“Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32
Many years ago, before I belonged to my current church, I found myself on the receiving end of another believer’s wrath. Now, this woman and I had been close friends. However, the circumstances of her life brought her a great deal of pain and bitterness. And she began to blame me for issues that I truly had no part in. I prayed and prayed over the situation, and God gave me a great peace about severing our friendship because it had become very unhealthy. However, I walked away from the situation incredibly wounded because she was my friend and it broke my heart to be at such a place with her. It was like experiencing a death for me.
But it did not end there for her. I was, for many weeks, the object of her confrontations, nasty letters, and ridicule inside our church. After several months, it became so bad that I even went and apologized to her just to try and put an end to it. But it did no good. I remained in her crosshairs at every turn.
I figure most of you good Christian people would have received this situation with love and grace. But not me. I went from hurt to angry in 0 to 60.
How dare she treat me that way? She had no right to say those awful things about me. She had no right to embarrass and humiliate me in our small group. I HADN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG! So my patience ran out with her very quickly and I decided to give her a piece of my mind. I decided to put her in her place at a gathering of our friends, just as she had done to me. I was tired of being falsely accused.
But then, praise be to God, He intervened. I will never forget standing across the hall from this former friend and hearing THE voice,
“You can afford to be gracious.”
It was like thunder. I was sure everyone around me had heard it because it was so loud. I looked around and everyone was going about their normal business. Obviously, it was only me that God was talking to, and believe me, when you hear the voice of God – you know it.
“But Lord, I don’t deserve this.” I began.
“You didn’t deserve grace either, but I gave it to you. Look at her. Her world is falling down around her. She is suffering. And you are blessed with everything. You can afford to be gracious.”
And I turned to look at her again. Not with the eyes of contempt, but with a sister’s eyes. And I saw the pain and desperation that was bubbling beneath the surface. And I felt very small. I turned and walked away and just decided if she needed to dump all her toxicity on me, then it was probably better than her doing it at home where it would have only damaged her more.
God was right. I have so much more than I deserve. Most of all, I have His grace, that flows over me continually. If nothing else, I am called to be a dispenser of His grace in this broken world.
I haven’t heard that voice again. But once was enough. I am not always perfect, and sometimes my emotions get the better of me. But I do try to remember where most people’s anger comes from – places that I know nothing about.
How about you? Are you quick to anger at the slightest injustice? Are you like me, slow to forgive and only seeing your side in a conflict? God expects more of us friends. He expects us to be a reflection of His son, Jesus Christ and to show grace and mercy to a hurting world. He expects us love others into His kingdom. Could that be your Lenten sacrifice? To show so much love to difficult people that they are drawn to our Savior?
I call myself Christian. But I don’t act like it much of the time. Forgive me when my witness does more harm than good. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to be kind and gentle and forgiving in all situations. Help me to see others as you see them, broken but treasured by You. Lead me to being a grace dispenser in this world, and always pointing the way toward our Savior. Thank You for the grace you pour over me. And always help me to remember how very rich I am in You.
In Jesus’ name I pray,