1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. - James 4:1-3
James 4 has one of the clearest and most honest discussions of conflict in relationships in the bible. We all experience strife in our relationships, and we always want it to be the other person’s fault. The hard truth is that our relationships struggle because we ALL of us carry something destructive into the relationship - not just the other person. We all carry sin into our relationships.
Sin causes us to be self-absorbed and self-focused because it causes us to live for ourselves. The hope for our relationships is not found in us, or in that other person changing, the hope is found in His grace.
If you follow James 4 down to verse 6, you will see His answer - but He gives more grace. There is grace for every hurtful moment. He gives us enough grace to cover the multitude of times we will be sinned against in relationships, and all those times we sin against others.
So many of us struggle with incredible hurts from people who have sinned against us. It is heartbreaking to watch people walk through the hurt caused by other’s sins, and it can cause us to question God’s goodness or His judgment. It can make us think we have a right to take judgment into our own hands and hand out consequences to those who have sinned against us. As deep as those hurts are, our failure to forgive and our desire to hand our punishments is great wickedness. God knows our hearts so well that He reminds us of this truth over and over in scripture:
37 "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." - Luke 6:37-38
It is very easy to judge people who have hurt us - that's He includes verses about judgment right next to forgiveness. Once we have been hurt by someone, big or small, we have a tendency to keep them locked in the box of who they were when they offended us. But we are told to forgive - unconditionally. Jesus tells us to forgive everyone, for everything. Whether people have been rude to you, or deeply offended you, whether people have done something cruel, or even broken the law, whether people have violated your trust or your privacy, or even your body, whether you have been falsely accused or lied to, we are called to forgive. Finding forgiveness for the little hurts can be challenging, but finding the forgiveness for the big hurts can be downright impossible in our own power.
I have suffered through both small hurts and massive hurts that have left deep emotional scars on my heart, and I have come to find it is only through Him that I can even begin to let it go. I have to bring the hurt to Him over and over in prayer and lay it down at His feet, repeatedly asking Him to take it from me, lest I will pick it right back up again. Sometimes I will even think I've finally let it go, then something happens and I'm nursing my hurt all over again. I have found a few things help me when I have a hard time letting something go, and it begins with confessing the sin of unforgiveness.
As much as that person hurt me, it is a sin for me to hold on to the anger or the hurt, and it a sin for me not to forgive. I must let it go, and when I don't, I must get down on my knees and as for forgiveness for MY sin, not the other person. I also try to remember that God is always working on people and growing them in one way or another. I know how much He can change a person because He's done a miraculous work on my heart. When I think back to the person I used to be, it's like watching a movie clip of another life. If God can do that for me, He can do that for anyone. If God has used the horrible things I have done in my past to change me, then He can use the horrible things that person has done to me to change them.
Don't keep people locked in a box. You never know when God will break them free. Finally, I try to remember what a broken sinner I am, and just how forgiven I am. I have committed some terrible sins, yet God has given me freedom and does not hold me accountable for those sins. He doesn't remind me of those sins every time He sits with me, instead He reminds me how much He loves me. How dare I hold someone else accountable for their sins over and over again. We are a forgiven people ~ and forgiven people forgive.
Press on, ladies ~ you are loved 💗
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