Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 18, 2016

let loose your grip

In a window seat on a five-hour flight last month, I realized quickly there may be no way to exit my aisle. Seated next to me was a man about 6’2” and 230lbs. who obviously knew how to relax on a long flight.  Picture this: the neck cushion went on, then the eye mask, followed by his sun glasses, and to top it off … ear plugs. Without much effort, he was in REM sleep and I was stuck. About two hours into the flight, I got tired of my plight and gave a little twitch that thankfully awakened my Rip Van Winkle friend. Now you may think badly of me, but it was time to stretch out and take a bathroom break.  Eventually, my seatmate became a stellar communicator and we enjoyed the last couple of hours of the long journey.

My flying difficulty mirrors situations that happen to almost everyone, every day. The mirror I am speaking of is a choice.  Countless times every day you and I are confronted with decisions on how to respond “in the moment.” Do we get angry, gossip a little, expand the truth, ignore dealing with an issue? The list of choices is seemingly endless.  How often have we wished we could have a re-do on a choice that was made?  And unquestionably, wrong choices hinder relationships.

My personal reading took me to a verse of Scripture this morning that bleeds with choice. It is a verse I had read many times before, but never really considered with much depth. Before sharing the verse, I would ask you to consider how often you are confronted with minor offenses. At work or at home, do you ever get the sense that someone is taking advantage of you, ignoring your (valid)  opinions, trying to make you look bad, and generally just being very selfish? To sum it up, people take advantage of you … and your choice in response will matter!

The choices we make with the offenders are often the wrong ones. But, they are the ones being selfish, while we always put others first … At least, that is what we tell ourselves. All Christ-followers are challenged to live out our faith in the choices we make. And those choices don’t exclude offenders who take advantage of us. Proverbs 17:9 challenges us to look at how we respond when the inevitable offenses arise.  When reading the verse, ask yourself, “How do I respond when someone takes advantage of me?”

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
fasten on to a slight and — good-bye, friend!

It is certainly easy to say “Overlook an offense,” but our flesh cries out to hold a grudge.  I sense the true battle for Christ-followers is forgiving then releasing the offense. Consequently, we become offenders ourselves by responding in way that is not Christ-like. The result – friendships are wounded severely and sometimes die completely. When you and I forgive offenses and seek to value the offender, God is honored and relationships grow stronger. There may be someone who has taken advantage of you who comes to mind right now.  Will you lift them and their offense to the Father in forgiveness?  Will you let loose your grip on the slight?

Life is too short and precious to carry all the petty relational stresses that confront us daily.  A moment or day given away is truly gone … never to be recaptured. Discipline yourself by refusing to hold a grudge.  Forgive and release.

And by the way, choose your seats wisely!


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