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Bitterness buries the benefits of grace

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“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Acts 8:23

“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble and by this many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:14,15
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.“ Ephesians 4:32

Recently I sent a text to someone with whom I had lost touch. The reason behind the loss of contact is not nearly as important as the result. Her return text was filled with words conveying deep hurt and a sense of betrayal, but worse, an ugly evidence of bitterness. My heart broke as I read the words. I would never wound her deliberately or cause her pain, but there is little I can do now other than try to repair the damage that has been done.

The thing bothering me more than the injury she felt, was the bitterness that had clearly taken root in her life. We have had many conversations over the years we’ve known each other about the importance of forgiveness and allowing grace to those who have hurt us. The last contact I’d had with her was to pray with her and caution her about allowing an unforgiving spirit opportunity to taint her life. A rough patch she was going through had heavily wounded her and anger was consuming her.

Forgiving those who have hurt us is difficult, but not doing so binds us with cords of bitterness and hinders any forward progress. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Not because someone asks for it or deserves it, but because Jesus told us to forgive so our trespasses will be forgiven. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:24,25

When we fail to forgive as we have been forgiven we are disobedient to God. Not only that, but in failing to forgive as we have been forgiven, we allow a toehold for the enemy of our souls. Once he has a toehold he begins to build roots of bitterness in our lives, and as the roots of bitterness grow, the benefits of grace are buried in deception. The deception plays itself out in self-promotion, self-protection and selfishness. We want God’s grace for our lives, but we are unwilling to give it to others.

I will continue to pray for my friend and seek to restore our relationship. God is in the business of restoration, so I look to Him for guidance. As I follow His lead, obediently pursuing the paths of peace He lays before me, I know it will all turn out well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Olympics are in full swing and there has been a renewed interest in the Nancy Kerrigan – Tonya Harding event from 1994. The short video clearly demonstrates one of them hasn't moved beyond the moment.

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