When I was a teenager, I remember this ad campaign for some kind of diet aid. The scene for the commercial was a secretary typing at her desk, when her intercom sounded. The intercom announced, “Betty, Betty …This is the doughnut in the next room calling. I’m ready for you to come eat me now. I’ve got sprinkles!” Then the commercial said, “when cravings call, use such-n-such” I cannot remember the name of the product that was supposed to help poor Betty (or whatever her name was), but I do remember the look of temptation and helplessness on her face.
We’ve all faced temptations for various things. In fact, the things that are good for us are seldom the things we find attractive. I don’t think Betty would have had the same reaction if a bowl of Kale was in the next room instead of a box of donuts. Recently, I had a temptation, not of something to consume, but of something I could let consume me. I discovered that someone cheated me. At first, I thought the service person was just ignorant and did not know how to operate their equipment as well as they claimed. Then I thought they were just lazy, leaving the job halfway completed. But as my husband and son repaired what was broken and ordered parts to be replaced, I found out the person was down right deceitful. What the person charged me for the parts they installed incorrectly was almost five times as much as their actual cost. I had basically paid this person thousands of dollars for them to just break, instead of upgrade my item. To top it all off, this person was a church going Christian!
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
This person owed me. I had every right to be angry with them and hold a grudge. I thought about suing them. I thought about sending my husband and three sons after them to beat the living snot out of them. Savage, I know! I thought about going to their Pastor and telling him what they had done. I thought about posting it on Facebook ( after all, I had to protect other innocent people from being cheated as well). I found myself, alone in my house, having conversations with an imaginary version of this person, enumerating my grievances. I rehearsed what I would say to a judge, then what I would say to their pastor, and what I would say if anyone asked me my opinion of this person’s work. I am ashamed to admit it, but this subject consumed more of my time than it should have.
After several days of nursing this radioactive offense and making myself miserable with anger, I fell to my knees in prayer because I just could not stand myself anymore. There, through tears, I let the great physician surgically remove the cancerous piece of unforgiveness from my heart. Three things I have learned about unforgiveness over my fifty years on this earth. One, it has to be treated like it is radioactive. It will hurt you, your health, your mental well being, your job performance and your relationships with loved ones much more than the offense itself. Two, forgiveness does not mean you act like something never happened and ignore your hurt. It means that you turn your right for vengeance over to the Lord. You give the offender to the Lord and ask the Lord to correct them. After all, it is only He who can truly see their heart and bring about change. Three, all of us are sinners who do not deserve anything but death. It is only through God’s grace that we can live. So, who are we to demand our rights? If we were to get what we deserve, none of us would be living.
So does this mean I am totally over my hurt with this person? Not entirely. When I see them in public, my offense calls to me like that doughnut. But now, it is only a few seconds as I choose to forgive, silently pray that the Lord would bring that person to the end of themselves so they seek his face, and I move on to my next activity. My anger has been replaced with gratitude for God giving me a husband and son who could fix the problem, and enough provision from my business to take this financial hit. Perhaps, in the future, I may find out the reason why this person cheated me. Perhaps, they will ask for forgiveness. But, I don’t need for either of those two things to happen. I just need to remember that I can trust God to work it all out for my good. This person is God’s kid, and thankfully I don’t have to help God parent this person.
My friend, is there an offense you have been carefully cuddling to your heart like a fluffy puppy. Have you been giving it all your time and attention? Recognize it for the viper it is and ask our heavenly Father to remove it from you. Give your right for vengeance to him. He will repay, and you can go on to enjoy life once again!