A Root of Bitterness
Illustrating a Truth of Freedom through Forgiving
The writer of the Book of Hebrews warns us to watch out for a "root of bitterness" because many have been defiled by it. Can there be any doubt? Don't we all know people who are so negative, so bitter, so wrapped up in the past that we feel depressed in our spirit just hanging around them? Don't we daily hear hot heads going off on each other, either on TV, or in real life? Haven't we all known at times how strained or stained it feels to carry a heavy grudge, or even a light dose of resentment, against someone? How much better to live and let live! To forgive and be forgiven!
The great problem with forgiveness is not that it can't be done, but that we don't do it. Once you summon up the courage to go off the high dive, doing it again is easy. Some of us need to go off the high dive of forgiving the very worst thing ever done to us. Then, all the other people will be easy, or at least easier, to deal with the same way. In fact, we will positively want to get all those nasty, negative feelings out once we see that forgiving others from the heart really does work and that we've learned how to work it.
There is a process to forgiving and it can be as hard as cutting down a tree, hauling off all the branches, then digging up the stump. It doesn't always happen just by saying the words. Setting your will, finally choosing to agree with God and forgiving the hurt or offense is like cutting down the tree. This really clears the air! But as the days go by you may discover your feeling system is still lying on the ground and needs to have the decision of your will reinforced with repeated declarations, similar to clearing away the trunk and branches. Once everything is released to God, including any hurt that has stumped us over why He allowed it to happen, all the pain in our memories is removed. Forgiving "from the heart" can be hard work, but it is extremely rewarding.[i]
"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." Mark 11:25 ESV
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 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. Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV
Lord, make me willing to be made willing to obey You fully from the heart. Help me want what You want (forgiveness) and hate what You hate (un-forgiveness). I would rather be free on the inside, than bitter. I will set free anyone I must in order to get free. What was done to me is nothing compared to what bitterness is doing to me now. I am not bound by the past, only by my bitterness about it. Whatever the reasons are for being bitter, they are not as good as freedom feels. I will turn the key of forgiveness and walk away. I therefore choose to forgive ______ and release him/her from all my bitter judgments. I am giving _____ to You along with all the pain and injustice for You to redeem. I am trusting You with it all.
[i] In a parable about an unmerciful servant Jesus presented forgiveness as a requirement, but it is also the key to our liberation. We are evidently so obstinate that Jesus has to command us to liberate ourselves! Matthew 18:34-35: "And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
Next Illustrated Insight
The Pit of Depression
Illustrating the differences between emotional oppression and depression.
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