Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Prov 4:23
Keep your heart right. Easy words to say, so much harder to do…especially if someone has hurt and betrayed you or hurt someone you love.
I’m writing these blogs, not to dredge up the past, but to share what God has done in my life to bring me to a place of complete freedom and wholeness…where what I have been through is NOT my identity and where the past is just that…the past…which has no power over me. God wants to bring us all to that place of freedom…
And it all starts with the heart.
When my marriage ended, I was faced with many choices but there was one thing I knew I had no choice about…I had to forgive my husband. As a Christian who’d grown up in a loving home and in church my whole life hearing many a word about forgiveness…I couldn’t really pretend I didn’t know any better! As much as I would have liked to have justified and indulged myself in feeling angry and vindictive out of my pain and brokenness, here’s what I quickly realised – if I was going to call myself a Christian…I had to act like one! If I wanted God to make me whole and bless my life, then I had no choice but to forgive.
Forgiveness is not an optional extra…it’s the very core of keeping our heart right before God.
When we intentionally forgive the person who hurt us, we’re allowing God to bring the best out in us and keep our hearts and lives flowing with goodness, grace and blessing. Likewise, when we don’t forgive, we will find bitterness, resentment and vengefulness taking hold of our heart and then flowing into and toxifying our lives.
I love how The Message paraphrases Matthew 5:43-45 (Jesus speaking) “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.” I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.”
Through my divorce and the years to follow I would pray and bless my ex-husband and his partner. It’s actually really hard to hold a grudge against people that you’re praying for and asking God to bless because God literally changes your heart towards them. Trust me, there were some days I may have prayed a blessing through gritted teeth haha! But seriously, doing this totally kept my heart on track.
Forgiveness is not condoning behaviour or saying what you did to me is okay, and it’s not necessarily reconciliation. It’s about the state of our heart.…even if the other party is not sorry or deserving. You may not feel you are able to forgive that person but you can! As I’ve said before, God doesn’t ask us to do something He doesn’t give us the grace for. Forgiveness not only brings freedom, joy and wholeness, it may just turn the whole situation around. Who knows what God can do when our hearts are right with Him?!
Keeping our hearts right is a daily (sometimes hourly!) decision. It’s choosing to forgive over and over again. It’s guarding our hearts from bitterness, anger and resentment by blessing those who’ve done us wrong. It may take swallowing some pride but, I can honestly say, the reward is so worth it.