Bitterness seeps into the basement of our lives like run-off from a broken sewer pipe. Every form of ugliness begins to float to the surface of those murky waters: Prejudice and profanity, suspicion and hate, cruelty and cynicism. There is no torment like the inner torment of bitterness, which is the by-product of an unforgiving spirit. It refuses to be soothed, it refuses to be healed, it refuses to forget. There is no prison more damaging than the bars of bitterness that will not let the battle end.
Despite its evils, bitterness holds many of us captive. Forgiveness is the only escape route out of this prison. For the Christian, forgiveness is not an option. Jesus commanded us to forgive; He modeled forgiveness for us. Failure to forgive not only wounds our Savior but it destroys us. A lack of forgiveness causes the bitterness plant to take root in our hearts. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Peter asked the Lord: “How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” In essence Jesus was saying “Keep on forgiving; forgive as many times as it takes.”
Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. Forgiveness breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. While dying on the cross, Jesus said, “Forgive them” – the Roman soldiers, the religious leaders, his disciples who had fled in darkness, even you and me who have denied him so many times – “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Author Phillip Yancey called forgiveness an “unnatural act”. He’s right. It does feel unnatural. However, forgiveness is not a feeling but a secret choice of the heart.
Romans 12:9-10, 14, 18 says: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Excerpt from Calm My Anxious Heart
By: Linda Dillow