See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. -Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. -1 John 3:15 (NIV)
I come from a long line of people who know how to harbor grudges. If they could be paid for doing that, they’d all be rich!
I have one relative who literally held a grudge against her own mother for decades, after her mother separated her from her fiancé. Her grudge stood year after year…never visiting or speaking with her mother. Not seeing her mother when she was ill in her final years. Not seeing her mother on her deathbed, or at her funeral service.
That’s serious bitterness…and so poisonous to the soul that it will change you to your core. You give such power away and imprison yourself when you allow anyone else, or any external circumstance, to decide how you feel and how you react to others.
I’m sure there’s a certain amount of pride that would have to be surrendered to let go of resentment, which has probably festered into hatred. But these things are not of God. And as children of God, we most certainly cannot keep such things and the Holy Spirit in our hearts at the same time. We must choose.
Though it can be hard, it is ultimately freeing to choose forgiveness of anyone who you feel has wronged you. The bitterness…and maybe hatred…will only continue to poison and corrupt you, hardening your heart and shutting out God’s works through you.
Let it all go, and thank God for the healing He can now begin in you, and the freedom that comes with surrender.
Pastor Bill Gehm of Grace Church in Amarillo, Texas, speaks on bitterness and a brick in a woman’s lung. Check it out.