I was “dealing with some unforgiveness” recently. That’s church talk for “I was mad as a hornet and couldn’t get over it!” With an exclamation point!
Every day I worked through it in my mind. I hashed and re-hashed it, complaining to God about it - every day. I prayed it to death almost, because it surely wasn’t dead. When I felt the old ugly stirring coming up like a stomach virus, I prayed for God to take away the strong feelings I had and tried to think of happier things. By every evening, I felt like I had a handle on it. Until the next morning.
I have forgiven lots of stuff in my lifetime and thought I was a pretty good forgiver. The target of my “unforgiveness” hadn’t even hurt ME - they had hurt someone I love! Still…I was mad as a hornet!
I’m typically not an angry person. I don’t WANT to be angry. I WANT to be kind and loving-Jesus with skin on. Where did this keep coming from? The struggle was real.
So, I sat down to do my morning Bible reading. I needed it! I was in the middle of Beth Moore’s study on the book of James. The previous day’s lesson was about not showing favoritism. The day before that was about being devoted to Christ and not just being religious. I will admit I was looking forward to this one, too, glad to get that cloak of grudge-bearing off my mind.
Before I started, I asked the Lord to speak to me through His Word. And dadgum it, HE DID! He had it all planned. He was just waiting for me to sit down!
The first verse we were to turn to was Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” What the thunder?! I was SUPPOSED to be studying James-not Leviticus! And if that weren’t enough, the next passage was Matthew 22:37-40: “Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” I LOVE loving God! That’s a great verse! But that wasn’t all of it. It went on…“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” And then there’s that. Only the Law and the Prophets hung on that part. I had asked God to speak to me. Now He was raising His Voice.
In the study, Beth instructed me to turn to Romans 13:8-10. In case I was having trouble getting the point, it read: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” I have read Romans, but don’t ever remember that one being in there!
The next Scripture was Galatians 5:13-14: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Nothing unclear about that.
God’s word is alive and active, as mentioned in Hebrews 4:12. It surely was this morning! It is “sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” Yep, I was feeling it. It had cut me to the bone this morning! I was bleeding all over my couch!
The last part of Hebrews 4:12 (as if there needed to be more) says, “…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I read on to verse 13 hoping there would be a change in topic. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” Great.
Finally, in the study, we returned to James. At last! Our one Scripture from James today? “If you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well,” James 2:8.
Seems like the theme for the day was: 1. Love your neighbor. 2. Love God, and your neighbor as yourself. 3. Love one another. 4. Love your neighbor as yourself. 5. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight.
I sat in my housecoat bewildered. How could a Bible study written five years ago and an ancient text written over 2,000 years ago be so applicable to this very day in my life?! God’s Word IS alive! This medicine hadn’t tasted very good, but it was good for me.
I went straight to my bathroom and wrote “Love one another” on my mirror with a dry-erase marker.
Lord, I hear You! Help me to love You and love others like You love me!
Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.