Galatians 5:17 (New Living Translation)
The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Our sinful nature is always willing to do battle over injuries and insults we suffer in relationships. Selfish motives compel us to hurt back, punish, or escalate conflict rather than let some wrongdoer off the hook. Far from wanting to appear weak, we may even argue our moral obligation to teach the wrongdoer a lesson for the good of humanity!
Paul calls this kind of thinking slavery to our sin nature. The Spirit, he claims, has come to set us free, not so we can indulge our natural inclinations but so we can love and serve God by loving and serving one another.
Faith teaches us that we have nothing to fear from our neighbors. We can afford to be generous and forgiving because our souls are safe and our value is guaranteed through the saving grace of Christ’s death for us on the cross. What truly threatens us is the evil that tempts us away from God and leads us into quarrels and jealousy and vengeful behavior.
Although God desires that we forgive one another, our pain over an injury may be so great that forgiving seems utterly impossible. If that’s true for you, take heart and don’t try to force the issue.
Instead, offer a simple prayer: “Father, give me faith to love you more.”
Just that. Pray it several times a day. Pray it every day. If you do, two things will happen:
- God will honor your prayer and give you what you ask. He will fill you with the reassurance of his Spirit because that’s what he desires and has promised to do.
- God’s Spirit will form in you desires that your sinful nature will resist but cannot defeat—desires to love and be merciful and in every way manifest your Father’s loving nature in your life and your relationships.
FATHER, give me faith to love you more.
Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 5:13-15
How can love for God help you to let go of a grudge?