Sometimes little things creep into our heart and mind. Something so small we hardly even notice it. Unfortunately, that little thing can take root and grow very quickly until we are buried in resentment, fear or bitterness. Do you know who it hurts? Us.
Other times, there may have been a big offense. Those are the times we need to assess the situation closely. Possibly the situation can’t be changed and all you can do is walk away. Many times, it is a misunderstanding and can be resolved. There are times though that we have to weigh the circumstances and forgive. That is the hardest one of all.
Do you remember the WWJD fad? There were bracelets, signs and various other things. My point is just that. What Would Jesus Do?
Holding onto a little bit of offense, a little bit of unforgiveness, a little bit of resentment might not seem like that big of a deal.
But Scripture tells us that if we go through this life harboring bitterness toward others and even God, we’re actually defiling many. (Hebrews 12:15) This is because bitterness isn’t just personal . . . it’s corporate. It leaks out like liquid acid onto every person we touch.
Bitterness often wears the disguise of other chaotic emotions. The grudge that feels increasingly heavy inside of us. The desire for the ones that hurt us to suffer. Frustrations with God for not doling out severe enough consequences. Seething anger over the unfairness of it all that grows more intense over time. Covertly recruiting others to our side under the guise of processing or venting.
Sadly, undealt with bitterness can end up ruining our relationships and our witness.
But if we will choose to pursue unity and peace within the family of God, letting Him sweep our hearts clean of bitterness through the process of forgiveness, we can become a sign to a broken and hurting world of what is to come in Christ. Our lives can point them toward the forgiveness and reconciliation they need that can only be found through Jesus. This is because the Church is the visible representation of the “already” of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth and the “not yet” of the final consummation of Christ’s return.
Please know this isn’t a message about justifying, allowing, or ignoring abuse or injustice. But when we give evidence to the inner workings of Jesus by trading anger for kindness, resentment for compassion, and bitterness for gentleness and forgiveness… it splits this cold world wide open with the warmth of Jesus.
Not one person who sees it walks away unaffected.