It Took Only a Simple “Thank You”

Still in the midst of an ongoing problem with another believer, my bad thoughts were definitely having a negative effect on my attitude. What’s worse, I was making no effort to think differently, much less take those thoughts captive. At the same time, I was sinking fast and I knew it.

Yes, I had prayed concerning many different aspects of this dilemma, trying to remind myself the person was not the enemy. Sometimes I even interceded for them without any thought of our issues, only concerned for their needs as the Lord prompted me. I felt much better, much lighter, after praying that way. Before I realized it, though, I let my mind wander into the dark places again, and found myself trapped.

For some reason, this particular day was different. Though I was fully engaged in those negative thoughts, willfully rehearsing every real and perceived hurt, my spirit managed to speak above the din, asking the Lord for His help. And help He did.

“Thank You for forgiving them,” I heard myself say somewhat reluctantly.

When the reality of those words took hold in my brain, I repeated more emphatically, “Yes, thank You for forgiving them!”

It wasn’t a matter of my asking God to forgive them, for that was complete at the cross. Nor did I ask Him to help me forgive them, though He well knew I wasn’t doing so well with that. Actually, for just that reason – because He knew I was failing miserably at forgiving – He gave me just what was needed to find the absolute freedom of His forgiveness. I needed to see my offender the way He did – as another beloved child who needed the Savior. In that place, I was instantly thankful that He has forgiven both of us. Oh, the glorious freedom of the children of God!

Lest you think it’s all behind me now, that those thoughts no longer plague me, or that I immediately turn them away when they come to the surface, that isn’t the case. However, now I find a much easier return to freedom when I remember that simple “Thank You.”

Flawless, by Mercy Me, is so good I wanted to include it here, even though it’s not a perfect fit for the message. I hope it works its way into your heart as it has in mine.

Freely

Even though there’s always more to understand in the Bible, sometimes I just need the simplicity of it to wake me up; for example, when I read the story of Jesus sending out the twelve disciples in Matthew 10:5+.  Before He told them not to take any money or extra clothes with them, He said in verse 8, “Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.”  I was arrested by that simple statement.  You see, I needed to be reminded that I have not paid for the unconditional love that the Lord has lavished on me.  I have not paid for His mercy that is new every morning.  I have not paid for the complete forgiveness of all my sins – past, present, and future.  No, I have not paid for any of these things, and do not deserve them in the least, but I have freely received them as He has freely given them to me.

When I was brought to that place of remembrance and the resulting flood of thankfulness, I was moved out of the place of withholding unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness from people who “didn’t deserve it,” right into the place of freely giving those things without expecting anything in return.  It took me out of the position of trying to judge in God’s place and put me into the position of beloved child of God who leaves the judging to Him.  In other words, it put me back into freedom! 

Boy, do I need to be reminded of this lesson repeatedly.  The only things Jesus wanted the disciples to take with them was what they had freely received, without pay.  It’s His desire for us, as well.  So, when you find yourself in my place, not wanting to forgive, walk in love, or give mercy, maybe you just need to remember one simple word . . . freely!  Let it set you free once again, so you can help set others free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . .  Galatians 5:1