“But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.” – Genesis 33:4 NLT
"Fairness is often my standard. Justice is God's standard," one of my favorite Bible teachers shared on a recent podcast. I stopped what I was doing, paused the recording, and replayed her last statement repeatedly. There was no denying it; those words hit me right between the eyes. In an attempt to shut down any further feelings of conviction, choosing to ignore rather than investigate why this simple statement struck a nerve.
Has that ever happened to you?
- Your preacher said something in service that pierced your heart, but rather than go deeper into the source, you choose to shut your Bible and don't open it back up until the following week.
- A friend shared something she felt the Lord was drawing her attention. You immediately commiserate with her, but that would require you to make a chance, and well, you aren't ready for that-so you work to forget the conversation.
- You see a Bible verse posted at your doctor's office. You can't help but think that the Lord was speaking to you through the poster, but you shake it off as just a coincidence.
Friend, I get it; I've been there. Shamefully, there have been times that I wave away the Spirit, knowing that He is working my heart to produce spiritual fruit, life-change, or elicit a confession. But, mercifully, there have been other times when I've leaned into the Spirit's prompting, working to uncover the message He wanted me to hear.
Unable to re-focus my attention through busyness, I plopped down in my favorite chair and snuggled in to catch up on some shows. Before I could locate the remote, a friend from my accountability group sent a message about the day's Bible reading. We were reading through the Bible together in our women's ministry and set up accountability groups to help us process and discuss what we've learned.
"Can y'all believe how Esau forgave Jacob and let go of all resentment towards him? Jacob didn't deserve such a warm welcome, but that's pretty cool that Esau let go of all resentment for the sake of the relationship."
You've got to be kidding me. Okay, Lord, I surrender.
The thing is, I knew what the Lord wanted to draw my attention to; I just didn't want to deal with my feelings of resentment. A few weeks prior, something happened between a friend and me. Only a few days after the incident, we'd reconciled, swapping "I'm sorry" and sharing forgiveness. Outwardly, it would appear I'd moved on, but inside, I was still annoyed. If I was honest, I felt it wasn't fair that my friend didn't have any consequences for her actions against me, yet I was still called to forgive and move on.
As I reviewed the text in Genesis about the two brothers, one who tricked, manipulated, and deceived the other yet was wholeheartedly forgiven, the Holy Spirit began to work on my heart. While God disapproved of Jacob's sin against Esau, it wasn't Esau's place to seek revenge–or justice. Esau was called to forgive; God is the one responsible for judgment. And why are we called to forgive even the most unjust or unfair acts against us? Because we have been forgiven– we are sinners who openly rebelled and rejected our maker. We may never forget the sin against us, but we can forgive, trading resentment for reconciliation.
I am grateful that the Lord used a social media post and a sister in Christ to grab my attention and drive me to true reconciliation with my friend. That day, I released a heart full of resentment that weighed me down. May we be open to the prompting of the Spirit in our lives as He continues to make us more like Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for being God of abundant grace. We have received the gift of redemption, not because we deserve it, but because we are merciful and desire to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). We ask that we freely forgive those who have wronged us. Help us to move towards reconciliation, leaving the "score-keeping" and "just desserts" to You who judges righteously. We pray that we can put on the mindset of Christ, humble ourselves, think of others' needs over our own, and be willing to forgive with the hope of forgetting the offense. Help us restore and renew broken relationships, doing our best to live peacefully with everyone.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
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