by Pastor Tim Burt
Working Through Anger and Forgiveness God’s Way
Over the past two writings, I’ve talked about the root of anger and what it takes to resolve it, and how unforgiveness is not an option that God allows and why. Today I want to talk more about strategies and heart attitudes to develop that might help reduce, resolve, and eliminate most of the conflict that leads to anger and unforgiveness in your life.
As a married man I can tell you that Renee and I have both been mad or upset with each other plenty of times over the course of our marriage. Especially in the earlier years. Because we’ve put into practice all I have written about the past two days, we seldom ever have disagreements or conflict anymore. That is such a blessing to us because we know we are going to live our later years (by God’s grace) in love and in peace. But in those earlier years, as we were maturing in the instruction of God’s word, there were times of anger and conflict where we didn’t FEEL like forgiving each other. Even so, we did. We stopped and apologized to each other, and forgave each other. Why did we? Because God taught us it wasn’t an option. We really wanted to do what He instructed. Non-Christians don’t think like this. They don’t have God to yield and submit their will to. They only have their anger and unforgiveness. Being able to let God’s word be the authority in your life and submitting to it, is freedom! It paves the way for forgiveness, restoration, and healing.
Why else did Renee and I forgive each other? Because He has forgiven us as sinners. Romans 4:8 (TLB) “Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.”
Some people get offended all day long over a myriad of issues. Almost anything bugs them. This is the person who has not learned to forgive in the way I wrote about yesterday. First you have to take the stand to always forgive. Then you have to let the Holy Spirit teach you the attitude of knowing that you can be just as offensive to others as they can be to you. Maybe more so. You have to look at others through God’s eyes of love and then develop a new attitude of overlooking the petty offences that occur throughout your day. Petty offenses need to become non-offenses. People drive differently from you. People think differently from you. People’s emotional responses are different from yours. People’s work ethic is different from yours. People will offend you easily if you allow simple things to bug you. They will help build up your bank of unforgiveness and nurture your anger problem.
The opposite is forgiving the second the offense comes and anger bubbles up. Forgive and pray for them sincerely. God, please help that person become a better and more considerate driver… and me too Lord! Sincere prayer breaks the back of anger and forgiveness demolishes it! Take this approach and you’ll stop making mountains out of molehill. You won’t even remember small offenses. That is where 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) comes alive and understandable to you! “Love… is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Offenses happen accidentally and often. Forgive and forget. Forget that which isn’t important but try to work through those issues that are. When working through issues with others, try to talk through them calmly and rationally. Discuss them with your focus only on the offense and the plan to resolve it and go forward. Never rabbit trail to past or other offensives or you will destroy your efforts and make things worse.
And finally, forgiveness is often an act of faith. it needs to be accompanied by corresponding words and actions. If we forgive others understanding God’s love and willingness to forgive us, it makes our attempts easier. The cool thing is, as we do forgive by faith and then act on it, our emotions soon follow. Emotions always follow your faith so let your faith lead! Soon you’ll begin to feel the forgiveness that might have only started out as an act of faith.
What about those times when abuse is repeated over and over again and it seems impossible to continue to forgive? We are still required to forgive. We aren’t required to stay in a toxic situation or relationship or proximity of a person. Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.” Whether we choose to stay in a relationship or not, forgiveness is not an option. There will be some instances where you will feel the need to put distance or space between each other for healing to happen. If that is what it takes, love from a distance. For everyone else, forgive and learn to love with God’s love up close.
Break this into a plan and you will get angry less and forgive consistently. You’ll eventually experience greatly improved relationships, less conflict, and a peace and joy that will fill much more of your life. And your intimacy with God will grow throughout the entire process! You’ll love it!
1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV) “Love never fails…”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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