Letting Go of Being Right
By Lonnie Lane
Yesterday I planned to write a chapter in a book on the One New Man I am attempting to write. This chapter is about the Fall of man from glory to godlessness. I had been pondering these issues for a while, ruminating with God about it. I would write it, I had decided, from the position of my born-again union with God who has redeemed us from the Fallen plight of Adam Glory to God!
But the Lord evidently had another approach and some things He wanted to teach me about Adam and so I never got to writing yesterday. There were too many people and things to attend to. One of those was a conversation I had with a staff member at Messianic Vision with whom I was working to set up a Messianic Vision-sponsored “One New Man” meeting.
This would be, as Sid says, not a meeting in which one man does most of the talking, but a meeting which would be open for whosoever would bring forth a psalm, a hymn, a prophetic word, a song, a prayer, much like the New Testament describes a meeting led by the Holy Spirit and not any man in particular. We have had two of these meetings so far in another city which several hundred people attended and all who came were blessed.
One woman who had been healed while we worshipped in the first meeting told her story in the second meeting and then prayed for anyone else who might need healing. As she prayed my friend Karen who had not been on her knees in 12 years due to Rheumatoid Arthritis felt she had to kneel before the Lord, something she had been unable to do all that time. As she did, she was entirely healed. I had high expectations for this coming meeting which would now take place in my own city of Jacksonville, Florida.
However, my enthusiasm was somewhat dimmed by a concern that the staff member had about the contract for the church building where we would meet. I became immediately concerned that I had misjudged the situation and was the cause for a major problem. We did get it straightened out, much to my relief.
About an hour later, while driving to pick up my grandson Jordan from school, I reflected on our conversation. My own words came back to me in horror as I realized they exposed a not altogether righteous motive of my heart. I had told the staff member that it was someone else who had confused the issue. But the confusion had really been mine. And I had just done what Adam had done. In an attempt to get out from under the pain of feeling that I might have lost favor and trust, I had deflected the responsibility onto someone else.
In trying to swim out of the murky waters of my remorse over this transgression, I began to wonder if Adam’s abdication of his responsibility wasn’t so that Eve would suffer the consequences instead of him, but rather to try and find a way back into the favor of God and release from the excruciating emotional agony he was feeling.
After all, he’d never known anything but approval from God until then. Even though he had been told by God that he would die if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (Gen.2:16,17) how was he to know what that would mean? Whatever it was, being alienated from the goodness and the glory of God had to have been unbearable for Adam and for Eve. It was all they had ever known. And so perhaps he said what he hoped would restore him to God’s favor. Isn’t that why we lie, to try and gain favor and to avoid disfavor?
Having only known God’s loving acceptance, Adam could not have imagined what it would be like outside of that acceptance. When confounded by these new and intolerable feelings of guilt and shame, he tried to find a way out of them by blaming her. She in turn blamed the snake who didn’t have a leg to stand on. I doubt that Adam tried to say it in jest when he told God, “The woman You gave me, she made me do it.” There’s no “heh-heh” in the text. Sounds more like he was trying to get God to take some responsibility as well by saying, “If You hadn’t given me the woman, this wouldn’t have happened.” But his blame-shifting only made it worse and didn’t make it all go away.
However much shame Adam felt at his transgression, I was now feeling my own shame about my lapse of godly character. It wasn’t just Adam who abdicated responsibility and tried to blame-shift his way out of taking responsibility. I had just done the same thing. I could see God frowning down at me through my windshield as I drove. Fatherly and loving, but frowning nonetheless.
When I first realized all this, my initial response was feeling ashamed that the staff member’s spiritual discernment might have caused her to decide that I wasn’t the spiritual woman she may have thought me to be and then I realized I was more concerned with what a person thought of me than I was of my relationship with God. So now I was doubly guilty before God and before man.
The matters weighed upon my soul as I sought to find solace in God. I was in the throes of remorse first, and then repentance, and then finally able to surrender it all up to God, appealing to Him for a Blood-bought and cleansed conscience which can only be had by faith. I trusted that He forgave me and that He would work it all out for good. (Rom. 8:28)
One verse I’ve never been able to skip past unscathed says, “To the pure all things are pure.” (Titus 1:15) I usually think of Mother Teresa, whom I consider more pure than most, when I read that verse. Would she think of even the neediest of us as impure and unclean, or as a battered child in need of God’s love and acceptance? The verse seems to be saying that when I see any impurity in someone else, it is a statement that I am impure myself. The minute I judge someone else I’ve incriminated myself and that judgment will come back on me. I will feel the unrest of it in my spirit.
This was brought home to me a number of years back when I experienced a terribly painful broken relationship with some other Believers. I was committed to forgiving them. However, I was still not free. Months went on and I’d forgive and forgive but still not feel free. One day I sought the advice and prayer of Neal, a pastor I knew who has a ministry of reconciliation. As he began to pray for me he said, “Lonnie, I see you with a piece of paper in your hand and on it is written, ‘But I was right.’” Bingo! That was it. I had forgiven them for everything I could think to forgive them for. But I got caught on what I saw as the injustice of it all, wanting so much to be vindicated.
Proverbs says, “A good name is more to be valued than gold.” I longed for a good name and to be well thought of by those who knew me. I hadn’t, therefore, let go of being right, which meant that I still saw them as being wrong. Even though I thought I had forgiven them, as long as I still saw them as wrong, I was still holding them in guilt. I relinquished to God my right to be right and released them from what I now saw as my wanting to prove them wrong, which was equal to holding them in judgment. There was a higher issue here than me being right. It was honoring God’s word to forgive as He forgives entirely.
If you would ask me what I love most, I’d say unity. I love seeing people support, love, help, encourage, share and bear with one another. It is a constant source of embarrassment to me that the least hint of “togetherness” and I’m all tears. And if you would ask me what I hate most, I’d say injustice especially irrational, unfeeling, uncaring or cruel injustice. When I first came to know the Lord one of the first things I had to do was forgive the Nazis for their injustice to my people. That was the beginning of my lessons from God on forgiveness.
As God has taught me of forgiveness over the years, I have come to believe that the Blood of Yeshua was so complete in providing forgiveness of the sin which separates us from God, that if even Hitler had truly repented in the last moments of his life, acknowledging his sin and realizing his desperate need for Yeshua’s atonement and the mercies of God, he would be in heaven. Yes, it is harder to forgive the one who is not repentant, who is sure they are right. Just as we have seen, it’s also harder for us to fully forgive when we are sure we are right and the other person isn’t.
But in our quest to find common ground as “one new humanity” it would seem that we need to take our stand directly in the center of Yeshua’s profound curse-breaking words and no matter what the failure or the offense to say with Him, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
Lonnie would enjoy hearing your response to this or her other articles. You may send them to LLane@sidroth.org and she will be glad to respond to you. Use this same address to contact Lonnie about speaking engagements. For Lonnie's other articles, go to our Powerful Prayer section on this web site.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships one with her brother Michael Lane in the Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked.” She is the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked: A Jewish Family's Search for God".