This month, here at MYB, we’re talking about walking in love. It seems like such an easy idea, especially since we surround ourselves with people we love and get along with. But if you’re like me, even with your circle of loved ones around you, you stumble and end up in a spat with someone, and those feelings of walking in love quickly escape. And sadly, if you’re anything like me, you spend some time waiting for the other person to ask for forgiveness.
That selfishness really gets in my way at times. It blocks friendships and hinders relationships, and it certainly doesn’t honor the Lord or help our relationship with Him to grow.
We as Christians often live in ways that seem counter-cultural. And it’s to that end that I’d like to encourage you, in those difficult times where we all stumble, to be the first to ask for forgiveness.
Believe me when I tell you this post is probably more for me than for you. I’m comfortable with my grudges. I hunker down and wait for the other person to humbly come to me and share their list of wrongdoings. And then I turn to my kids and encourage them to go and ask forgiveness in order to repair a damaged relationship. How sad is that?!
Through the years, I’ve learned that I have to pay attention to what I’m teaching our kids, because it’s usually a lesson for me as well.
I watch one apologize to another, and before long they are happily off on their way, picking right up where they left off. I notice their happiness, their connection, spring back to life.
Can it really be that easy? But why do I have to humble myself? Shouldn’t the other person have to humble himself or herself?
Counter-cultural. God doesn’t call us to live like the rest of the world. No, He calls us to so much more. He calls us to Himself, to be holy, set apart, different from those around us.`
That means I can expect conviction in my own life as He tries to make me more like Himself. And one major area He’s working on is learning to ask for forgiveness.
I have been intentional in trying to ask for forgiveness in different situations, even if I’m pretty sure that the other person needs to apologize. (Yes, still working on that humility thing….)
Do you know what I’m finding?
Peace. When I apologize (and when the other person apologizes), there is a quick return to peace, just like what I see with my kids. The hard edges of the grudges and bad feelings are easily made smooth.
Joy. Not necessarily happiness, but joy – knowing that I’ve done what God has asked me to do. My heart is full of joy as a direct result of following through with what He has asked of me.
Patience. I see the other person a little more as God sees them and a little less as “my biggest frustration.”
Kindness. It is so much easier to be kind to someone with whom you feel at ease, isn’t it?
Love. When the relationship is repaired, the love immediately grows again. It’s easy to work on building a relationship or friendship when the frustrations are cleared up.
The fruit of the Spirit, as illustrated above, becomes a lot more evident in my life and in my relationships when I’m willing to take this small step of asking for forgiveness (even if it seems like a great big step) when I’ve wronged someone. And when the roadblocks of unrepentance and unforgiveness are removed, I am much more able to walk in love!