Elul 25 Love keeps no record of wrongs… God says that our sins, once confessed, are removed as far as the east is from the west. He does not treat us as our sins deserve nor does He retaliate because of our offenses. His mercy extends to all who fear Him and are trying diligently to keep His commands and follow His precepts. In human relationships, this example takes a considerable commitment to follow. I believe the caveat is the last line which intimates that He extends mercy towards those committed to the relationship. We all need mercy in relationships as we recognize our areas of poor choices and attempt to begin to work through them. Because change is a process, we need the mercy to make new habits and learn from our “failures.” But when we are dealing with a person who is uninterested in change and lacks commitment to the relationship, we may need to separate ourselves at some level and wait for their heart to shift back to sincerity and loyalty. This is where we codependents often fail. We try to stay in relationships at the same level when our partners/friends etc change their level of commitment. We put ourselves in “one way” or “ministry” relationships and become disillusioned and bitter when our actions aren’t reciprocated. We “enable” by allowing the other party to get by with poor or unloyal choices. I am not saying we should lower our commitment but rather shift our expectations and availability to be influenced by their bad decisions. We need to be good stewards of our time, energy and emotions. When we stay too close to corrupting behavior, we often become frustrated and influenced by poor behavior. We have all heard the saying, “ Bad company corrupts good morals.” We can see ourselves as “better” than them and we can become scorekeepers of how many times they fail--saying things in our heads like, “I would never do that…” We become quick to catch and remember every time it even looks like they might do something wrong. Our hypersensitivity can lead to focusing on the failure rather than being able to see the progress they are making. We can stifle a person’s honest efforts by harping on how they are missing the mark rather than how they are making steady improvement every day. While we are never called to reward poor behavior or sin, we can look at how God models mercy to us in our sin. While healthy boundaries are essential to create vibrant relationships, extending mercy when someone is repentant and putting out effort (even if it is not as fast as we would like) is modeling what Jesus does for us. How can you extend mercy without compromising your stance on sin? What areas do you have a low tolerance in or are you least likely to want to extend mercy in? How can you erase a negative score sheet and try to focus on growth no matter how small.
Follow the season of Teshuvah during this Month of Elul with Guest blogger Denise Dee Lytle Gibbs who originally posted these blogs on her Facebook page Fall Feast Prayer Initiative.