At ninety-two, Jenny never missed a chance to recall how her sister refused to buy her a pair of shoes fifty years ago! All those years marinating ‘in the gall of bitterness.’ (Acts 8:23 KJV)
Anne Peterson says: ‘An offence burrows into our hearts. We replay it…creating ruts that’ll be hard to rebuild later…we enlist support, which pushes us further into resentment. We decipher the offence as intentional, and our offender as full of spite. As we find reasons, real or imagined, to dislike them… we form another layer of bitterness… Then like a beach ball we try to submerge… it pops up… splashing everyone.’
The Bible says, ‘Make sure… bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many.’ (Hebrews 12:15 GWT) So remember:
(1) Forgiveness isn’t optional. ‘If… possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ (Romans 12:18 NIV) It may not be possible to live in harmony with everyone, but God still requires you to forgive those who’ve hurt you.
(2) As you forgive, you’re forgiven. The Bible says when you’re ‘full of bitterness’ you’re ‘captive to sin’. (Acts 8:23 NIV) Don’t forget that Jesus didn’t just die for you, He died for those who offend you. Do they deserve forgiveness? No. But then again, do you?
(3) Pray for your enemies. Ask God to bring to mind the people you need to forgive, and melt the bitterness in your heart towards them. It’s impossible to harbour resentment towards somebody you’re praying for. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to forgive; but you ‘can do all things through Christ.’ (Philippians 4:13 KJV)