Choose Freedom – At the Movies

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The movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, presented by Lead Pastor Ben Snyder last weekend, offered a great segue for many of us as we step into (or attempt to avoid) the 2021 holiday season. Gathering with family, friends, and foes becomes the norm for many this time of year. For some, much effort is put forth to sidestep the dreaded invitation. The mere mention of an expectation of participation is enough to bring some to their knees in agony.

Like Lloyd Vogel, we too have been on the receiving end of offences. (It’s amazing how infrequently we notice when we deliver offences to others. Note the irony of that!) As Ben mentioned in his message, it is a battle for the heart, both when we try to get even with others and when we try to bottle up the feelings associated with offences. We are only hurting ourselves. If we choose to hold on to the hurt and resentment, it will continue to grow.

Paul knew this first hand, and it’s why he implored us in Ephesians 4:31 to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

Don’t let these things take residence in your heart. The bitterness you have toward another person, or that person who hurt you, will only grow to hurt you more. So get rid of it. Release the person who has offended you.

Let it go, and cancel the debt.

In order to keep the bitterness from festering, we need to forgive. As Mr. Rogers said, “Forgiving is a decision we make to release a person from the feelings of anger we have at them. It’s strange, but sometimes it is hardest of all to forgive someone we love.”

Ephesians 4:32
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:1-2
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.   

Ben made it clear that this is not an easy assignment, but it is an important one. He recommends we seek to understand what is going on below the surface relationally to determine what the problem is behind the issue.

Thankfully, God never forces a change in us. He, along with our fellow Christ followers, reveals a wiser path to take. At times, that may require a complete U-turn. But always remember, he loves us too much to allow us to be comfortable in our present spiritual condition.

Questions:
Do you have the tendency to hold grudges? Do you hold resentment close to your heart? Do you find it hard to forgive those having sinned against you? Do you stop and consider those you have offended and hurt? Have you made amends to those you have injured?

Next Steps:
Via RightNow Media, access Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Changes that Heal” and Bruce Wilkinson’s “70X7 Finding Peace By Forgiving Others … And Yourself.” Both resources offer spiritual understanding and tools for Christians.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I have so much to be thankful for. Your generosity is undeserved and unparalleled.  Empower me to be generous and  loving in relationships, especially the relationships that remain challenging. Help me to relinquish the resentments and anger I too easily embrace. It is the longing of my heart to generously forgive and love all humankind, allowing your love to cover all existing relational obstacles. It is only with your power and your love that this can be achieved. Your love and your patience overwhelm me—thank you. Amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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2 replies
  1. Julie Estep
    Julie Estep says:

    Unforgiveness and being unforgiven are both terrible places to be. My brother has a bag of unforgiveness against every person in his family. He hasn’t spoken to any of us in years. His brother and sister, his son and daughter, I feel terrible about it. It hurts my heart so much. Please pray he finds peace within. His name is Marty.

  2. Cathy Cameron
    Cathy Cameron says:

    After reading Karen Peck’s article, I am inspired to follow the path of forgiveness and making amends, rather than staying in the camp of resentment. Fueling that fire serves, not God, but evil.
    Why is it so hard to forgive the ones we love? We trusted them with our heart and well-being? We feel betrayed?
    Karen reminded us that Ben said to look for the real problems and move forward. It reminded me of the idea that to love is to try to understand. Therefore, trying to find understanding may lovingly lead to forgiveness and amends. Thank you Karen and Ben for leading me to Ephesians 4:32 and 5:1-2. Thank you for reminding me that our answers are grounded in the Bible and our church family is full of great trail guides up the path of forgiveness and amends. And, of course, thanks for honoring the amazing Mr. Rogers.

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