A few months ago, Pastor Reg asked me to speak on the Pardon Test, the third test in our sermon series The Destiny Test. I was excited and honored to be sharing with our church family. I also had a feeling of dread in my stomach knowing full well that I, personally, had some work to do in the areas of pardon, forgiveness, and holding offense. So I did what all good Christians do, I set the subject on the shelf and went on serving and loving Jesus, my family, and friends. After all, it’s pretty easy to stay busy with good things and set aside the messiness of our hearts. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was brave enough to take a good look inside my heart. But then July arrived and I needed to have a message to share! So the studying began and with it came self examination, and with that came brokenness, and with that came the beginning of healing and freedom.
The Destiny Test series is based on the life of Joseph, Genesis 37 – 45. As I read and reread his story, I started to see some similarities in our lives. What wasn’t similar was our responses to events in our lives. The truth that stared me in the face was that offenses are an event but being offended is a choice. Genesis 45 says that Joseph told his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, to not feel bad, that God was in everything. Everything! Every offense that happened against him. Every struggle. Every hurt. How could he respond that way? He didn’t seek justice. He didn’t keep score or place blame. He only sought reconciliation. How could he do that?
And then came some truths that opened my eyes about unconditional love and how to give it.
AGAPE LOVE = unconditional, not based on performance, or if it is returned
PHILEO LOVE = affection among friends, it is conditional, it has expectations, “you treat me kindly, I’ll do the same
The only way to not hold on to offense is by having Agape Love, God’s love.
Phileo love comes naturally to us but Agape Love comes supernaturally from God. We can not love with Agape Love within our own strength. We can try for awhile but even the best of us will eventually get weary of the trying and want to wring someone’s neck (am I allowed to say that?).
I have often built walls, shutting people out that I thought would hurt me. Have you ever done the same? I have found that the walls I built for safekeeping of my heart have turned into prisons with a hardness settling in around me, a numbness. I could go on in my life, following God, but deep inside there has been a garbage dump of emotions that I have hidden away and put aside.
As I dug into hurts and offenses I’ve held onto, I really struggled with why I couldn’t let go. The deeper I dug, the more I thought about it, the more upset I became. From that place I realized that my offense went deeper than a person. I was offended with God. Why would God let this happen. Why was He doing NOTHING? From there I had to decide if I was going to trust God. Trust Him with everything. Could I take Him at His word like Joseph did and step by step continue to walk into the destiny He has me?
Last week at my dining room table, with study notes, books, and my Bible spread out all over, I broke. I let go. I laid it all down.
I pray today that you will lean into Jesus. Turn your attention on Him instead of on your hurts and offenses. Let go of those things that will destroy your heart. Break down those walls that you’ve built for protection and let the power of the Holy One breathe new life into you today.
Blessings to you all dear ones,