FORGIVE AND FORGET
I have faced an angry elephant; I have faced a snarling lion; even been a few feet from a cunning leopard and lived to tell the story. These wild animals were not intentionally meaning me harm but were simply reacting to my unfamiliar presence in their territory or protecting their young. Generally a wild animal in the bush will not “deliberately” seek you out to harm you; they are more likely to slip away and melt into the bush to avoid a confrontation. Yet during my lifetime I have seen human individuals deliberately attack someone with viscous lies, rumors and false accusations; even though their victim is totally innocent. They become like venomous snakes whose bites can wreak havoc on their victim. Let me explain what I mean with an illustration:
A man who had been bitten by a rattlesnake was rushed to the hospital. When he asked the doctor, “Is it life-threatening?” the doctor said, “The bite isn’t, but the poison is.”! The man needed a powerful antidote of “anti-venom” to eradicate the effects of the poison in his body.
In life the “bites” we suffer at the hands of others are painful, harrowing and disturbing, but they are NOT lethal. The injustices we have heaped on us do not destroy us, but how we react to these experiences, can become lethal. Allowing bitterness to take control is a lethal cocktail to the soul. Like the rattlesnake’s venom; bitterness is toxic to our spiritual health. First it poisons our mind, then our relationships. It causes us to replay the hurt over and over again until it controls us, stealing our peace, our joy and the plans God has for us!
However there is an antidote for bitterness! The antidote is forgiveness! When Peter asked Jesus, “Should I forgive my brother seven times?” Jesus said, “No, you must forgive him seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22). In other words, “Forgive, and keep on forgiving until it no longer bothers you.”
The question is what causes bitterness?
The answer to this question is; anger.
Anger that we allow to develop in our heart will seethe and bubble until it fills our thought-life and becomes a toxin to our spiritual walk and relationship with God. Anger is a natural human emotion and if we channel it according to God’s purposes we will use it to tap into His power to remove the painful “bite” and bring healing to our shattered emotions. Uncontrolled anger will become long-term bitterness causing us to fixate on “the individual who did this to us.” This results in causing us to become hostile, critical, blaming and punitive.
Forgiveness becomes the vehicle to control our reactions and behaviors, thus starving our bitterness to death. In its place God will develop His attributes of love, peace and joy; daily enabling us to grow stronger in Him.
If you are struggling today from hurts and injustices that have been heaped on you, rest in the knowledge that God will fight the battle for you, trust the promises in His Word and soak in His healing love.