As we come to the close of another year, let us not only be thankful to God for all that He has done in our lives during the previous season, but let us continue to take hold of His truths as we move forward with Him into a new year. This week, I want to speak on the importance of releasing prior offenses instead of taking them with us into another year, or even into another moment.
Move Forward into the New Year: without holding on to prior offenses. When our hurting hearts go untreated, old wounds from prior offenses not only will fester, but they will go with us everywhere we go. If we do not allow the Lord to bring healing, we will continue to walk wounded—even into the next year.
What must we do? Repent, Release, Obey, Entrust, and Trust.
Repent: Getting right with God and with others. If anger and bitterness have cemented our hearts, and we are holding records of wrongs others have perpetrated toward us, let us bring this matter before the Lord and get it right before Him.
1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Next, if we have offended or hurt another individual, even if our part in the fracturing was only 5 percent, may we honor the Lord and the individual and make this right. A pastor once stated, “Even if you are 5 percent wrong in a matter, you take care of your 5 percent and allow God to take care of the other person’s 95 percent.”
Matthew 5:23-24 states, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
Release and Obey:
We must release those offenses and offenders to God and obey His truth as relates to both (this includes prayer, Bible study, and obeying what God asks us to do).
As relates to the offenders: “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:43-47).
Entrust our heart and life into His care: We must daily entrust our hearts as well as our lives into God’s care. For in doing so, we are surrendering our lives to the Guardian of our souls to heal us, to teach us, and to take care of that which concerns our lives.
1 Peter 2:21-25 states, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Trust the Father: We must trust the Father to both handle and work, in and through the situation we are facing, as He deems best. When we repent, release, obey, and entrust, we then trust the Father with not only the results of our obedience, but also in what He chooses to do in and through it all. God will bring justice and He will cause all things to work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). He will take everything you and I have been through and use it to help others.
Remember, God longs both to heal and restore you. Instead of nursing our own wounds—or pretending they do not exist—let the Lord Jesus bring healing. Guard against taking those offenses with you into the next year. Let God heal you! “He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).