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21 Days of Prayer and Fasting | DAY 15


DAY 15

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone…” Hebrews 12:14a

PRESS PAUSE: Before you do anything else, take a moment to reflect on and celebrate all the Lord did in you, for you, and spoke to you yesterday.  

READ: Hebrews 12:1-17

Relationships. I’m not sure you could come up with another word that carries such conflicting feelings. Relationships can be complicated, right? Why?  Because people are complicated! Because we are all human. Flawed, broken, trying to heal from our own hurts and disappointments, yet we must interact with each other on a daily basis all while trying to work through life’s complex challenges.

Every relationship will experience moments of misunderstanding, conflict, and hurt. It’s natural for disagreements to occur and for emotions to run high, but it’s how we choose to handle these situations that defines our ability to reconcile differences in our relationships. Healthy relationships require us to be gracious, to work through our offenses and to forgive on a regular basis. 

None of those things I just listed are easy to do! But they are possible. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a familial bond, relationships can bring immense joy but they can also bring devastating disappointments and hurt. But despite the complications that may arise, it’s essential to navigate them with grace, understanding, and forgiveness.  Instead of allowing grievances to fester and relationships to deteriorate, we must learn to address offenses with empathy and humility. This requires a willingness to listen, communicate openly, and acknowledge our own shortcomings. 

I cannot tell you how important those last two sentences are! They have saved and allowed restoration to so many relationships and hurts in my past.  If we want God’s grace to flow to us, we have to let it flow through us.  However,  in order to be able to give grace, we need to know what it means. So what is grace?  Grace is unmerited favor. Ephesians 2:8 says it like this,

 “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” 

It isn’t something we earn, it’s a gift.  So if we can’t earn it from God, why do we often try to make people earn it from us?  Learning to be gracious in relationships is an ongoing process that requires patience, compassion, and a willingness to extend grace even when it feels undeserved. Grace allows us to see past imperfections and love unconditionally.

I find that when I understand someone’s why (or reason) behind their actions or words, it helps me to more easily offer grace, because I am able to see past their imperfections.  Not everything is personal. Recognizing that not everything is about me allows me to maintain a healthy perspective in relationships. Embracing this principle of not taking everything personally is closely intertwined with the concept of grace.

Remember, if we desire to receive grace from God, it is imperative that we extend grace to others. Just as we seek understanding and compassion for our own shortcomings, we must also extend the same to those around us.  By letting go of the tendency to internalize every action or comment directed towards us, we create space for grace to flow freely in our relationships.  Understanding that people’s actions are often a reflection of their own experiences and emotions helps me not to take everything personally.

So how do we show grace in our relationships?  By overlooking offense.  Just because someone puts an offense down, doesn’t mean we have to pick it up.  Proverbs 19:11 tells us, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”   While we may not always get to choose what people say or do to us, we do have control over how we react. As one of my favorite life quotes fittingly puts it, “The only kind of control God gives us is self-control.” Regardless of whether the offense is warranted or not, we retain power of self-control over our responses. This involves consciously choosing not to react impulsively when offended.  Overlooking offense enables us to focus on the bigger picture and avoid getting bogged down by petty grievances, preventing resentment from festering and poisoning our relationships. 

By practicing this, we also pave the way for reconciliation and the restoration of trust within our relationships. Giving grace in overlooking an offense is forgiveness in real-time.  Hebrews 12:14-15 says: 

“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

The imagery here is powerful, depicting bitterness as something that grows up.  Bitterness never remains small; it steadily grows over time, affecting not only us as individuals but also those around us.  Knowing this truth we can see clearly the reality that we, as believers, must learn to walk in forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a decision. And a process.  If forgiveness isn’t understood, it might seem like a harsh or cruel command.  However, it’s not cruel; it’s actually God’s mercy for our human hearts that can so easily turn hurt into hate. Forgiveness isn’t really about doing something for the sake of a relationship, rather it’s about being obedient to what God tells us to do.  Ephesians 4:31 says, 

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Forgiveness is something that we can only do with God’s help. Forgiveness doesn’t depend on our own strength, but it does require our cooperation. How do we do this? By leaning into what the Lord has done for us, just like the Bible says in Ephesians 4:7, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” 

One of the best books I have ever read on forgiveness is written by Lysa TerKeurst and it’s called “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget.” In that book she says, “While salvation is what brings the flesh of a human into perfect alignment with the Spirit of God, forgiveness is the greatest evidence that the Truth of God lives in us.”

At times, forgiveness can seem like one of the most exasperating things Christ has asked of us. It feels incredible to get, yet so challenging to give. However, when we accept it graciously from the Lord but withhold it from others, a heavy weight can begin to accumulate within our hearts. C.S. Lewis says it like this, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”

OUCH. There is so much truth to that statement!  While there is SO much more (literally an entire book's worth) I can get into on this topic of forgiveness, I think we will end with this thought…You can forgive.  You can heal. You can move forward. And none of those beautiful words are held hostage by the person who hurt you.

To wrap up, despite the challenges and hurts that may arise, choosing to extend grace, overlook offense, and forgive serves as a powerful catalyst for healing and reconciliation. When we engage in relationships with humility and a genuine sense of empathy, we create spaces where people can truly understand and accept each other, allowing genuine relationships to grow and strengthen. 

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