Are You Collecting Wounds?

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5)

I think Matthew 6:14-15 contains some of the most challenging words Jesus uttered in his time here on earth:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There’s not a whole lot of ambiguity in his words - if we forgive others, God will forgive us. If we don’t forgive others, our heavenly Father will not forgive our sins. I grew up in a strong “TULIP” 5-point once-saved, always saved, believe in Jesus and you’re in for life Christian Reformed Church, and this Scripture seems at odds with that theology (or at least as I understood it at the time), because in a way it sounds like works, right? You have to do something in order to receive God’s forgiveness, and isn’t that antithetical to the gospel?

I doubt that’s what Jesus really meant; a heart that forgives comes from a heart that’s been transformed. It’s one of the fruits that comes from repentance, an evidence that yes, we really do belong to Christ - and just like Paul had to learn to be content, I think forgiveness and forbearance (letting go of our legal rights to be repaid for wrongs done to us) is something we exercise, learn, and develop as we grow in Christ.

I certainly know the terrible price we pay when wounds and hurts are collected instead of laid at the cross. Family, friends, the community I grew up in (Pella) and the church left some deep scars in my youth - many unintentional - and instead of giving those hurts to Christ I let them fester and ooze in my soul, which eventually led to a bitter, angry spirit and a hard, cynical heart. It also created a convenient excuse for my own sin; I loved to blame the people who’d hurt me in the past for my struggles with depression and addiction.

When I made the decision to once again follow Jesus back in January of 2004, one of the very first things God put on my heart was forgiveness. I longed to forgive those who’d hurt me, ask forgiveness from those I’d hurt, and leave the past at the foot of the cross. The weight of those wounds was a burden much too heavy for me to carry; I wept as I’d never wept before one night in my church community group as my friends prayed over me to release the pain to Jesus.

Melanie Davis Porter wrote an excellent devotional for Proverbs 31 Ministries called “Are You Collecting Wounds?” Porter shared her own experience of walking through a season of grief, loss, betrayal, and rejection, and her choice to collect those wounds in her heart instead of surrendering them to Christ. “We can choose to pick up wounds, or we can choose to let them be. Satan longs for us to be led by the wound instead of being led by the Spirit.”

Led by the wound, or led the Spirit - two very different choices with two very different paths. Paul writes in Romans 8:5, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” Porter gives this advice:

Letting go of the past while abandoning future flawed perceptions (and direct or indirect offenses) is the only way to break free from a broken heart. I’m so grateful the Spirit sweetly reminds me that no wound is worth the trade of emotional freedom.

There is freedom from the hurts and pains of yesterday - it’s found in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let him carry those heavy burdens and start walking in the freedom of the Spirit!