September 28 Reading
And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other’ Zechariah 7:8-10 NIV
“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. Zechariah 7:11-12 NIV
“‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 7:13 NIV
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord. Zechariah 8:16-17 NIV
I’ve read parts of the Old Testament previously, but this year is the first time I’ve been reading through the entire Old Testament. Over and over I’ve learned about the character of God. He is merciful. He is good. He is patient. He wants me to do the same.
God’s character doesn’t change – from the Old Testament to the New. He wants me to listen to him; soften my heart toward him. Obey him by loving others.
Right now I am still struggling to soften my heart. I am struggling with a grudge against someone, and I know that by holding that grudge against that person I am hardening my heart toward God.
I can remember a shift in my childhood when I no longer guarded my heart and mind, and at that point I started turning away from God. I gave myself opportunity to think unkind thoughts, which soon led to gossiping. And I liked it because it met some need inside me to feel superior.
I came to a crossroads – to start pursuing God again I had to quit pursuing thoughts that didn’t line up with what God wanted. I had to close the door of my mind to impure thoughts, which I didn’t want to do. When I came to that crossroads – sometime in my early teen years – I closed my mind and heart to God, just like Israel did in the Old Testament.
And I walked farther and farther away from God.
Around 2012, I started an active walk back toward following God, which meant guarding my heart and mind and spending time with God. It meant actively trying to shut down thoughts that don’t align with what God wants. And the main thing he wants is for me to love him and love others. To be patient, kind, unselfish, forgiving, humble, not envious, not easily angered, not holding grudges or bitterness.
These are all things I struggle with and as I mentioned in Forgiving, right now I am struggling with Unforgiveness.
- Does holding a grudge against this person and thinking about how they hurt me fill some need in me: Yes
- Do I feel like holding this grudge is equaling the playing field of the hurt they caused me: Yes, but it isn’t
- Is holding this grudge really helping anyone: No
- Is holding this grudge hurting my walk with God: Yes. Not because God won’t forgive me, but because I can’t give myself fully to praising God, praying to him and reading the Bible when I am holding onto this sin
I need to repent of this grudge and give this person to God. Mentally take them off of my hook and put them on God’s. I need to forgive and show mercy. I need to show love. This weekend I will purposely do something kind for this person and, with God’s help, guard my mind against unkind thoughts, selfishness and unforgiveness.
Lord, please fill me with your love. Help me to see “______” through your eyes, Jesus. Show me how I can love them and show them mercy. Please take away this grudge and my anger. Please help me to forgive.