Only two things trip me in my Christian walk—really, being totally honest here.

I’ve been walking with the Lord for a long time, and I don’t want to brag, but only two things trip me: people and circumstances.

You know what I’m talkin’ about.

Have you noticed that people usually cause the circumstances?

My sole desire is to obey the Lord and please him in everything. And then I cross paths with someone determined to mess up my day, leaving me to choose how to deal with my anger and hurt.

God gave us a plan for overcoming hurt. He called it forgiveness.

I know a lot about forgiveness. When I was growing up, my family hardly ever missed church on Sunday. I heard much teaching and preaching about forgiveness. Later I began teaching a Sunday School class, telling others what I knew about forgiveness.

When I started writing for the local newspaper, a large audience read my weekly column, often filled with wise words about forgiveness.

I know Jesus said the Father will forgive us if we forgive others.

I’ve read about that conversation between Peter and Jesus. The disciple asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” He surely thought that was pretty generous.

Jesus wiped that satisfied smile right off Peter’s face. He said, “Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22 KJV).

That indicates forgiveness is to be unlimited.

Thinking about this one day while nursing an old emotional wound, I couldn’t name one person I’d ever truly forgiven.

Huge clue: remembering the offense still caused pain.

God began bringing to memory a lifetime of offenses, large and small. Many of the people who had wounded me were out of sight and out of mind. Occasionally a hurtful incident long buried would resurface when the offender passed through my life again.

I still harbored bitterness toward a few people who were already in Heaven!

Then I read this, from the pen of Apostle Paul, who experienced immeasurable pain from relationships: “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16).

That means, to keep a clean slate with the Lord, I must go to him confessing my wrong thoughts and bad behavior. I hate it every time.

God gave us plenty of instruction to help us please him in daily relationships.

“…take captive every thought to make it obedient of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” (1 Peter 4:8 Amplified).

“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12).

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (see Ephesians 4:24-32).

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

“…If anyone desires to be my disciple, let him deny himself (disregard, lose sight of and forget himself and his own interests) and take up his cross and follow me (cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also)” (Matthew 16:24 Amplified).

Aren’t these instructions basic criteria for Christ-followers? Wouldn’t they work for all relationships?

I need not allow people and circumstances to trip me in my walk with the Lord. He’s provided a better way.

Making this my daily prayer is a good beginning. “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5).

Please tell me how the Lord has intervened and changed a difficult relationship. And I’d appreciate your sharing this with your friends!

© Dianne Barker 2019

(Scriptures from NIV unless noted.)

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