Forgiveness is Like Spinach
Zoe Elmore

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

I've heard it said, "Forgiveness is like spinach. You might not like the taste, but it's good for you." I recently had the opportunity to "chew on" this spiritual wisdom, when someone close to me hurt my feelings.

We'd been friends for ten years, so her comment stunned me. Her words cut the silence of the room, "You and your personality are just too much for me today, I want you to leave my home immediately!" I thought she was joking but the look on her face and tension in her voice were clear, she wanted me to leave without delay.

I quickly gathered my things, said good-bye to the others in the room and left her home. I was hurt and embarrassed at what had just transpired. How could she have been so mean to me? What had I done to cause such hurtful words?

Over the next few days my hurt feelings turned to anger. Again and again her words rang in my ears. Soon unforgiveness crept in, spoiling my attitude. Knowing it would be easy to slip from an unforgiving attitude to sinful actions, I began searching God's Word for wisdom on this subject.
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells of a servant forgiven a huge debt by his king. When the same servant has an opportunity to forgive someone a minor debt, he chooses to inflict punishment instead. The king finds out and is outraged:

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:32-35, NIV)

These words pierced my heart as I thought of my bitter attitude toward my friend. As I meditated on these verses, I was reminded of times I had said or done hurtful things to others. At those times the forgiveness of God was extended to me. I could no longer allow myself to withhold forgiveness.

I invited my friend for coffee to ask her forgiveness for whatever I had done to cause her displeasure with me. Sadly, she was unwilling to explain or acknowledge her actions and we parted without any resolution to the situation.

It's been months since that meeting and there are times I have to remind myself to "eat my spinach" as I continue to forgive the one who hurt me. As I have struggled with this issue, God has shown me biblical steps to take as I forgive someone who has hurt me:

1. Recognize and confess my sins.
Psalm 41:4, "I said, 'O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.'" (NIV)

2. Rejoice in God's forgiveness for my sins.
Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV)

3. Remember that forgiveness is a continual process.
Matthew 18:21-22a, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." (NIV)

Has someone hurt your feelings or been unkind to you? Try God's steps for a forgiving spirit. I believe you'll experience Psalm 34:8 for yourself: "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."

Dear Lord, I acknowledge the unforgiving spirit I have had toward my friend. Help me forgive her as You forgive me. Put a guard on my mouth in order that my words would be pleasing to others and to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Hear Lysa TerKeurst’s thoughts about “stabbing words” on our radio program today.

The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sara Zacharias

How to Get Along with Difficult People by Florence Littauer

Visit Zoe’s blog - Called by a New Name

Application Steps:
Begin a forgiveness page in your journal and write out verses dealing with this subject.

Read the entire passage in Matthew 18:21-35.

Ask the Lord to show you who you need to forgive.

Am I a peace-maker or a grudge-holder?

Am I willing to go to those I may have hurt or offended and ask for forgiveness?

Am I willing to forgive those who have hurt me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (NIV)

Colossians 1:13-14, "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NIV)

© 2009 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you. I have currently apologized to someone, who as well is not willing to accept it. I have to say this is very difficult but I also know I am following God's leading. Thank you for being so transparent and letting God use your situation to reach others.

Anonymous mommyof2 said...

Giving and asking for forgiveness is not easy for me. Your devotional reminded me of God's great forgiveness for me-so how could I do any less? I am thankful for this devotional today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The face that todays devotional is about forgiveness is amazing! i really need to see and read that. thank you so much!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that todays devotional is about forgiveness is amazing! i really need to see and read that. thank you so much!

Anonymous A Saddened Sister in Christ said...

I've been dealing with this issue - with my mom. Over the past few years, her cutting words & rudeness has increased, and my sisters and I just always forgive her and "look past it"...

Recently, it was the same cutting comment over & over, in every conversation we had - for several weeks. Even when I tried to overlook it, and remind myself to forgive her- she would press the issue, by making sure I had heard her.

When I finally asked her [very] nicely not to say this rude remark, she got angry and severed ties with me for over a month.

Now, she is claiming to friends and family back home, that I have wronged her by being "disrespectful." She absolutely refuses to acknowledge her actions - even told a family member that "moms shouldn't shelter their children" [by withholding rude comments]... I even asked her if accountability is only for other Christians, because I am at a loss on how to proceed.

