Many people mess up every new day with what happened yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday, and in so doing pollute a potentially wonderful day. When bitterness, resentment, and revenge are allowed to live in the human heart, words of affirmation will be impossible to speak.
Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.
As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.
If we are habitually grumbling and complaining, we should beware; the path we are on leads away from Christ.
To pray with bitterness toward fellow men nullifies hours on our knees.
We cannot live with bitterness because it will first manifest itself in our spirit, then in our emotions, and finally in our bodies.
We can no longer harbor it [unforgiveness and hurt] for later use against the other person. We must surrender the wound or injustice that may have become a cherished, if bitter, possession. Letting go of this vengeful possession, we lose a painful advantage we have been savoring, but we regain the personal energy that has been dissipated as we nourished this hurt.
The Risen Christ proclaimed not that we ‘have to forgive,’ but rather, that at last we CAN forgive–and thereby free ourselves from consuming bitterness and the offender from our binding condemnation. This process requires genuine human anger and grief, plus–and here is the awful cost of such freedom–a humble willingness to see the offender as God sees that person, in all his or her terrible brokenness and need for God’s saving power. I would never tell another, ‘You have to forgive.’ But my uncomfortable duty as a Christian is to confess the truth, so lethal to our self centred human nature: ‘Jesus, who suffered your sin unto his own death, calls you likewise to forgive, so that God’s purposes may be accomplished in both you and your offender.’
When we stand in the middle of a lifestorm, it seems as if the storm has become our way of life. We cannot see a way out. We are unable to chart a course back to smoother waters. We feel defeated – and broken. Will that brokenness produce a cynicism that will keep us forever in the mire of if only thinking? Or will we yield up that brokenness to the resources of One who calms the winds and the waves, heals the brokenhearted, and forgives the most grievous of sins? The choice is ours.
Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.