In this concluding article on bitterness, I want to further explore the matter of forgiveness. These thoughts are biblical truths which have been wonderfully organized and presented by a man (Heath Lambert) who has an organization that specializes in helping people overcome their “hurts” in life…the Biblical Counseling Center. Check it out here - https://biblicalcounseling.com/
The bible teaches us that we are to overflow with forgiveness toward others out of our own forgiveness from God. It is at the core of who we are.
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
But we also need to be honest that this forgiveness can be controversial because we can be sinned against in ways that are dramatic, egregious, and painful. There are people reading this who have been carrying pain and heartache for decades because of bad things that have happened to them..
I want you to explore three things with me, about forgiveness. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells a story about forgiveness. Please read that story now.
After reading that parable it would seem that the first thing it encourages us to do, in order to get over bitterness and have the ability to forgive, is to think about our own sin. The problem with the unforgiving servant in the parable in Matthew 18 is that he obsessed over the debt that he was owed, and not over the debt he had been forgiven.
This brings us to the second point we need to think about. We need to think about Jesus in Matthew 18. Is Jesus in this parable? Oh yes! We must think about the grace of Jesus in extending forgiveness to us in spite of our sin. Jesus, in fact, suffered the penalty of our sin, on the cross, so that he could forgive us. Powerful love! If each of us truly knew the depth of forgiveness that God has extended to us, how much easier it would be to forgive others.
It is not enough to think only about our own sin if we are to let go of bitterness. We have to think about the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. When we truly understand the grace that he has extended to us we will, if grace is operating at all, want to extend grace to others. In sum, if we want to overcome bitterness, we need to think about our own sin. But we also need to think about the grace of Jesus in covering our sin.
As an encouragement to you, consider this true story. A woman was bitter against her husband and said that she could never forgive him. She said that he had hurt her deeper than her love could go. The wise preacher she was speaking to said that this statement may be true, but that he could not hurt her deeper than the love of God could go! Meditate upon this.
The last thing to remember is that this process can take time. None of us have a forgiveness switch that we can just flip on to get over our hurts.
Perhaps, at first, you can only commit to leaving your bitterness and moving towards forgiveness. That is a good start. It is also important, if you have deep wounds, to find somebody to walk with you on your journey towards forgiveness. Finally, I want you to realize that Jesus Christ, by his grace (divine enablement), can conquer your bitterness. There is no power that can stand before his power and ability! Give it all to Him!
If you or someone you know needs assistance overcoming bitterness, reach out to us here at New Haven, soon!