The burden of unforgiveness…

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Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

V.29 directs that no “evil talk” should come from the mouths of believers. What does that mean, exactly? Could mean any number of things if you ask me. But then the verse goes on, “but only what is useful for building up”. One can assume, then, that the evil Paul writes about is that which does NOT build up, but that tears down/separates/divides.

Unity is a precious thing that can be hard to achieve, but easy to lose. In the case of Christians, unity is a gift from God, made possible by the grace and mercy which God first showed us through Jesus. This does not mean that Christians won’t do or say hurtful things to one another or to others, but that by the power of the Spirit we are given power to forgive others as God forgave us first.

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Sometimes it’s really hard.

I was talking with a young woman recently who shared with me some ways she felt betrayed and undermined by people she trusted, people who were part of the church she attended at the time. She is grateful for God’s forgiveness, but struggles to really let go of the hurt others did to her years ago. Even though the offenders likely never give it a second thought, she can’t seem to leave it in the past. Anger stirs in her when she thinks about it. It’s like an emotional boat anchor, weighing her down. Unforgiveness might be the most common thing I know of that keeps us from living the life God intends for us.

32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Do you have something like that in your past? A deep hurt you can’t seem to let go of? If you do, you’re not alone. Trying harder to put it behind you may not be the answer. Maybe it’s time to ask God to do in you what you cannot do for yourself. Lord let it be so. Amen.

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