Practicing what we preach is sometimes the hardest part of being a child of God. I realize that living an exemplary life is the greatest Bible we can give others to read so I try to let my personal life speak loud and clear. I had to deal with this aspect in terms of drinking poison or not recently.
I had an incident not too long ago, where some real hurtful lies were told on me and unfavourable remarks were passed against my ministry. I had been praying about confronting the person responsible but still was not sure because I had not totally received an answer from the Lord about it. Nonetheless, I decided to do so because I was really unsettled in my spirit concerning the entire episode. I knew I would see the person at a particular service I had to attend so I prayed again and planned that after the service, we would surely natter about the matter. I went inside sat and prepared to listen to the word when I got a bombshell. Guess who was the speaker? Good Lord! I could not believe it. I began to twist and turn in my seat. The whole incident began to churn in my heart and my face immediately revealed it. My breathing became long and gaspy. My face half wrinkled and my brows knitted tighter than a grandmother’s sweater of love for a grandchild. Oh Jesus!
When we were told to stand and receive the speaker I unwillingly and unenthusiastically stood to my feet all the time not facing the person because I really did not want to look in the person’s face. It was hard, so hard. All the time my thoughts were raging “This person does not deserve my standing ovation because this person is a wicked, evil liar”. I stood nonetheless. Then we were told to put our hands together to welcome the speaker. Arrgghh. Good Lord! SERIOUSLY! I was boiling to my bones. Then I remembered that people are always watching me and my facial expressions wherever I go. My husband is my protector in many respects. As I mature in the Lord, he helped my facial expressions and protected me and a speaker by whispering “Baby your face is not saying something nice. Please fix it”. So I recognized that especially young people would watch me intensely in their moments of insecurity and uncertainty. They once told me that when they are doubtful if a person is “right or wrong” they would look at me and depending on the look on my face they would respond accordingly. That was news to me then. I was really horrified because I did not know my face gave away so much information. Therefore since that day I developed a neutral look so they can listen for themselves and deduce whether or not a speaker is “right or wrong”. This day I was totally caught off guard. Oh geez, what if they’re seeing my face they would know I disapproved of the speaker. So I masked my feelings and clapped with a little more soul all the while really mad in my heart. I had poured out the poison and was sipping it bit by bit. They weren’t huge gulps just sips like you do your hot coffee. That kills even slower with more sting in every sip.
When I sat, I began to feel the pricking of the Holy Spirit. I sighed and began to pray. “Oh Father, I know my behavior is at this moment quite ungodly. I am not displaying the righteousness of God. I really need your help. I need to forgive this person but it feels so awful for all the wrongs that was done to me I really don’t want to forgive but I know I need to so please, please, please help me”. I pleaded. I was just through saying the last word of the prayer when the person acknowledged my presence. “It’s very good to have Pastor Lewinson here today. Welcome Pastor”. I half smiled and waved to the congregation. I thought “Just Kill Me Already Why Don’t You”. I began to pray again. “Father please, pretty please help me put my feelings aside so I can listen to the Word and hear what You may have to say today”. I took a long deep breath, held my head up and looked towards the podium. I said in my heart “I am going to listen and behave no matter how I feel or the nasty things I think about this person. I am going to listen and have a good attitude”. I felt like something was churning in my stomach when I thought it. So I said it again but this time out under my breath “I AM GOING TO BEHAVE MYSELF AND LISTEN”. I sighed again and put my kicking, screaming body under subjection. The poison had begun to leak from my breakfast. Boy it was as painful as the aches I feel regarding the things the person said about me and the ministry. I fastened my eyes in the direction of the podium and decided I will listen.
I really did not know when exactly I stopped hurting. I just realized that I was no longer forcing myself to listen or smile and even laugh at the jokes that were cracked. All I know was that the pain in my heart had subsided and I no longer felt like I wanted to strangle the person. After the person was through and I noticed my reactions, I thought “wow the human will along with the power of God can do great wonders”.
Listen friend, I know that it’s hard to forgive but trust me, it is much better. Less stress on your heart, mind and body; Literally! Not only should we do so because Jesus loves us enough to forgive us in spite of all our sins but simply because it is healthier. Do not allow anyone to cause you to have poison for breakfast, lunch or dinner because remember they won’t die – you will.