Colossians 3:7-10 (New International Version)
7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
My husband and I were part of a young married class at a wonderful church during the first years we were married. Many in the class had come out of the singles class, where some of us had found our mates. Now several of us were starting families together. The year that I became pregnant with my son, we all joked about something being in the water. Every few weeks, it seemed, another couple would announce that they were expecting. It was an exciting time for all of us venturing into the waters of the unknown ocean of parenthood.
I am ashamed to say it, but one of my greatest regrets in friendship occurred during the twelve months after all our babies were born. I found out that we had not been invited to one of the birthday parties for one of the babies. I was shocked and hurt. When I found out who had been invited, I let myself wallow in bitterness that we had been left out of the party's festivities. Really! I fumed. How could they have been so thoughtless? Well, that just shows how important our friendship is to them. Fine, two can play that game. This changes everything. An iron will had entered my soul. From that point on, I proudly wore the huge chip of my offended attitude on my shoulder. It was impossible to miss for the one who I was offended with. My bitterness over not being invited to a one-year-old's birthday systematically destroyed my once good friendship with his mother.
My beloved sisters...what have we lost because we have allowed ourselves to be offended with someone else? Do you know that nothing pleases Satan more than dividing the children of God? We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us, yet we can choose not to let Him help us forgive others. I believe nothing grieves the heart of God more than when we choose to be bitter with those we call brothers and sisters.
Satan gets a foothold when we allow a bitter root to grow up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15). Is there someone in our lives that we have allowed ourselves to grow distant from over an offense? I don't believe I ever brought up my hurt to my friend. She must have wondered what in the world had gotten into me. Her hurt was possibly as great as my own. But I was the guiltier party. She had every right to invite whom she wanted to for her son's celebration. I squashed whatever blessing could have come to both of us through our friendship.
I wanted to share with you something that blows my mind every time I read this verse and its explanation from my NIV Study Bible in Ephesians 3:10-11
[God's] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the explanation given by my study Bible of verse 10:
It is a staggering thought that the church on earth is observed, so to speak, by these spiritual powers and that to the degree the church is spiritually united it portrays to them the wisdom of God.
NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995.
Every time, girlfriends, that our spirits are offended by someone else and we choose to love them anyway, we are making a mockery of the demonic forces in the heavenly places. Why? Because we do not have any power on our own to not be offended. Our forgiveness and love show, in a most powerful way, that we are new creations in Christ. What reward do we have for not gossiping about and slandering those around us? Satan and the demons are confounded by that behavior and our great God is glorified immensely. We are promised the favor of the Lord Himself. He sees whether we have a legitimate reason to be offended, unlike my experience, and will reward us for choosing to forgive anyway. There is hardly anything more damaging to the powers of darkness than when we stand together in unity. May God grant us His ability to live beyond our offenses and choose to love anyway.
Jesus, You have called us to unity. Lord, convict us of what keeps us from true fellowship from others. Help our friendships be real because You are at the center of them. May we forgive easily and love even more. Help us to remember the incredible results of obeying You in this area.