This morning, I had to dig into my archives to find a previously published post, of which I will share some this morning. I needed to read it again this morning, and to take it to heart!
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15) We are responsible to show the grace of God to everyone we meet, ridding ourselves of unforgiveness, letting go of our feelings of resentment, laying down our “right” to get even, and allowing God to deal with the person who has hurt us. We must choose forgiveness. We don’t want to lead anyone away from God or build a wall of bitterness and regret between our hearts and the Lord. We must always choose to show His mercy to others so we can truly be His representatives in the world.
The good news is, anyone can overcome a bitter spirit. God encourages us to deal with it. He says in Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” The Bible is so practical and clear that if we take what God teaches us about overcoming bitterness and apply it, we can be free of the bondage of bitterness.
Bitterness is that hateful, spiteful sourness in the heart that creeps in when you have been, or think you have been, maliciously wronged. If you’ve ever had a difficult experience with someone who made you mad, and you resented it, held on to it–you know how bad it tasted spiritually, and in your mind it raised hateful feelings and thoughts. That is bitterness, and God’s Word has something to say about it. Bitterness can be an unseen enemy, growing like a tumor in your mind and in your spirit. The Bible says we should look out for it. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Bitterness is the unharvested fruit of anger, and in time it will show itself. As Numbers 32:23 says, “Be sure that your sin will find you out.”
How do you deal with bitterness against others? One thing you must do is to keep your anger temporary. In Ephesians 4:26 God tells us we should not let the sun go down on our anger. If you’re mad at somebody today, you should get it settled before the sun goes down. If it goes down and you don’t deal with it, it will simmer all night, and tomorrow there’s a good chance you’ll be twice as angry and bitter about it as you are today.
Another crucial area is the tongue. The Bible reminds us that though the tongue is a little instrument, it causes a lot of problems. You can’t get into trouble for something you didn’t say. That’s why it’s so often best to mentally stamp “N.C.” on things you hear or observe. Do you know what that is? “No Comment.” You can keep out of trouble that way. Watch your words. A sharp tongue is a tool that grows keener with use. Watch it. (See Taming the Tongue)
We can also pursue peace. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men.”–Heb.12:14. “Seek peace and pursue it.”–1 Pet.3:11. We must chase after peace, like a dog after a fox! Go for it! In Philippians 4:5 we are commanded, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Be gentle–not to most people, or to some, but to all of them. Live gently. Pursue peace.
There’s something else: Forgive and forget. How can you forget something negative that’s stuck in your mind? The Bible says God remembers our sins no more. So how can God forget something when He is omniscient? How can He know everything and still forget? Here’s the secret: When you forgive and forget, the forgetting means that you, like God, don’t hold that wrongdoing to the offender’s account. God forgets the charge against us; He remembers it no more. Oh, He knows about it, just as you do, but He will never bring it up again. That’s what we are to do. Don’t fish in the pond of history. Leave it there.
A person who has an unforgiving spirit is always the real loser, much more so than the one against whom the grudge is held. Unforgiveness, by its very nature, prevents individuals from following through on many of the specifics of the Christian life and practically necessitates that they walk by the flesh rather than by the Spirit. The destructive nature of an unforgiving spirit is such that it is not limited to one relationship. Resentment and other negative feelings spill over into other relationships. This is the second reason a person with an unforgiving spirit loses out in life.
The third reason a person with an unforgiving spirit loses out in life is closely tied to the other reasons. When a person is wronged in some way, whether in marriage, business, friendship, or some other relationship, a feeling of rejection occurs. There is a fourth reason an unforgiving spirit can devastate a life. Since the person with the unforgiving spirit is usually waiting for the other person to make restitution, a great deal of time may go by. During this time, fleshly patterns of behavior and incorrect thought processes develop. Even after an unforgiving spirit is corrected, the side effects can take years to deal with, especially in the area of relationships.
Yesterday I was hurt, offended, and I began to harbor anger. I didn’t let it go. I found that I was still angry this morning, even more so. Holding on to that anger goes against what Jesus taught us. My prayer this moment is: Lord, I forgive (name of person) for (name the specifics). I take the authority over the Enemy, and in the Name of Jesus Christ and by the power of His Holy Spirit, I take back the ground I have allowed Satan to gain in my life because of my attitude toward (the person), and I give this ground back to Jesus Christ. Lord right now I ask for your help to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)