On our wedding anniversary, I wrote about how forgivenesss and understanding is a major part of a marriage, and it’s longevity. You don’t just marry an individual, you accept their families, as well. Warts and all. That’s where patience, tolerance, and a desire for peace come in. As we enter Spring, and the season of marriages, I came across this writing about bitterness & forgiveness. Our lives are not endless. Our love for each other, for our family, our wives, our husbands, our parents, our children. That’s endless. Learn to forgive, if only for your own heart to heal. 2557[-1226]
♥♥♥ WE LOVE YOU ALL – ALWAYS ♥♥♥
Bitterness comes when you hold onto hurt and refuse to forgive the person who hurt you. Most of the time, this comes as a result of ongoing actions of a small nature—lack of understanding, misuse of finances, harsh comments—that build up over time. Each offense takes residence in the heart, and at some point there is no more room left. That’s when bitterness is manifested and causes the most damage.
A hardened heart can cause a lot of pain. Here are three reasons why bitterness should be removed from your heart as soon as possible:
1. Bitterness harbors unforgiveness.
You may feel justified in your anger. You may think that your family doesn’t deserve your forgiveness until they straighten out. But have you forgotten the mercy that Jesus had for you?
Romans 5:8 tells us that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. By God’s grace, He forgave us freely even when we didn’t deserve it. At Golgotha as the soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothing, the dying innocent Christ prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). If forgiveness is given freely to us, how much more should we give it to our families ?
Not only should you desire forgiveness simply because it was given so freely to you, but also, the Bible tells us that there are consequences for unforgiveness. Jesus said, “If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15, NASB). Seek forgiveness not only for the sake of your family, but also for yourself.
Over time, disappointment in your family can turn into its own form of bitterness. As always, the Word of God shines brilliant light on this darkness. “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
I wonder how many hurting families would be healed if Christian husbands and wives learned to love mercy as much as they love justice?
2. Bitterness doesn’t give your family a chance to repent.
Bitterness often comes from hurt that has been suppressed without communication, like filling up a bottle with pressure—eventually that bottle will explode. In the same way, the outburst in your heart can result in a broken family. In this case, go ahead and tell them what’s been bothering you. Sit down and try to work it out.
You may ask, “How many times does my family have to do something before I’m justified in my bitterness?” Peter had a similar question in Matthew 18:21 (NASB). He asked, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus replied in verse 22, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
No matter how many times your family may do something, you are still responsible for forgiving them.
3. Bitterness spreads.
Have you ever seen a piece of moldy bread? It appears that there is only one ruined area, but if you were to look at the bread through a microscope, you would see long roots spreading throughout the slice. What appears on the surface doesn’t reflect what’s really happening below.
Bitterness grows the same way. One little bit of bitterness can start to spread throughout your heart and contaminate your whole body. It will start to manifest itself in your attitude, demeanor, and even your health.
In addition, the spreading can also affect your children and your family. Have you ever noticed how one person’s criticism makes everyone else critical, too? It’s the same with bitterness. Paul compares it to yeast when he writes, “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:6). When you allow bitterness into your life, it extends to your family, your church body, and everyone else involved in your life.
Here are four steps to take to begin healing from bitterness:
1. Confess your bitterness as a sin.
It’s so easy to justify our attitude when we’ve been hurt, but the Bible teaches that bitterness is a sin. Hebrews 12:14-15 says, “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…” You must seek peace with your family and the grace to forgive.
2. Ask for God’s strength to forgive your family and diligently seek that forgiveness.
In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul exhorts us to “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
It’s hard to be tender-hearted to a family who has hurt you, but it is possible. We have the power to forgive because Christ forgave us, and He gives us strength through the Holy Spirit.
3. Make a list of your hurts and find a time to talk to your family about it.
After you’ve made your list, pray about which things you can let go and which need to be resolved. If you can let them go, then do so. You may want to physically scratch off each one that you can forgive as an act of faith. Then for those transgressions that are left, ask God to give you the strength to talk to your family about them.
Before talking to your family, let them know that you plan to set aside some undistracted time for you to talk about some issues. As you talk, keep the discussion productive. Start by confessing your own sins to your family. Then talk about your hurts. Don’t just dump all your irritations and criticisms on your family , but speak in love, rationally and gently.
If you feel like you can’t talk to your family alone, then ask a pastor or mentor couple to join you in the discussion. Make sure your family knows that someone else will be there. Once you begin, your family may deny the behavior or even become irritated. But the object of the discussion is to expose the wounds, not to accuse. Keep love the main motivator of your communication.
4. Worry about changing yourself, not your family.
You cannot change your family — only God can. But what you can do is allow God to change your heart. If you have a log of bitterness in your own eye, how can you take the speck out of your family’s eye? (Matthew 7:3). You, too, have made choices in this relationship that have hurt your family and need to be mended. Even though your family’s sin goes unresolved for now, they will answer for it one day before God (Matthew 10:26). In the same way, God will hold you responsible for the bitterness in your heart.
Categories: Daily Rants