I love the analogy of a frame holding glass. A frame can hold clear glass- making it a window, or it can hold mirrored glass – making it a mirror.
When you look at a framed mirror, you see a reflection of yourself.
When you look at a window, you see through the window – to others.
In this big wide world, wouldn’t it be great if we were all window people? You know, people who look past themselves to the world outside. People who were others-centered and not self-centered.
Others-centered is what Divine Love is all about. See here and here and here for more about that.
1 Corinthians 13 verse 5 tells us that Divine Love is not self-seeking. It doesn’t demand its own way. It listens before answering. It appreciates before expecting. It approves before rejecting. It offers before even knowing the cost. It looks for a connection when everyone else looks away.
That’s what Jesus did. That’s what Jesus does.
He gave His own life for others. He gives all good-for-us things to those who belong to Him. He looks for a connection with others, waiting for them to respond. He knew the great cost and paid it anyway.
1 Corinthians 13 verse 5 also tells us that Divine Love is not easily angered. It is not chronically irritable. It does not allow itself to be provoked. It does not pack its angry eyes – just in case. (Please see the movie Toy Story for reference)
Divine Love gives up its right to be irritated and angry because it cares more about relationships than its own rights. It cares more about being right with God than being right.
That’s not to say that anger is never appropriate. Jesus himself was angry on occasion – and rightly so. We should be angry about certain things or else we would just be callous and apathetic. People – including each and every one of us – do bad things that hurt others and it’s OK to be angry at that.
Where we go wrong is letting that anger cause us to sin and become a part of our everyday life. (Ephesians 4:26)
When we let our anger cause us to hurt other people – we’ve sinned. When we let anger become a long-term simmering emotion instead of dealing with the offense and the feelings promptly- we’ve sinned. When we let anger control us – we’ve sinned.
Seriously, neglected anger allows the enemy to gain a foothold in our life. (Ephesians 4:26-27) Nobody wants that!
Along with anger, 1 Corinthians also tells us that Divine Love keeps no record of wrongs. So many times anger and record-keeping go hand in hand. We tend to hang onto memories of being wronged and it just causes the anger to flare up – many times in the most unexpected times and places.
God tells us to deal with our anger (Ephesians 4:26) and keep short accounts (Colossians 3:13). He wants us to have lives that are full of healthy ingredients like love and peace and joy instead of anger and unforgiveness which are like taking a poison that slowly kills us.
What do the offenses of others have to do with me being self-focused? “They hurt me!”, you exclaim. I know, I know! They hurt you, but hanging onto that thought just hurts you over and over and over again. It robs you of what God has planned for you. It keeps you self focused because you can only think of the offense done to you.
A long time ago, I realized that forgiving someone didn’t mean that they were getting off the hook. It didn’t mean that what they did was OK.
What it did mean was that, if I released the anger and unforgiveness, I could be free to experience the good stuff that God had waiting for me to enjoy. It meant I could move on and not drink the poison that I had been ingesting.
If you’ve been struggling with anger and unforgiveness, please know that you can get rid of it – but not on your own. You’ll need the Creator of Divine Love to show you the way. The Lord will walk with you through the process and yes, it is a process.
He could remove the anger and unforgiveness immediately if He chose to, but I’ve found that He usually has a more detailed plan. As He walks you through the process, He grows you and teaches you more than you could ever imagine.
It takes submission on our part to let go of our rights to anger and record-keeping and put our eyes on our guide. I wish I could tell you that I never let old hurts hurt me or unforgiveness rumble around in my mind, but they still threaten me occasionally.
My job is to release it immediately and give thanks that God has given me the tools I need to combat it. He has shown me that He has better things for me to do. Amazingly, one of those things is to pray for the person who hurt me. Yup, outwardly focus and take my attention off of myself and ask God to bless the other person. See, God grows you and teaches you more than you could ever imagine when you allow Him to work in your life.
I’m telling you, by giving up the yucky stuff that had been poisoning you, you will have a renewed ability to process healthy and beneficial thoughts and ideas. When you ask God for clarity in situations, you’ll be able to receive it because you won’t be distracted by the rehashing of every bad thing that ever happened to you. Your prayer time with God will be richer because you’ll be listening instead of complaining.
People are still going to bump into me and hurt me. Sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposefully. Either way, I want to look at that bump as a speed bump and not a sink-hole in my life.
Does anger or unforgiveness have a foothold in your life? Take it to God and ask Him to help you give it up. He’s ready and waiting for your request and has so much better stuff planned for you. Please let me know how I can pray for you as you go through this.