I told her that in order for us to have a healthy relationship, there needs to be boundaries, but she insists this is "disrespecting" her. I have prayed to forgive her - over & over - but I need counsel on how to proceed, since she is my mom & we have a lifelong relationship ahead...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this devotional today. I have been batteling with myself over an arguement I had with an old friend a year ago. I recently emailed her to let her know that I have forgiven her and that I have forgiven myself for the remarks that were made between us. I have yet to hear from her....but I am glad of the decision that I made to let her know that I have forgave her. Thank you again for this devotion.

Blogger Elaine said...

Thanks Zoe, for being transparent in sharing your story. It's hard to be treated unfairly or with mean words. Your devotion just instructed me on how to deal with some cutting words thrown my way.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. It is a bold step for you to extend the olive branch. That should release you from your burden. Now it is on your friend, if she hasn't accepted it...too bad. She is accountable to God, but you have done what God wanted you to do. Great job. Now the ball is in her court, she doesn't reciprocate then she is the loser.

To the Saddened Sister in Christ:
I know it is difficult especially to deal with Moms. And since they are probably the closest to our hearts, they hurt us more. I would suggest that you make ammends with her, bottom line she is older to you. If your apology is going to make her happy, I don't think you are going to lose anything by doing it. I'm sure God will be happy by your actions and so will everyone be involved. I'm not saying it's your fault or anything, you may have been wronged, but if your action is going to bring about peace, go for it. Be the better person.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Zoe,
The "friend" who was so rude to you and was unforgiving has a bigger issue to deal with. Although her comments were brutal, her lack of willingness to make amends was even worse. I feel bad for her. I totally understand how hard it is to forgive, having been through many instances, myself, where I had to forgive outlandish behavior. But forgiveness is to set us free. The other party will eventually have to deal with their own sins one way or another.

Blogger Zoe Elmore said...

Hey Friends,
Thank you for your encouraging words regarding this devotional. I'm grateful you have sahred your stories and pray the Lord will teach us all MUCH about HIS forgivesness through this.
Sweetest BLessings to each of you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a wonderful devotional.a friend really hurt me by taking someone i am dating from me but she was the one i used to share everything about this man with.i am working on the forgiveness issue i pray God to help me heal and forgive

Blogger Amelie said...

Something very similar happened to me and my husband. We were friends with this couple for a good 10 years. It's through Ann that I came to the Lord. We were at their house almost every weekend playing games. But then, slowly, they started pulling away from us, I didn't know why. She finally told me she had taken offense to something but wouldn't tell me what. We tried to get past it but it kept creeping in. Finally we had a huge fight and have barely had any contact now for 2 years. It's very hard because I miss them so much. Perhaps I do need to ask for forgiveness, even though I still don't know what this was all about. Ultimately though, I realize now that they were going through a very difficult time in their lives, and so were we. Maybe enough time has passed now for the relationship to heal, maybe not. Praying for God's leading.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You, I have long been holding agrudge against my family for not having anything to do with my Son, It was very difficult to deal with for these 12 years.
As I read this I let go of all the nger I have had built inside of me.
Thank you for helping me through this.
I am Thankful for this Devotion today.

Blogger Sally said...

Thank you, Zoe, for these words of wisdom. I, too, am dealing with hurtful things in my family that I don't understand the origin of. I find myself dwelling on them and wondering WHY?. I will take your words to heart and seek God's guidance and wisdom so that I can move forward and be the person He wants me to be.

Blogger Melanie said...

I had a similar situation happen just this year and it threw me for a loop.

I know my friend has boundary issues; we often discussed them. I never thought, or realized, I would be one of the objects of her issues. When I thought she was being real, she was being a people-pleaser. She didn't need to be.

Because I didn't "appreciate her for all she did for me and my family" then I was a "taker" and she could no longer be my friend. She totally cut me out of her life.

I am still not healed; my heart is broken. But I remind myself I forgave her and then pray for her.

To the Saddened Sister in Christ:

If you have done anything that the Lord has shown you to apologize for, then do so. But it sounds to me like you are exercising boundaries that have been encroached upon far too long. We must have boundaries with everyone, even our parents whom we are called to honor. You are not being disrespectful or dishonorable by asking her nicely to not make such rude comments. If she chooses to put it on you, it's most likely her guilty conscience and her lack of boundaries that have her reacting so strongly to you standing up to her. (If you haven't already, read the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.)

