i think that we go through trials and hardships to build character. i think that character is one of the most important qualities that people can have! it is painful to build character sometimes, but it's necessary. it is important for evils to be aimed at us sometimes... to build character and to teach us how to forgive. forgiveness is one of the hardest things to learn, but once you learn it and reap the rewards of forgiveness... it's such a great tool!
anyway, in my awesome bible study i completed a few months ago, we focused for one week on this topic (the title). i'm going to briefly (hopefully) go through what we went through.
"Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth: and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away." ~Matthew 13:5-6
"Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles." ~Matthew 13:21
in our life we will have "rocks" or "stony places" that represent past offenses, circustances, or persecution for doing what is right.
when we face these rocks, usually we react many different ways, but usually it will all boil down to us focusing on "why me?" <PRIDE>
these rocks prevent us from growing because they develop unresolved conflict. and when conflict is not dealt with, it leads to UNFORGIVENESS and BITTERNESS.
"Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion." ~Romans 12:14-16
bless means to wish someone well, to desire God's favor on their lives. curse means to pray against, to call down God's judgment on their lives. ...when someone "persecutes" you (or does you evil. makes you mad. etc.) you need to pray for them. pray for blessings to be poured over them. ask God to favor their life and earnestly focus on THEM being HAPPY!
bless those that are PERSECUTING you... identify with the pain and suffering of others. set proper boundaries for your physical, emotional, spiritual safety. (GUARD YOUR HEART)
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neibor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." ~Matthew 5:43-45
sometimes we confuse the feeling of forgiving with the action of forgiving.
there are three stages of forgiving: to forgive, forgiving, and forgiven.
- "to forgive" is a choice, an act of the will. --there's things in life that we have to do (ALL THE TIME) that we don't want to do, or that we don't feel like doing...
- "forgiving" is a process where your decision to forgive begins to align your emotions.
- "forgiven" is when the Holy Spirit helps you experience joy when blessings occur to the other person. (see Romans 12:14-21)
when we take retaliation into our own hands, we're taking God's place. personal retaliation is an ineffective way to accomplish peace. i will reiterate: "DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD."
that's all for tonight. tomorrow i will throw some questions at you and give you some study material and a memory verse... ;)
Try to remember, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."