by DR. DEBBIE LANIER
As long as we live and breathe, conflict, even with those we love, is inescapable. We misinterpret each other’s words, motives, or actions, OR we hear them loud and clear! We simply view situations from two VERY different perspectives. It happens.
But amid these inevitabilities, how should the mature one in God respond? We must make amends where possible, so the enemy cannot divide us relationally. More importantly, we must protect ourselves from the rift within that shatters the sanctity of our soul!
God is schooling me on the difference between forgiveness and forbearance. The mature heart must discern the distinction, then toss the score card!
Forgiveness is when we see the fault lines, and we shore them up by either asking for forgiveness or extending it. This grace heals us and moves us forward. Lingering unforgiveness inevitably destroys us from the inside out, NO MATTER who’s right! (Get that!)
But what do we do when the pain is screaming, and the person at fault is oblivious or just downright obstinate? If we’re not careful, the wound will bleed into every thought until it consumes us. Before long, this colors our words and actions, too. That’s where forbearance comes in.
“Love bears all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) We “forbear” or “endure” with one another. We cover the unfixed relationship with an endurance only God can give. (Stay with me!)
“Love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) That doesn’t mean we become a doormat or gloss over the wrongs done. Such a view distorts grace instead of walking in its power.
The grace God gives to forbear or endure doesn’t ignore or deny the mistreatment. It simply sets us in a place in God where we can say “love never fails” …in me! No matter the chasms between this person and me now, God’s love in me covers the gaps just as He has covered my own shortcomings with Himself.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that the disagreement stretches too far. Trying to forgive or forbear feels contrived. This rift is NOT resolved. I hear you! But stop waiting on the other party to act. It’s not even about them any longer. It’s about YOU and the sanctity of your own soul.
God covered the gaping hole between you and Him. Now He empowers you to cover the broken places in this situation. His love at work in you fastens the fault lines together because His love never fails . . . in you!
“But what about the wrong inflicted? What about the mistreatment leveled against me?”
Remember, I’m talking to mature ones! Get your eyes off that person and become fixed on God’s unfailing love toward you.
You’re not trying to prove your point. You are proving God’s love is alive and well IN YOU! Rushing waters cannot squelch that kind of love and floods cannot drown it.
God is not asking you to become chums again. He is requiring of you a love that takes the high road and fills the chasm. It’s the only way to experience freedom from this situation. Otherwise, this offense becomes a stronghold that strangles the life blood out of you!
Ditch the offense, friend. Stop letting it preoccupy your thoughts. Choose to love anyway! Consider God’s extravagant love toward you that poured over your broken pieces when He owed you NOTHING! From that place, you can walk through the rubble on your way to climbing higher!
“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a PHILLIPS)
For comments or prayer, contact Dr. Lanier at PastorDebbie@HopeCommunityChurch.tv.