Dealing with the Wounds
Dealing with the Wounds
Words of Faith 5-2-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Jesus laid out a revolutionary plan. He suggested that when faced with oppression and conflict there is a revolutionary response. Love your enemy. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Turn away from those who strike you. Give to those who ask. Do as you would have others do to you.
The problem is that even with these Kingdom alternatives we can be wounded in the process.
One of the difficulties is that our modern Christian culture often portrays the new life in Christ as a sort of Christian "Action Hero". If we are a good Christian, we are strong, fight the good fight, and never get wounded. And if we do get wounded we don't need to tell anyone... we just sew ourselves up in a cave. Such a view is not only a fantasy it is a dangerous lie.
There is the very real possibility that when you turn the other cheek you may get another bruised cheek! The truth is that loving your enemy will sometimes allow them just the edge they need to hurt you. There is no promise here that turning the other cheek will change the offender only that it ushers in something of the Kingdom of God. We are left with the truth that wounds are a part of life. There is no promise that we will be protected from all wounds. Actually the promise of Jesus in God's Word is that we will endure hardship and persecution:
-- "Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town." Matthew 23:34
-- "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them." Mark 13:9
-- "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." John 15:18-19
-- "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God." John 16:1-2
If we ever had the idea that being a follower of Jesus would make us popular, or would cause people to like us or treat us well, then we should dispel that myth! The truth is that if we follow Jesus we very likely will get wounded.
Frankly wounds are a part of war and a part of life. Even the best soldiers get wounded. Most of the Apostles were martyred even though operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the wounds are just from life circumstances but we carry those wounds around for a long time.
Wounds can actually get in the way of what God wants for us in our lives. Such wounds are usually not the sort of thing we can sew up and heal on our own. Wounds are not a sign of weakness. Even if we have faith to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy, there are other darts that come our way, sometimes from people we love, people we are close to, people we trust and even from the church itself. Many wounds can only be classified as "friendly fire," an odd term because no wound feels "friendly".
Getting wounded is a reality in life. The question is not, Will you be wounded? The question is: Will you heal? Christians are not wounded any less than anyone else and perhaps even more! But we do have an option to be healed. So where does that start?
The people that Jesus was talking to were a wounded people. They had been oppressed by the Romans and betrayed by their religious leaders in the Temple and judged as "guilty" by their Synagogue Leaders. They had tried to find healing in God but were told over and over again that they were not good enough or rich enough or holy enough by the rules.
When we are wounded like that, our flesh says "Condemn them! Judge them! Condemn those who wound us. Get even!" The word "condemn" here was a battle term that means literally in the Greek "to burn to the ground". It described a sort of scorched earth policy.
We may not do that literally, but still in our minds there are those wounds in life that cause us to burn people to the ground in the landscape of our minds and souls. In our hearts, we may practice a "scorched earth policy" toward past relationships that have wounded us.
To this, Jesus says, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." There is only one answer to the wound. There is only one thing that can begin the healing process. There is only one salve that can bring the start of healing... and that is forgiveness.
We know that the giving and receiving of forgiveness is related. But Jesus puts the responsibility for initiative on us to start the process. Jesus does not say "when you are forgiven, forgive others." Jesus does not say "when someone is sorry or asks for forgiveness, then forgive them." We are to take initiative. Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Now, is Jesus saying that our eternal forgiveness is based upon our first forgiving others? I don't think so. The whole counsel of Scripture witnesses to the unconditional offer of forgiveness to those who will receive. But Jesus made it clear that the giving and receiving of forgiveness are tied together. The two are related. We might recognize that in many wounds we bear some fault... at least in our reaction, our anger, or our desire for vengeance. When we take initiative we start a new cycle-- a cycle of forgiveness rather than a cycle of bitterness-- we begin to heal.
Remember, Jesus said that we can break the cycle of abuse when we choose a Kingdom alternative-- Give, bless, pray, turn. That stops a negative cycle. Now Jesus is saying that we can start the cycle of healing when we take initiative to forgive, and what we receive is wonderful.
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is choosing to willingly bear the pain of another person's offense. We bear the pain of offense regardless. But when we choose to willingly bear that pain we begin to get better instead of getting bitter. We choose to no longer judge and leave that to God. We choose to no longer condemn that person even in our heart. We choose to allow for the possibility of God restoring a right relationship between you and that person.
Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Reconciliation is a process that involves dialogue, confession and forgiveness on two sides. Forgiveness is not reconciliation but it opens the door. Sometimes reconciliation never happens because one side is unwilling or sees no fault. But it only can begin when one side takes initiative. You cannot control the actions of another person. But in forgiving you can control your side.
So where are you in this? Have you been wounded? Have you been operating with a scorched earth policy? Do you sometimes burn a relationship to the ground rather than choose the Kingdom response? Now is the time to deal with the wound and heal from the wound.
Father God, give me the strength and wisdom to make Kingdom responses even in those situations where I have been wounded painfully. Heal me from the hurt and make me into a agent of Your healing in others. Teach me how to not judge. Show me the walk that does not condemn. Show me the way of forgiveness. In Jesus' name.