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IS UNFORGIVENESS SEEKING REVENGE?


www.moodyradio.org
Anne Graham Lotz, called “the best preacher in the family” by her father, Billy Graham, is one of my favorite Bible teachers.

Years ago, I had the privilege of hearing her speak at the Ohio Christian Education Association Conference (OCEA) in Akron, Ohio. Since then, I have admired this godly woman, and if ever there was a teacher after whom I would want to pattern a ministry, it would be her.

Recently Anne was interviewed on Moody Radio’s Equipped with Chris Brooks. https://www.moodyradio.org/programs/equipped-with-chris-brooks/2019/03/03.26.2019-wounded-by-gods-people/

In her interview about her newest book, WOUNDED by God’s People, Anne said, “Sometimes our means of revenge is to withhold forgiveness.”

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www.annegrahamlotz.org

I found Anne’s words unsettling, and so profound I had to write them down. Around the same time as this interview, our pastor was preaching about forgiveness and unforgiveness. While I was happy to receive his teaching, I kept reflecting on Anne’s words. I probably should have known God was preparing me for His discipline and correction in my thinking, but I didn’t.

Several weeks later, out of the blue, the Lord triggered a memory, and not a good one. There it was slapping me in the face along with Anne’s words, and the scriptures that had been the focus of our pastor’s sermons, “…forgive as Christ has forgiven you.”[1]

Believe me, I did not want to revisit it or dredge up anything. I had buried the incident, and it didn’t seem to matter anymore. However, when I attempted to stuff it down, the emotions of that day rushed at me. I felt God say, “I’m cleaning house, and you need to deal with this.”

Did I repent immediately and humbly forgive? No, I started to rationalize and justify what I had done. I believed the other person was wrong, and it was her response to the situation that caused the infraction.

The Holy Spirit stopped me right there. He showed me my part in this, and that my thinking was wrong. Although the other person may have reacted out of greed and selfishness, it did not make what I did completely right. My intentions were good. My method and attitude, not so good.

What I thought was righteous indignation on my part, was in reality, anger and unforgiveness. Wow. Talk about a shock. God really has a way of cutting us to the core.

Even if this person never sees my side; even if she feels I was totally in the wrong, and that her reaction was correct, I have to be right with God. I cannot control what she does, but I can control me. My relationship with my heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the most important relationship I have. And, like God said, “It’s time to deal with it.” So, help me to learn, O Lord.

My loving Father showed me Anne Graham Lotz was correct when she said unforgiveness is our way of seeking revenge. Now I understand why her words shook me. This is what I had been doing all along, and I had no idea.

God says, “Vengeance is Mine...I will repay.”[2] I need to forgive and leave it with Him.

So, I repented for my sin, my part, my anger, and for seeking revenge in my unforgiveness.

Because of what my Lord and Savior did for me 2,000 years ago, God forgave me, and I am clean. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive us of our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[3]

Almighty God also helped me to forgive her fully, and to love her in Christ. Nevertheless, that wasn’t enough; I had to write an apology. My witness must be a good one, no matter how long it is in coming.

Groveling isn’t fun. Knowing I was wrong in this situation isn’t either. I thought she was the only one at fault and I was OK with that. But God is good. He “…demonstrates His…love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[4]

Yep, Jesus died for ALL my sin, even that one! Praise God!



[1] Colossians 3:13
[2] Romans 12:19
[3] I John 1:9
[4] Romans 5:8

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