I talk with many people who are bitter. At some point in their life they have been hurt by someone else and they have carried the pain of that event ever since. This pain has so integrated itself into them both emotionally and intellectually that it has actually become a part of their psyche.
The problem with this is that pain and bitterness are active in our life, not passive. If left unchecked, this root of bitterness will continue to grow deeper in us, filling us with anger and resentment. It will spread into our treatment of others, affecting our relationships. It will blossom into unhappiness, rage, wrath, spitefulness and unkindness. It can even have an effect on us physically.
You would think that any person would gladly turn loose of such a cancerous presence in their life. Sadly, many do not. For some reason, they nurse that grudge and treasure it like Gollum and the ring. It becomes their “precious”.
Why would they not release something that is so harmful? I have heard many excuses, without exception they are rooted in pride.
Some feel that by forgiving others, they are yielding their own right to be hurt and are empowering the one who hurt them. Some think that if they forgive, they are saying that the other person was right. Some believe that by forgiving, they are saying that what the other person did was okay. The bottom line is, they feel that they are entitled to carry the hurt, anger and bitterness.
None of this is true. Forgiveness actually empowers the one who forgives. Are they not the one who decides to not let the actions of others control how they feel? It certainly is not saying that the other person is justified in the wrong that they have done. That is not characteristic of the way God forgives us. God does not excuse our wrongdoing, He pardons it.
From the human perspective, it may indeed seem that we are entitled to withhold forgiveness. As Christians, however, we are commanded by God to forgive those who sin against us, so that our sins may be forgiven.
The next post in this series will deal with finding the grace to forgive.