I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. Isaiah 63:7
If you’re like me (and chances you are), then you’re good at keeping a record of wrongs. If you’re like me (and chances you are), then forgiveness does not come naturally or easy. If you wrong me, chances are I’ll dwell on it quite a bit (chances are real good that I’ll do that!). I’ll probably rehearse how you wronged me, what you said/did, and how I can get revenge. Oh, I may not seek revenge like Psalm 3 and ask God to break your teeth, but inside my heart I just might entertain the thought. I’m good at wanting God to exact justice… as long as it’s on my enemies and not me.
How do you keep from letting bitterness set in? How do you keep from dwelling on hurts? How do you keep from replaying scenes and scenarios over and over in your head? How do you keep from having “imaginary conversations” where you drum up just the right words to get back at the people that have hurt you? The answer is simple. Let Isaiah, an old Testament prophet, tell you how to do it:
I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD…
We live in a fallen world where we will be hurt by fallen people. How do we cope? Recount God’s goodness to you in Christ. Rehearse the Gospel. Recounting God’s forgiveness of your sins will strengthen you to be able to forgive others. It is a strange thing when we say thank you to God as he wipes our record clean and then we refuse to clear our “to-revenge” list. Richard Allen said, “Purposeful looks to the cross dispels the desire for revenge.”
Want to get rid of that nagging, venomous, cancerous, and deceptive “to-revenge” list? You do it by recounting the steadfast love of the Lord. You do it by purposeful looks to the cross. You do it by repeated and repeated and repeated looks Jesus.
May we be a church who fills up the trash cans scattered around the cross with our crumpled up “to-revenge” lists.