Just when you think you have everything figured out, life throws you a curve ball. In the last few weeks I have been praying that God would renew me, reveal more of Himself to me, and basically have a “spring cleaning” of my heart. Be careful what you pray for. In my quiet time today, I read over a passage I have probably read several times. In fact, it is one that I memorized in my teenage years. It is Colossians 3:13-17,
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
About 13 years ago, God really began to work on my heart in the area of forgiveness. I had some unresolved feelings that needed to be removed from my life. I was a work in progress, and it took a while. I am glad God was patient with me, and did a work of grace in my heart. I was able to forgive some who had hurt me very deeply. I absolutely give God the praise for this because I know I could never have done it on my own. I continued to live my life using the principles I had learned in the area of forgiveness. For a long, long time, I began to think, “Ok, I got this. I have mastered forgiveness.” Well, brothers and sisters, I needed to think again. My husband is fond of says, “Dealing with our sin and attitudes is like peeling an onion. You work on it till it is mastered, and as it it peeled back you realize there is another deeper layer that must be dealt with before considering it mastered.” (or words to that effect) Today, I found a new layer. Something can up in my life that caused me to look back at the hurt all those years ago. I found myself focusing on it, rather than shifting my focus to God. So once again, I gave it back to Him and forgave again.
When things happen in our life, we often find that new depths of our trials need to be dealt with. As I read these verses, I saw a progression from forgiveness to thankfulness. According to our Scripture, once we have forgiven we need to “put on charity” or love. This is a deliberate act. I needed to show love. Once I “put on love”, then “the peace of God” can rule in my heart.This peace shows us that we are part of the body of Christ. When we fail to show forgiveness to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are fighting against our own body. For peace to be felt, love needs in be in action. From peace, I have to choose to be thankful. This is a command, something I must do whether I am ready to feel thankful or not. After I make the choice to be thankful, I am in a position to let the Word of Christ dwell in me “richly in all wisdom”. Do you want the wisdom of Christ? If so, let’s work on getting in the Word of God. If you think about it, the onion applies to this too. To get to the to the heart of the matter, I want Christ to dwell in me completely in all the nooks and crannies of my heart. I do not want to hold back areas of my life and whisper, “Lord, don’t go there!” When Christ takes over, He gives me a song in my heart that is grace-filled, then I can praise with a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness. Forgiveness to Thankfulness is a overwhelming feeling. It is after this progression is made can I truly be thankful for going through the hurting that I have received by others or by my own making.
Yes, peeling the onion often causes tears and anguish. The knife of God’s word can cut through, and show us where we need to begin. Forgiveness is one of the hardest, needed thing we can ever do, but once those layers are peeled back our heart will be just a little closer to the person we hold in highest regard–Jesus Christ.