I was recently reminded of the stark reality that, if I want to continue to press on in my relationship with Jesus, I must die. Die to self, that is.
Someone really blasted me this past week. Their anger was directed toward my husband, Jeff, but I got the first blow. Pent-up frustration that had unrealistic expectations finally erupted—all over me.
Now, you can dis me; I can handle that. But if you dis my husband, my kids, or my grandkids—well, that’s a different story. As a wife and mom, I am pretty protective of my family. Surely I have a right to be offended. It’s my right to sulk, be depressed or angry, and have a bad attitude. I have feelings too, right? Right?!
Well, according to the Bible, no, I don’t have the right to be offended, to have a bad attitude, or to hold anything against another person. That’s where that whole dying-to-self idea kicks in.
First Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love “keeps no record of being wronged.” This verse hangs on my living room wall, and I normally enjoy looking at it. This past week, I’ve been trying to ignore it. Yet it keeps calling out to me from the wall.
Messages like that followed me all week. Finally I said, “Lord, I’m not like You, I can’t just forgive like You did.”
Of course, that day’s devotion just had to be on the topic of—drumroll, please— forgiveness! Ugh! I sat there and thought about what I’d just read and what I know to be true. It was time to die.
Jeff clinched the deal when he asked me to watch a video he was contemplating showing at our church that Sunday. I watched it, and tears flowed down my cheeks as I realized once again how Jesus Christ died an incredibly brutal death on a cross for me. He has forgiven me of all my wrongs against Him and others—past, present, and future. How could I do anything less than forgive this person who had hurt my husband and me?
And then, as if the video weren’t enough, the Lord reminded me of Matthew 18:21–35, when Peter asked Jesus how often he had to forgive someone who sinned against him. Jesus basically told him there would be no end to the amount of times he must forgive.
Likewise, if I want to be obedient to Christ, to become more like Him, and to remain in close relationship with Him, I am required to forgive over and over again too.
So I chose to forgive this person, even without any apology on their part. I realized it’s not my responsibility to make them see how hurt or offended I was or to inform them of their need to apologize. My only responsibility was to let the offense go, to release the offender to the Lord, and let Him deal with them and the situation at hand.
Die to self… It wasn’t easy, but I did it. And you can too.
Life’s struggles are real, and how we handle them is important. We can choose to be imprisoned to offenses or to be free through forgiveness. It’s our choice.