Friday, August 24, 2012

Ripped Off

Some time ago I sold one of my books, at a women's conference I was speaking at, to a fellow pastor's wife. She asked if I would take a cheque and I told her I would so she wrote one out to me and I thought that was that. But that wasn't the end of the story. The cheque bounced. I politely emailed the woman and told her the problem, but received no reply. Weeks passed and still nothing. So I emailed her husband and again no reply.

Months passed. I was beginning to get angry. In my anger I decided to send a message publicly to the pastor husband. I posted on his Facebook profile page asking him to "please contact me concerning the cheque." Within minutes I received my first reply. He was so sorry but he thought his wife had taken care of this months ago. He assured me he would send out a money order personally at the first of the week. But he didn't. Instead he emailed me a week later telling me that since he had left out the house number on the envelope it had been returned to him. (Having the postal code on the envelope would have delivered it to me, but nonetheless, I repeated my address to him and waited.)

Finally after having no correspondence from the couple and having four months pass by, I decided to do the one thing I should have done in the first place: I prayed. I needed direction. I was so angry and hurt that a fellow pastor would be so dishonorable that I couldn't see past my anger. I repented and prayed and asked the Lord what I should do. 

When I did, the Lord reminded me of how many times people had blessed us with money and told us not to bother paying it back because it was a gift. He brought back to my memory the times when money was tight for us and how I had wished for something everyone else seemed to be able to buy but that I couldn't. He asked me to have compassion and to forgive the debt. I did. How could I do anything else? God had given me so much more than I could ever deserve. He has shown me so much mercy, how could I fail to show mercy to others in return?

Matthew 18:23-35 tells the story of a man who owed a debt. Take the time to read this and you will see what I mean.

 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[a] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[b] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

So I forgive this couple because my heavenly Father has forgiven all that I have done wrong. I know that I could have been nasty and publicly embarrassed this couple but that's not how a Christian should act and its not Scriptural. It's hard sometimes to do what is right but if you do you will be blessed. I know that by forgiving this small debt I will be blessed but I also know that by acting dishonorably, they will not be. I choose not to fight this battle but to leave them up to the Lord. 

Have you ever felt ripped off or cheated? Have you allowed anger to settle and take up residence in your heart? Have you lost your peace because of it? Why not let it go today and allow the Lord to fight your battles? God has a plan for your life, a plan for good and not harm. He will prosper you and bless you when you do what is right and follow His way and His teachings in His Word. Be blessed and let it go. 

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