My topic for this Sunday is one familiar to all of us. Even if we say we have no bitterness toward anyone, we read about it in the news quite a bit.
A worker saunters into work and unloads a ton of ammo on fellow workers.
High school students shoot up a school.
Kids (or adults) who have been bullied once too often take their anger out on those who hurt them.
So-called “vigilante justice” is taken into the hands of one or two people.
You know the stories I am talking about. Stories that shock us. Stories that rile us. Stories that garner our deepest sympathies. Stories that even have us saying, “He/she deserved that.” Several quotes are true about what causes events like this to occur:
“Resentful souls draw the drapes and purposely block out the sunshine.”
“Bitterness is like a cancer. It eats upon the host.” Maya Angelou
Hebrews 12:15 warns us: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” The Bible knows whereof it speaks. Bitterness is an ugly emotion that poisons the person and those who come in contact with that person.
There are two interesting stories in the Bible that involve bitterness-one good and one not so good.
The first one is here. The story of King David giving a charge to his son, Solomon, to make sure Joab pays for his treachery is a sad commentary on David’s end. His resentment and bitterness come seeping out in his words to Solomon. Bitterness clings. Bitterness hangs on.
The second one is here. If anyone had cause for bitterness it was Joseph. Sold. Bought. Falsely accused. Jailed. Forgotten. Finally vindicated. Forgiving. But this is the ultimate test. Jacob is dead and the brothers begin to get a tad bit paranoid. Not only has Joseph shown them forgiveness when he reveals who he is, he now shows them the ultimate trump card. “You mean it for evil, but God meant it for good.” I think it is safe to say Joseph had better things to do than stew over the mistreatment of his brothers.
When (not if) you are hurt deeply, it behooves us to let it go. Forgive and move on. But in the moving on, don’t carry it with you. Leave it in the past where it belongs. You cannot change what has happened. You can only change how you react to what has happened. Keep this old adage in mind:
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.
How are you at forgiving? Do you tend to have a bitterness problem? Allow yourself to be set free. I’d like to hear your thoughts.