Free will hurts

Written by Dewald Pretorius

Have you ever been hurt by somebody in the church? How about friends or family? If you’re a human reading this (which I most certainly hope you are) your answer to these questions is probably “yes”.

The reason why this happens is pretty simple, it’s because Satan wants you to walk around with hurt in your heart. After-all, it is often those that we love the most that end up hurting us the most. Satan knows that using those that we love against us is the best way of injuring us. Division is Satan’s greatest tool because it breaks down community, corrodes trust, hardens our heart and ultimately leads to isolation.

We often suffer as a result of the actions of others because of their free will. In that moment that they hurt you they chose to walk in the flesh. Sometimes intentionally and at other times simply out of ignorance. However, we cannot afford to place our hurt and anger on that individual as they are not yet fully shaped into the image of Christ. Other people are not our enemy; Satan and the dark forces of the present age are our true enemy. Also, you need to remember the fact that you have hurt many people in your own life, at times without even knowing it.
As Jesus put it, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7, NKJV).

Now some might rationalise that the best way to go about handling the situation is to pray that God will change that individual’s behaviour. At first this might seem good in our own eyes; however, upon meditation one can discover that there is a massive issue with this. You are essentially praying that God alters that person’s free will so that it fits with what seems good in your own eyes. This is an issue because free will and love go hand-in-hand. If you remove or alter the one you also ravage the other one.

I recently learned this explanation of what sin actually is from one of the founders of The Bible Project, Dr. Tim Mackie. Sin is essentially God allowing the full effects of our own mistakes (that we willingly made) play out. If we work according to that explanation of sin then as long as we have free will there will be sin, and as long as there is sin, people will continue to hurt each other. Nevertheless, if God removes our free will, He then also removes love.

The take-aways for this session are:
• Satan will use those we love against us because he knows it hurts so much.
• Do not become hateful towards others because you have also hurt others through your own actions. People are not your enemy, Satan is.
• Free will and love cannot be separated from each other.
• Show grace and mercy to others when they hurt you just as God showed mercy to you and provided you with grace.

There are two wonderful resources I recommend to further delve into the topic. The first being the YouVersion Bible plan called True North: Going Through Hell for Heaven. The second being the book Wanneer seerkry en God se koningkryk ontmoet by Riekert Botha & Albert Theron.

Further Scripture readings I would recommend are 1 Peter 5:10 AMP, 2 Peter 3:9 MSG and Galatians 5:13 AMP

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