Series: Good Advice
He and I were good friends, but now I was getting the cold shoulder.
In spite of our age difference, Ray* and I clicked. He planted my garden, helped me pick up trash along the road, visited with me, and was an all-around good friend. Until I made my cardinal mistake. His sister died, and I wasn’t there for him. I had no excuse; I was busy, stressed, and in selfish mode. My apology was met with a scowl and a gruff, “It’s a little late now.” Not, “It’s okay. I forgive you. We all make mistakes.” Just, “It’s too late.” As a result of his stubbornness, I had a few vengeful thoughts toward him.
Paul’s advice challenges us to adopt an unnatural response when wronged. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people (I Thessalonians 5:15 NLT).
All our actions result from thoughts, but not all thoughts lead to action. Some we choose to process differently or dismiss entirely. Vengeful thoughts against others may never make it farther than our mind, but when we choose to let them reside there they become sin.
Forgiveness is the only proper course to deal with vengeful thinking. I was willing to forgive Ray for the way he acted toward me, but he wasn’t willing to forget my infraction or accept my apology. Unforgiveness dealt the death blow to our friendship. Immediately releasing people from wrongs they’ve committed against us is always appropriate.
Revenge sours our inside and will in turn curdle our attitudes and actions. Vengeful thoughts that we refuse to release to God’s grace harm us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Who are you plotting against that you need to forgive and love instead?
Prayer: God of grace and mercy, we admit our tendency to plot revenge against those who hurt us. Remind us of Your forgiveness that we in turn might release those we’re tempted to harm.
*Name changed to protect privacy of individual.
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