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Which will you choose — bitterness or to forgive?

One of the emotional and spiritual cancers of life is bitterness, which is the byproduct of anger. When something or someone violates our rights, it causes us to feel our well-being is threatened, leaving us disappointed and angry at the result. 

It poisons our entire being as we relive the injustice or failure over and over. 

Bitterness begins in our heart and gradually spreads to others. Resentment, however, is the sinful anger of not accepting what we do not like or want. It is directed not at a solution to the problem, but to keeping the problem alive. 

Bitterness is an unnecessary burden we should not have to endure. It may affect us physically with issues such as hypertension or heart problems. It could also affect us emotionally by causing depression or feelings of isolation. The most significant result of bitterness, however, could be spiritual separation from God, because we blame Him for allowing it to happen. 

We only hurt ourselves when we hold on to bitterness. The situation has no feelings and obviously, neither does the person who hurt us. 

Our discontent occurs when we refuse to accept something that has happened to us. We would rather make it worse by holding on to the painful situation than giving it to God so He can make it better. It all goes back to who is in control of our lives.    

Forgiveness is the cure that releases us from the bitterness. We must ask the Lord’s forgiveness for our rebellion against His authority over our lives. Even though it releases us, forgiveness does not remove the problem. We will, however, be free from the hold anger has over us. Our bitterness is the response to the hurt, not the cause. 

God’s Word says: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Bitterness causes God to work on us, whereas when we forgive, He can work through us. When we receive God’s forgiveness, we are then able to forgive others. We are releasing them from our judgment when we forgive, but they are still accountable to God.

We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. God is more interested in our hearts than our circumstances. If we give God our bitterness, He will give us His sweet spirit. We can choose to be bitter or choose to take the initiative and forgive.

Steve Conwell, pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church, is hearing mornings on WFLO and WVHL in “A Thought for Today.” His email address is SteveConwell@outlook.com.