Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bless and Do Not Curse

Day 67

Bless and Do Not Curse

While many will render good for good, we must render good for evil; and this will speak a nobler principle than most men act by.[i]
Matthew Henry


ne morning I had what can only be termed a meltdown. On my knees, I cried out my perspective to the Lord. I enumerated the ways I had suffered over the years, reminded the Lord of key junctures at which I had obeyed, and cried outrage toward those who had sinned against me.  

In the afternoon I learned something upsetting had happened to the people about whom I'd complained to the Lord, something that, if the situation had proceeded to its expected end (it did not), would have had a disastrous impact for them. I was appalled, and felt perhaps I'd contributed to this event through my impassioned cries to God that morning. I prayed sincerely (belatedly) that the Lord forgive these people and bless them.

The influence we have over the heart of the Lord who loves us needs to be taken seriously. It is Christlike to forgive someone who has hurt us, and loving our enemies and praying for them pleases God. But what if we are so hurt or frightened that we lose control of our emotions and fall at the Lord's feet, sobbing out only our own pain and grief? "In all their distress, He too was distressed..." (Isaiah 63:9). When God's parental ire is raised on behalf of his suffering children, He will take action. We don't want to feel like the child who tattles and then finds too late that watching his friend suffer is not to his liking.   

I love those precious people I ranted about to the Lord. Because of the coincidence of something bad happening to them on the very day I'd cried out to God regarding them, I was truly concerned I'd caused them harm until the Lord brought to mind the book A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. I remembered Scrooge's delirious joy when he awoke and realized the three ghosts had been just a dream, and that he still had time to change. Nothing truly bad happened after all, I still had time to change! And, Romans 12:14 revealed to me that not only is it better to pray blessings rather than harm, it is God’s command: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”  

The Lord used a coincidence to provide me a lesson, similar to the one Scrooge experienced, of why we are to be merciful rather than incensed when we are wronged. Our natural tendency is to be selfish with our time and resources and vengeful when others appropriate something we’ve labeled our own; remember that until he met the ghosts, Scrooge didn't mind letting the poor stay in their hovels so long as he had his share. The Lord provided me a snapshot of how it would feel if my Scrooge-like action or inaction caused suffering to fall on the head of others, and it was a terrible feeling. 

Our hearts are safe in God's hands; let us pray that His heart for others is safe with us. We can't avoid being hurt, and the Lord doesn’t ask us to suppress our pain or to withhold sharing it with Him. However, our prayers should never consist solely of complaints against our fellow human beings because this is a terrible failure to love as we’ve been loved and forgive as we’ve been forgiven. Let us pray now with Jesus' words that made salvation available to us: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:33-35).  

Pray: Lord, please temper my anger with Your mercy, and keep me from sinning when I have been wronged. I lift those who have caused me harm to You, and pray that You heal what is wrong in them and bring them the blessings of learning to know and trust in You. Lord, please mend what has been broken, heal what has been hurt, and provide restitution for the sins that have been done to me. But I lift my enemies to You, and I forgive them, because You forgave me.  Amen.  


But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 5:35-37 NIV

[i] Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on Matthew 5, public domain

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