I know for a fact you have to take a stand and decide to stop enabling people if you are truly going to have any peace. I learned at Women of Faith two weeks ago that the true power-drainers in our lives are us because we enable others (spouses, kids, parents, etc.). We allow them to cross our boundaries or we may have never had them in the first place. When you finally put them up (not walls, boundaries) people resist and will accuse you of all kinds of "un-Christian" attitudes. That just means your boundaries are working. ;)

Apologizing just to have peace is false humility and that is not God's will. We are to be peace-makers (as far as it depends on us) not peacekeepers. You are being an agent for change in your family, and I bet your sisters are thankful for you. This may give them the courage to erect their own boundaries.

Blessings to you as you take this new and long-overdue step to building healthy relationships.

2 Timothy 1:7

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi.... Your post was very fitting and BEAUTIFUL to what I was writing today... I hope you don't mind that I quoted you and posted your site...

blessings to you

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have to forgive a friend that has caused me great harm. her sense of seeking justice has changed my life drastically. But i am humbled at how God continues to offer his protection and love to me. I try to pray for her but itis only in passing. the hardest part is that i can count on hand the number of people who have shown me such hatred. I guess that is what hurts the most.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the devotion on forgiveness. For the last several months if not few years, I have been dealing with anger at the turns my life has made, even when I knew that it was out of my control.

Thankfully my relationship with God has helped through even the scariest of times, it has also caused me pain when I was least expecting it. I grew up in a dysfunctional home where everything was I grew older the relationships I thought I had were being taken away from me and I didn't know how to get them back. I lost my connection to my grandmother a few months after the death of my grandfather due to misunderstandings and my family kept us apart to "protect" me. A few years ago I lost my baby brother to a bad heart and felt like everything I knew was coming to an end. At the same time as I was losing my brother, I was also seeing the end of my marriage. I stopped attending church due to the deep feeling of loss and ended up hurting my children's walk with God in the process. Happily I can say that my marriage turned a corner and we are still struggling to keep it together as we have once again rejoined a church where we can grow again. Last summer I almost lost my husband to a heart attack and I almost lost my life to a flesh eating bacteria in October of last year, thankfully it wasn't our time to go and we were able to recover.

Although times were difficult during the recovery, my greatest hurt was in the form of my sister who declared I was ruining her relationship with God because I couldn't accept her love and concern for my family when it wasn't given with a loving heart. Like I said before I grew up where everything was conditional so I learned to be wary when someone says "I am here for you". I have never doubted God's being there for me or my family, but when it came to family or friends.....I had been hurt one to many times. Forgiving was easy, it was the forgetting that made it hard to let go.

The subject of forgiveness begins by forgiving yourself and knowing that you can't always please everyone else can be a hard pill to swallow. I am learning to take each day as it comes and to have faith that it will work out in the end. I am not just quick to forgive, but I do my part for forgiving me and what I do in responding to how others treat me.

Anonymous Roselynn said...

Thank you for sharing on forgiveness with us today.

I am going through a very difficult time in my life and I apologised to God and made peace with everyone and apologised to everyone that I had done wrong to, lied to, cheated and so many things.

I gave my life to Christ and asked Him for His direction in my life. I told Him that I have made wrong decisions in life, am 33, I should be somewhere but I have gone back to zero.

I would like for so many people to forgive me and I am trying so hard to forgive so many people also.

There is one in particular who is spoiling my name at work and causing me grief and anger then she pretends the way she cares for me and would not want anything to hurt me, because my late parents would not like it if she abandons me. But she is the worst, lying about me and so many things.

I really wanted to tell her off today and write to her an email explaining my feelings and telling her not to bother with anything in my life anymore, but I was so busy the whole morning. And then at lunch time I went back to reading todays word and whoa, the first thing that caught me is about forgiveness.

So I have just left it at that but am asking myself to have the courage and strength to be talking to her and to forgive everyone who is talking badly about me at work. All they do is just gossip, but am asking God to forgive me so that I can also forgive them. I know that God will work His own miracles for me and I will one day sort out my issues.

But thank you for the devotional about forgiveness, I hope to practice it and that I will pray to God to help me do everything possible.


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