For years, I was an angry Christian. Very angry.
I felt that nothing was going my way. People disappointed me, hurt me, and didn’t meet my expectations. My heart had been broken. I didn’t want to be around anyone. When I saw people praising the Lord I thought were hypocrites I got even more livid. All I could see were the flaws in people. Fake Christians everywhere!! Pomposity and arrogance abounding in the church! (Notice all the I’s and me’s, not to mention my own arrogance).
I have to be truthful. That was me. But there came a time when I had to fall on my face before God because I didn’t know why my heart was getting harder, and my joy was drying up. Why was I so angry? This isn’t how a Christian should feel!
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I was holding unforgiveness in my heart. Yes, I said to myself “I forgive them”, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was holding on to the hurt. I wanted to hold on to it because I felt that if I hurt long enough it would hurt the other person. But when they moved on with their lives I was still hurting and they seemed happy. Then I got angry all over again.
True forgiveness comes in two parts. First to truly forgive anyone who has hurt you, you must remember the total and complete forgiveness given by Christ.
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
How can I be a Christian and not forgive after the price Christ paid for my redemption! Nothing I did or could ever do out of my own “goodness” could validate my receiving that gift. He did it simply out of His love for me! If I call myself a Christian, I must follow His example.
But the second part is where I believe many Christians can slip up, and why I was still angry. I didn’t recognize that…
The person that hurt or betrayed us may have confessed to the Lord and received forgiveness, and we may never know.
Sometimes, people that hurt us are so ashamed that they could never face us with an apology. But in the knowledge of what they have done they are convicted and they go before the Father to receive His grace. In the sight of God, they are forgiven and the matter is settled. They cannot be held accountable by us because they have been judged and found righteous by God through the confession of their sins.
That is why it is so important for us to forgive and mean it! There will be times when people will hurt us-but to forgive as Christ did, we must love them with forgiveness, just as He asked the Father to forgive His tormentors on the Cross! Remember, He said that they did not know what they were doing!
Many times this is a great suffering, because sometimes people hurt us on purpose. Sometimes they do apologize, but there is painful emotional residue. But these moments of forgiveness give us a glimpse of the love Christ has for us. We share in His passion when we forgive sacrificially.
When I finally received this into my heart, I became freer than I have ever been. I stopped being an angry Christian!
If you are an angry Christian, go before the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you if you are holding unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness is the shackle we put on our own feet.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.