to hatred and bitterness.

1) Pray for your abusers.
what does it mean to 'bless those who persecute you?".
We must not pray for even greater empowerment for them to continue in their evil!
Pray for them to be saved. To find and know Jesus. For their lives to be a blessing.

2) Love.
what does it mean to love? As my friend Chris Graham says, "Love isn't a feeling, but is tied to an emotion". It means that when is weak and desperate, instead of killing him off, You spare his life. ("when he is hungry, give him food to eat").
Another passage to keep in mind as a yardstick for our love is 1 Corinthians Chap 13.

3) Focus on Christ.
In the martial art of jiu-jitsu, the saying goes that where the head points to, the body will follow.
When our thoughts are focused on Christ, our focus goes off our injury. It avoids the steeping of thoughts over our injury which will lead to sourness and then a vinegar-like bitterness.

Today is Easter... Resurrection Sunday!

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