If for some odd reason you had to be stuck shoulder to shoulder to someone for the next year of your life, who would you choose?
Spouse, friend, a celebrity, Vladimir Putin and his bear riding self, Jimmy Fallon, Hillary, Shaq?
Now. . ….. . who is the person you would so despise being stuck to that you would rather gnaw your arm off like a raccoon in a trap before spending a year with them?
That person. That’s the one, kind of like the ingrown nail that you forget about until pressure is applied or it is bumped and you want to half scream and half bellow like a moose on the charge.
Let’s talk about that. Trust me, you need to. “Come on, Bob. Let it go. It’s not that big of deal, it’s not like I’m gonna act out on this, or punch them in the face or PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE!!! SO LET IT GO!!”
Listen, my concern isn’t that you are gonna act out or go postal. I get it, truth is, most people can “manage” these kind of things and stuff them inside like mature bitterness managing adults. I’m not talking to people that don’t “manage” it, those folks are incarcerated and don’t get much time to read blogs.
Unforgiveness and bitterness seem so harmless. It’s just something I keep inside that doesn’t affect anyone but me and besides, it’s my right and my prerogative.
That would be just fine if it really was harmless. I love this quote.
“Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”
Look at this. Galatians 6:8 “The person who sows through human means (sinful nature or the flesh) will harvest decay from human means, but the person who sows in the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit.” What does that mean? Simply said, we can respond out of our natural instincts of “eye for an eye” or we can extend mercy and forgiveness like we have been offered from God. I can respond like Him which is a pathway to freedom or I can respond with a desire for the other’s misfortune or demise.
The irony of unforgiveness is that you chain yourself to something in the past that you never wanted to go back to. Unforgiveness and bitterness become a curse that emotionally chain you to the one that you have an issue with until you set them free by forgiveness. The issue is in the past and if not buried with forgiveness it is holding onto something dead and decaying that will poison our soul. The irony is that most of the time the other person has moved on and now it is just you left in the past (emotionally) with a situation or person you despise. If they had not moved on they would have made amends (which makes us even more angry). Sometimes their action was intentional but most often people are just clumsy and hurt people inadvertently along the way.
Jesus said this, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”
Luke 6:27-28 NLT
Why would He say something like that!?!?? Was he just clueless? Has He never been wronged? Of course He has, you and I both have snubbed Him and hurt his children throughout our life in one way or another and He still extends mercy to you (it was my sin and yours that kept Him on the cross). He gives you the opportunity to be something or someone better than your mistake. He sees you as having more value and potential than defining you by your bad moment.
How do I even do that? What does that look like?
- Pray for God’s will in that person’s life. God has a plan for that person just like He has good plans for you. Do you want God’s good hopes and plans for your life? Then sow that into their life by praying it for them.
- Pray for God’s blessing on their life – this makes room for God’s plans in your life and theirs and in the end will be much better than your original ideas.
- Forgive them. Give them and the right to be the judge back to the Father. Unforgiveness and bitterness that are not dealt with reveal that we do not trust God to handle the situation and we think it is better in our hands. The reason it is eating at you is because you want a guilty verdict and for them to receive reparation. That is ultimately a guilty judgement on yourself because you are not a perfect person and therefore can’t throw a stone without it coming back to hit you.
- You won’t feel like it. .. do it anyways! I have had to make myself pray those words through clenched teeth sometimes. I didn’t feel like it. You never will at first. I honestly just did it because Jesus said to but I learned there was a secret result.
- Eventually, your emotions about that person will begin to change. You will be a able to see them as God sees them again. You will be set free from the prison you were in.
It is almost selfish in the end to pray for your enemies because it is a means to your freedom and blessing in your heart, soul and life.
Who are those that annoy or anger you the most today and for the most specific reasons? There are general things out there that yank our chain but who are the people or situations that have specific reasons for your anger or bitterness? They are the ones you probably should be praying for right now. Ask God for strength to help you. It really is an act of grace to forgive and it will require God’s help, go ahead and take it. You need it, get the poison out of your soul, freedom is sweet.
This is post is linked to 5 Tips for Spirit-Led Emotions .