August 1, 2016

Psalm 120:1-2 I call on the Lord in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, O Lord, from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.

The Bible has many prayers for physical healing, but at least an equal number of prayers about difficult people. Sometimes we might feel like we would be better off as solitary hermits, but it quickly becomes obvious that we were created as social beings, interacting with one another and with God. The thing is, we are quick to take offense from others, but much slower to recognize when we are the one giving offense. That’s especially true when it comes to how we give offense to God by ignoring Him and His instructions to us, or even openly defying those instructions. We can’t deceive God, but it’s amazing how often we try! What we’re really doing is deceiving ourselves, and that obviously doesn’t do us any good. Looking at this Psalm, sometimes we need to pray to be delivered from our own lying lips and deceiving tongues! Because we’re so adept at deceiving ourselves, we need to focus first on honesty, with God and with others. That will help us be increasingly honest with ourselves. The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment, (John 16:7-11) so we need to be careful not to refuse His work in our hears and minds. Again coming back to this Psalm, we need to remember Jesus’ very clear words, spoken just after He gave us what is called The Lord’s Prayer. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) We certainly try to weasel out of that one! When people hurt us, through words or otherwise, we forget how much we hurt God. After all, it took Jesus’ scourging, crucifixion, and death to pay for our sins. We are not to excuse lying or other hurtful behavior, but we are to forgive, that we may be forgiven.

This gets really up close and personal! I’ve got to remember Paul’s words on this issue. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) That’s not always easy to do! I have a policy of absolute honesty, and it grieves me when others don’t seem to behave that way toward me. I identify with this Psalm! However, focusing on what others have done to me, even when those things are very real and very wrong, will blind me to the incredible grace and love my heavenly Father has poured out on me. One of Jesus’ most severe parables was on this issue of forgiveness. (Matthew 18:23-36) I’ve got to recognize sin as sin, both in myself and in others, but I must not hang onto it in unforgiveness, either toward myself or toward others. Instead I must let the blood of Jesus Christ cover it all. (1 John 1:7)

Father, thank You for this reminder. It would be easy to become like an overused target at a firing range, so full of holes as to fall apart. Help me not hang onto any wound but give each one to You for You to deal with, choosing to forgive the one who dealt it to me. May I indeed forgive so that I may be forgiven, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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