Isaiah 61:1 (New International Version)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
How did the people who raised you handle hurts and offenses? If they had difficulty forgiving, chances are that you do, too. The behaviors that were modeled for us become our default reactions that kick in whenever we encounter conflict—unless we learn new habits.
The apostle John writes that those who follow God’s ways walk in the light. He also claims that people will prefer darkness if they don’t want their evil ways exposed. We always have the choice whether to remain in dark captivity or to follow God’s ways into light and freedom.
Refusing to forgive our offender may seem right and just because it’s what we’ve been taught. But holding grudges and tallying up wrongs only keep us shackled to the offense. We remain prisoners of our anger and pain as long as we cling to our wounds and refuse to give up our right to punish.
In the Isaiah passage quoted above, Jesus Himself is the anointed one sent to comfort the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and deliver the prisoners from darkness. Is that you? The word “prisoners” here can also be translated “the blind.” Open your eyes to see a different way of responding to conflict, a better way. God’s way. Let him break your chains of bitterness and lead you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
FATHER, it’s true that withholding forgiveness keeps me bound to the very act that hurts and angers me, yet I can’t seem to help myself. I automatically respond to conflict with self-protecting behaviors and a self-righteous attitude that makes me right and the other person wrong. I do believe that forgiveness is a wise policy, but show me how I can practice it in real live situations. Temper my reflexive defensiveness with kindness and patience and mercy that are the good gifts of your Spirit in my life.
John 3:19; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7
What did you learn from your caregivers about how to treat people who offend you?