God gave us a sound mind with a clear conscience. When we decide to step out of that zone and fall into sin, our conscience is clouded with justifications to convince us that the darkness we are about to enter has merit. Remember that old image of the Devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? Once you give in to the Devil, your conscience is seared and you are no longer listening to the voice of reason. This type of behavior may involve substance abuse or deep-seated anger, which brings out a whole new animal. The Enemy fills your mind with warped power and gives you strength to hurt others; but you hurt yourself even more.
One of life’s lessons I’ve learned is to walk away from situations that are not my responsibility. I’ve come to realized that God will not use me to dissuade another person’s mind or situation. As much as we want to be loved by everyone, there will always be people who, for whatever reason, will not want to associate with us. Sometimes these persons are in your family. I have found that when communicating with these individuals via phone or text, the feeling of regret and piled up collateral grief keeps me hostage to their great disdain for me. So I decided that no longer will I give the Enemy the upper hand in this manner. My prayer has been constant: I’ve been asking God to help me love and accept them without having to deal with their years of weighty drama and hate. This simple prayer is helping me release the burden of guilt.
The Enemy loves to remind us that we are Christians and to criticize our behavior. A perfect example of this is an experience I had at the local Target. A man was outside the store with a huge sign of a picture of his dog. Apparently the dog was picked up by the pound, and he needed money to free his beloved pet from being put down. This situation tugged at my heart, so I gave him the little cash I had in my purse. Three dollars was not going to get his dog out of the pound, but I wanted to help. As I handed the man the money, I said,”I truly hope you’re going to use the money for your dog.” Then all hell broke loose. The man’s tone changed, and he started shouting at me and accusing me of lying. Under normal circumstances, I would have ignored the stranger but not this time. “Take your stupid money back!” he yelled. With that I replied “Fine!” The angry man threw the money back at me, and as I picked it up I turned and walked away. From the top of his lungs he yelled out at me, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” His diabolical voice sent chills down my spine, but I never gave him the satisfaction of acknowledging his angry words.
How Unforgiveness Controls the Spirit
Have you ever wondered why some of our prayers are never answered? You pray, plead with God, wait, but still no reply. For years you’ve suffered the same fate, but have not understood the things that hold you back. Unforgiveness is the key to many of our unanswered prayers. Unforgiveness is characteristic of the Devil; once the seed is firmly planted in your brain, it sends waves of hatred, holding you captive by the pain. It’s a psychological stage four cancer; the emotional pain is all we think about. In reality unforgiveness has also been known to cause many illnesses.
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”
Unforgiveness keeps us from the intimacy of drawing closer to God. As I was walking my grand-dog the other night, I received a text message requesting prayer from a former congregant. As I read the text, it triggered a feeling of animosity. This person (I’ll refer to her as Judy) because of her awkward personality she rarely got along with anyone in the ministry. She thought herself holier than the rest of us. Personally I did not care for her, and receiving this message aggravated my spirit so much that I did not want to pray for her. I caught myself in the act of unforgiveness. Did Judy bring on these feelings of anger, or was it something from my past that I had not dealt with? I have not seen this person in 15 years, yet she was still upsetting me! Why?
How hypocritical of me attempting to school others on unforgiveness when, in reality, I have the same concern. These sensitive, push-button issues are surfacing because I never resolved them correctly. I allowed my thoughts to get the best of me, and this is exactly what happened after receiving this text message. My mind went back to all the reasons why this person was not friendworthy. My self-talk rationalized: “Man, I don’t want to pray for her. I was not the problem, no one really cared for her, besides I’m likable.” The real problem is that she had the same mannerisms and spirit of someone I did not get along with, so I neatly placed her in the same category of people I don’t want to associate with. God does not ask us to like everyone; He goes much deeper than that. He wants us to love everyone! This dilemma has brought me to a new level of spirituality, I must learn to love people who are not lovable! And one more thing about my self-talk: God heard every arrogant word and still loves me, but He also loves Judy just as much; in God’s eyes we are equal.
The Unforgiveness of Cancel Culture
Our society is suffering from historical unforgiveness. Cancel Culture is projecting and, at times, inventing things from the past that have emotionally traumatized their ancestors. This is more of a curse that is flowing through their bloodline. They can’t seem to get past anything and are eroding our society with their great wave of destruction. They want to change history to better suit their purposes. I could not believe Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson, and his wife Kelly made the national news because they are suing the prestigious private school that their children were attending. Because the school was using “repeated” racial words like plantation? This is how ridiculous Cancel Culture has become.
Dear Lord, thank You for the great epiphany of my unforgiveness. Give me the grace to be more loving and forgiving. I pray for Judy to continue in her work of producing Christian programming, and that many will be touched. Lord, I realize that I cannot change who Judy is but, through Your Divine Mercy, help me to love her as You do. Teach me to operate with a sincere heart toward those You place in my path. And to those of us who are harboring years of unforgiveness, heal us! Amen.