I have been guilty of saying that I can’t stand the smell of onions, garlic, fish, etc. At some time during my life journey, I also have sinfully made a not so positive remark about another person.
I have personally experienced going to a restaurant where someone made an offensive remark about me because I am black. To seal their dislike, as I left the restaurant, I watched them break the glass from which I drank.
I frequently read stories where a person or persons make disrespectful remarks about others because they hate their religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. The world has become a battleground of hatred strewn with people wounded by bashing, name-calling, social media mudslinging, and character assassination.
As a believer in the Bible, I am told that mankind was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). What does that mean? Let’s start with God saw that everything He made was very good. (Genesis 1:31)
Mankind comes with a built-in space created by God to house goodness and his true self. So, how do I have the right to dislike someone who is from the same source as I am?
Moving past the original creation, I learn how Adam decided to question God’s warning about his death. Well, we all know how Adam’s free choice turned out. From that moment, he stepped into a world of ethical and physical evil. Man’s original nature, placed in him by God, is altered and feelings and emotions are now the life driver.
When the words, "I don’t like, I hate, or I can’t stand…” come from my mouth in referring to another person, I am saying I don’t like what you do, how you act, or what views you have that are different from mine. One of the biggest I don’t like remarks is, “I don’t like you because you are from a different racial background.”
Dislike originates in behavior as a root of fear, insecurity, and lack of faith in God. In fact, dislike is an action based on feelings and emotions. It is rooted in the way I act, conduct myself or function.
Dislike makes me act like I am buying produce at the supermarket. I can pick and choose the best fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, genuine love means I don’t get to pick and choose to whom I express God’s love. Developing genuine love (Christ’s love), means I replace the focus of my thoughts on the behavior I dislike, and allow my mind to be directed by the Holy Spirit.
Loving those whom you dislike brings the following benefits:
Learning to love those you don’t like takes patience, endurance, and faith. God’s timetable is perfect. The good news is that if you are a believer, you came equipped with these qualities.
When I was a child, my mother told me I had an intense relationship with one of my baby blankets. It was cotton with a satin border. Sleeping, eating, or playing my constant companion was always with me. As you might guess, it became pretty raunchy.
The satin was torn and faded from my constant sucking it, and it turned a shade of grey because it was so dirty. My mother tried bribing me, tricking me, offering me rewards to give up the blanket for a few minutes so she could wash it. It was a no-win situation. I would not let it go.
When someone hurts you deeply, it is like a deep cut from a knife blade. You carry your pain inside. You can’t see any blood, but your emotions are bleeding, and all is not well. You grab a pacifier to become your comforting companion. Unforgiveness becomes your binky.
You set up your wall of unforgiveness, and keep it with you all the time. It’s your defense to try to stop the bleeding, but it won’t erase the memory. Someone tells you just forget it and move on. What a holier than thou kind of statement! It has overtones of conceit and snobbishness and certainly does not make you feel better.
Have you ever felt hatred? Your mind is occupied with thoughts on how to get even. You want to hurt that person like they hurt you. You long to feel satisfied that you have gotten justice.
I am certain there are many reasons why you won’t forgive, divorce, bullying, parental abuse, physical and/or emotional abuse and on and on. You have a right to hold onto your bitterness, anger, and frustration--don’t you? If you answered yes, you have just scored a touchdown for self-pity.
Your choice to feel sorry for yourself is shortening your life’s journey and hinders your ability to share the gifts that God has placed in you, (creativity, resourcefulness, problem-solving, etc.). This choice prevents you from experiencing deep and lasting relationships and keeps your soul wrapped in bitterness.
Let me cut right to the heart of the matter where everything begins. Your "unforgiveness binky” will attach to your soul and will become torn, unsatisfying, and dark. You won’t like others, and you really won’t like yourself. How could you when you want another person to feel the same pain you feel?
When I found out my former husband molested my son I hated him enough to kill him. Instead, I grabbed my unforgiveness binky, created a cocoon and crawled into it. I would not forgive him, and nothing could change that; I was not going to let go of my binky.
One morning as I was praying I heard myself ask a question: How can I thank Christ for his forgiveness for my multiple screw-ups, yet refuse to pass over someone else’s offense?
Where justice truly begins:
Each day I remind myself that not only am I a vessel designed to carry out His purpose, so is everyone else. What wicked or painful event has He allowed during your spiritual walk?
You have my word, based on Scriptures, there is a balance of righteousness and justice. His outcome is always just. If you trust Him with long-term faith, you will get the benefit. Remember, you have already been forgiven.
A baby falls down over and over when learning to walk, but amazingly, always gathers the courage to try again. So it is with forgiveness. I missed the mark many times before I came close. Even now I keep pressing on toward the prize.
The unforgiving person is not the real you. Like iris’s sprouting through the snow, you will unlock the true you when you let your heart and the Spirit of Christ guide you on the road to forgiveness.
One morning a group of us were having coffee at the local coffee place when our conversation suddenly shifted to a discussion about the Bible. One of my colleagues abruptly stated, “Oh, I am not religious.” Immediately, everyone became quiet not quite knowing how to respond to this comment.
Actually, this is a pretty typical response when people are discussing spiritual issues. If you are a non-believer, you see any discussion related to God or the Bible as religious. If you are a Christian, you frequently refer to the Bible and God as the Christian religion.
The word religion is a major stumbling block to Bible-based belief. When the word religion is spoken by definition it means “a belief in a religious deity, god or gods;” in other words, it refers to no particular person or thing. It is open to interpretation.
Over the years, I became increasingly sensitive that Christianity is set apart from cults, pagan religions, and idol worship by more than a belief in a god. It is an expression of the nature and personality of love. It is a bond based on truth, light and the Spirit of love for mankind.
I am intimately linked to someone who unashamedly and at all times loves me and the world. He sees my unloveliness, yet knows my worth and values me for who I am and who I may become (Philippians 1:6).
I am truly the object of His love. He is affectionate to me, shows interest in me, cares for me, sacrifices for me, strengthens, forgives, heals, protects and provides for me. I have more than a belief in Him, I love Him. I am His love, and He is mine. He is not my enemy, but my friend, and never forgets me or leaves me to make it on my own. Nothing can separate me from Him (Romans 8:38). “I am graven upon the palms of His hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
Here are some things you can say when someone uses the word religion to describe Christianity.
I cannot undo the legal definition of religion, but I can be the clay pot that boldly gives an answer when I hear the words, “I am not religious.”