We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. Psalm 55:14 CSB
Years ago, a close friend of mine hurt me deeply. When I was my most vulnerable emotionally and mentally, this person verbally attacked me, causing me more pain and angst. It was a dark time, a difficult time, and though I have since forgiven that person, I came away with some learning lessons.
The insults of a friend turned adversary stings and stings hard. This psalm is not much different than my own situation, where a friend acted treacherously. What I found was that the pain of a strained relationship haunts and hurts, and it even affected my worship of the Lord. It took a long time and many restless nights to get through it. And that only happened when I forgave.
But what did I learn? First, forgiveness is key. This is a forgiveness that is true and authentic. After all, as believers, we are called to fellowship, to reconcile our differences. We are to forgive, not once, not twice, not seven times, but seventy times seven (or infinitely). And yes, this is hard. Very hard.
But authentic, countless forgiveness is a radical concept, even counter cultural. That’s because it’s different than the world, since the throw away culture of today tosses relationships aside like trash in the interest of self preservation. As believers, though, we must treasure relationships as blood brothers and sisters in Christ. We preserve Christ, not self. We practice peace. We extend radical forgiveness based in the Spirit and truth, something that the world doesn’t normally see or experience.
I also learned through this experience that humility toward others is essential. When I forgave, I got healthy, but even more importantly, I learned more about myself and how I probably also hurt others around me. I realized that I had my own logs in my eye. And excuse the pun, but it was eye opening, for sure!
That said, forgiveness and humility go hand in hand. Paul wrote as much in Ephesians 4:32 (ESV): “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Being reminded to forgive as Christ did is in itself a humbling experience. When we have a posture of humility, forgiveness can happen and we are (hopefully) more careful not to hurt others, and instead look out for their interests (Phil 2:4). We treat others as we want to be treated (Luke 6:31).
We can all avoid being that friend who stings. Even more, all of us can do better in forgiving others. I pray that this is helpful for you.
For me, I am starting a new ministry this Sunday. And in this new ministry, I will commit to being an example to the preservation of loving, godly relationships that glorify Christ, uplift souls, and lead to worship of the One True God. May I be a peacemaker for Jesus.