Even though the “cold war” has ended we still hear a lot of talk about one country or group doing something that would threaten the destruction of someone else. Huge amounts of resources are spent combating the possibility of our annihilation from the outside. However, how much time and attention do we give to the possibility of annihilation from within? Scant attention, if any, is given to the issue of bitterness. Bitterness results when forgiveness is NOT offered. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others.” (J.B.Phillips) Daily we are all given an opportunity to forgive someone for something. I think that most Christians follow the Biblical admonition of quickly providing forgiveness to any offender (Ephesians 4:26). However, some people, including Christians, DO NOT let go of an offense and have NOT forgiven. When that happens the button of self-destruction, has been pushed! When you gain a “bitter spirit” it is not long before you become a source of offense to others and soon affect yourself. Self-destruction has started!
Recently I received a phone call from someone that refused to give his name or phone number (just said “private number” on the caller ID). After determining that I was the person he wanted to speak with, he proceeded to unleash a litany of caustic and vicious statements concerning an event almost thirty years ago. (cf. Ephesians 4:32) When he refused to identify himself I discontinued the conversation. It was evident that great hatred and bitterness had wrapped itself around this person’s mind and heart. After hanging up the phone I prayed and asked God to help this person overcome their problem. The ONLY WAY to overcome this type of self-destruction is to develop a forgiving attitude.
Offenses are inevitable! (cf. Luke 17:1) God wants us to be alert and ready to respond in a Christ like manner. That is, to have a FORGIVING ATTITUDE and not allow bitterness to harbor in our hearts. This is the number one problem in the church today. How can you identify some of the characteristics of BITTERNESS? “Sad or sorrowful countenance. Sarcastic, critical talk. Inability to trust others and God. Frequent sicknesses. Frequent depression and discouragement. Critical spirit. Fatigue, loss of sleep and tiredness.” (Taken from Roots of Character) Matthew 18:23-35 gives a description of the bondage of bitterness. When you put your brother in jail, by not forgiving him, God will put you in jail by not forgiving you (v. 34). Satan wants to KEEP you wrapped up in BITTERNESS because he knows it works to his advantage. Why does he have to destroy you when you will destroy yourself?
God has forgiven us through Christ. This is the most basic principle of forgiveness! AS we apply, in our daily life, forgiveness to others that is the means God will use to forgive us! When this happens bitterness CANNOT rule nor destroy us. God’s grace comes to us through Jesus Christ. God’s purpose is that thru you His grace would work through your life toward others. Remember, God will give you GRACE to work through any circumstance or situation. If you have a situation that is “eating at you,” you are in danger of becoming bitter. Stop right now and ask God to help you with it, because He will! (2 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 21:22).
A Fig Tree Ministry Thought…
THERE IS NO BETTER TEST OF A MAN’S INTEGRITY
THAN HIS BEHAVIOR WHEN HE IS WRONG. (ODB)
Please send any comments to: Dr. Roland E. Bean at www.figtreeministry.org