Where There Is Injury, Let Me Sow Pardon
You may have heard the Prayer of St. Francis which starts out this way: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon.” The words of this famous prayer sound good - but they are not easy to follow.
God calls on his children (us) to forgive – to return hatred with love and to respond to injury by pardoning. To turn the other cheek. None of us will be able to obey God’s command to forgive on our own! When there is serious injury we are not strong enough by ourselves to forgive all the way. God is asking more of us than we are capable of doing!
When Jesus promised to give the Holy Spirit to all believers He said: “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Holy Spirit of Truth … He is with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. “(John 14:16, 17b, 18) Jesus promises that we don’t have to go through life figuring things out by ourselves. He will not leave us as orphans. (without family and support) We are baptized into God’s family through the Holy Spirit. And God will give us the Holy Spirit to guide us along the way and open doors and give us the power to follow Christ and whisper truths into our ears!
What a blessing it is to have this wonderful Holy Spirit in our lives! And how does having the Spirit in our lives change things? If we let the Spirit into all of the areas of our life it will be quite different than if we hold Him away at arms’ length. Jesus compares our life in the Spirit to the “wind” since you can hear the sound of the wind but you can’t always tell where it is coming from. (John 3:5-8) I think Jesus is saying here that our life in the Spirit is a marvelous mystery. And we get hints in Scripture as to how exciting this mystery of life in the Spirit can be. One such Scripture hints that the Spirit brings us gifts of clothing and maybe jewelry to wear. Gifts that will change the way we look – and will change us!
A passage in Scripture (Colossians 3:12-17) states that we have been given spiritual “clothes”. And we are asked to put these clothes on! “…Dearly beloved, dress yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and love” (Colossians 3:12) The many pieces of spiritual “clothing” sound like they are the same as the many fruits of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit brings when He comes into our lives. Scripture says: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. “ (Galatians 5:22-23a)
You get the feeling that when you put a piece of clothing on, it magically influences you! When you take “kindness” out of the closet and pull it over your head and cover your body with it, you find yourself becoming kinder. And when you wrap the shawl of “gentleness” around your shoulders, you seem to morph into a gentler person. We put kindness on by being willing to open ourselves to kindness – by praying for help in being a kinder person – by trying to be kind. And the Spirit magically does the rest for us! And we put the other clothing items on the same way. You become what you put on! It’s a mystery how it all happens because it’s a “Spirit” thing!
The passage in Colossians instructs us to put on each piece of clothing that we have been given: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And then we are instructed to put “love” over all of these to bind them all together. “And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. “ (Colossians 4:14) We have been miraculously given all of these clothes to wear as we face the joys and trials of life. And of course we need to wear spiritual clothing when we face the trial of forgiving someone who has injured or hurt us! Being covered in the Spirit’s coat of love will surely be a help when we are facing someone who has injured us or insulted us or rejected us. Someone God is asking us to forgive.
What do I wear when I show up for Injury? Sometimes I wear the clothing the Spirit has given me when I meet the person who has hurt me. But I have some of my own clothing in my closet as well. Sometimes I push the Spirit’s clothing aside and wear my own. I have been known to wear a grudge when I have been hurt. My “grudge” shirt is made of armor with chains and guns and ugly messages dropping out from the pockets causing even further hurt and injury. There is no pardoning when I’m wearing this get up.
I have another outfit I often like to wear to Injury and it is my “self-righteous” dress with a tinge of “martyr” around the edges. A regal elegant dress with words woven into the pure lily white cloth. The words say, “Look at all I have done for you, and this is the way you are treating poor me!” Or “I am so good and you are so bad!” I always feel better than the other person when I wear this fancy dress and there is no pardoning.
And then another outfit in my closet is my “guilt and shame” outfit. This shirt has Velcro fasteners that are uncomfortable and a chainmail back that creaks and clanks and rubs blisters on my back when I wear it. The message, “You are guilty” flashes in yellow on the front of the shirt and “Shame on You” neon lights shine out from the back. Misery drips around on the ground under me wherever I go wearing my “guilt and shame” shirt and there is no pardoning when I show up wearing this.
But when I leave my own outfits in the closet and pick the clothing the Spirit has for me, it is all different! Then I show up for Injury in a light weight, free flowing comfortable dress that gently flows in the breeze. And I seem free to be able to flow to places I couldn’t go before, like the wind I can rise with wings to heights in this dress, free and easy and even with loving and forgiving feelings in my heart. Then when I show up for Injury in the Spirit’s clothes, the person who I am upset with and I can find a path and work our way to pardon and to peace.
What do you wear when you show up for Injury? All these outfits are hanging in your closet too?
Some of the ideas in this blog were taken from Reverend Tim Bruster’s sermon on March 1, 2015 at the First Methodist Church of Fort Worth, TX.