May 18, 2009
"From Hatred to Healing"
One Christmas Eve our family was gathering all together. Snow had fallen days before and the walks and steps were terribly icy. Our daughter Sarah and her family arrived. She gathered up presents out of the car and hurried through the snow to the door. As she gripped the door handle she slipped and crashed through the French doors. Her arm was slashed from the wrist all the way up her arm. Three doctors in our household sprang into action. That evening was spent in the emergency room while the rest of us painfully carried on with the celebration for the sake of the rest of the family. Hours were spent in the emergency room where they painstakingly removed every shard of glass. At last they were able to flush it clean and stitch her up. Many months passed before she had full use of that arm.
You see, when we have been hurt, obstacles to healing are automatically present and need to be removed. Here is where forgiveness comes into action.
If the injury is not forgiven, or accepted as being one of those things that God has actually permitted into our lives for our spiritual maturing, it will fester and move into self-pity. “But” you say, “I didn’t deserve it! Tell me! What did I do to deserve that kind of treatment? They are the ones who need to confess their sin!”
Let me ask you a question: Do we deserve ANY of the good that God showers onto us? The Bible tells us “No.” We deserve nothing. Nothing but hell because of our rebellion. We have been GIFTED with life, but not because we deserve it. So the minute my heart cries “I did not deserve this treatment from them!” I need to stop right there and say, “Father, forgive my arrogance. I was thinking I deserved far better because of all the things I have done for them.” That self-centered arrogance, in itself, puts me on the same level with the one who hurt me. We BOTH need the cross and His cleansing.
Now, suppose we want to feel the comfort of self-pity for just a little while, and our mind rehearses over and over again, while we are folding clothes, driving the car pool, or making the salad. It feels good. We really have said and done so many right things to that person. What’s more, they seem to have no idea how much we love them!
A few rounds of this can easily turn into resentment and the next time we see them in the grocery store, we find a different aisle to walk down, looking earnestly at all the soups and noodles. Or we simply don’t invite them to our home. Or we refuse their invitation to the family dinner. The resentment becomes anger. It swiftly goes rancid and turns into bitterness.
I MIGHT forgive them IF they say they are sorry. But if not, forget it! And them!
Suppose they DO say that they are sorry, it does not get rid of my bitterness. I still have to make a choice to forgive them. I can get free of my bitterness unilaterally, whether they say they are sorry or not.
The only thing that gets rid of my bitterness is confessing my self-pity, anger and bitterness to God as SIN. Because “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” But first we have to see our reaction as sin.
Now suppose we hold on to that bitterness. It will eventually turn into hatred. What does Jesus say about that? He says that if we hate our brother we have already committed murder. “WHAT? That’s going a bit too far, Arlita. You are saying that because someone else hurt me, I can end up at the end of this cycle? MURDER?” Yes, if you don’t allow the cleansing process of the blood of Jesus into your heart and thought life.
That’s why it says, “Beware lest any root of bitterness spring up, cause trouble, and defile many.” Have you ever seen bitterness go through a family? It can go through a congregation like a prairie fire.
Jim Wilson, in his book, How to Be Free From Bitterness* says, “The world has two solutions:
Keep the bitterness in and make yourself sick or let it all out and make everyone else sick! God’s solution: Dig up the root. Get rid of it.”
This takes our humbling and the grace of God.
The Bible says to get rid of all bitterness. Surrender it to the Father. Dig it up, break up the hard clods, and take out the big roots. Amend the soil, submit to God’s solution, and be set free.
Ephesians 4:31,32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
The last six words are the only basis we can forgive others. Not for their sakes. Not for our sakes. “Even as God for Christ’s sake.” This is our hope for healing.
* How to Be Free From Bitterness by Jim Wilson, Community Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 9754, Moscow, ID 83843-0180
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