Fourth in a six-week series on "forgiveness"
It will blind, bind and grind.
Without a doubt, one of the most powerful "forces" in the world are not bombs, bullets, rockets or missiles; neither is it economic clout or educational attainment.
Simple, unpretentious, sincere, self-giving Love. And, in reality, that’s only found in the heart of God and can only be experienced (and extended) by those who long to know Him (I Corinthians 13).
In contrast, another powerful force is forgiveness and its antithesis, unforgiveness. One will "release" and the other will "retain" (John 20:23). One will bless and the other will bind. That’s why we need to remember "The Dangers of Not Forgiving."
One of the biggest dangers is the developing of a "bitter root" inside of the one who refuses to forgive. In Hebrews 12:15, we read how this defiles our relationships with others; yet, too often we forget it also has a direct effect on our relationship with God.
A bitter root begins with a seed of resentment. Someone hurts us deeply by an unkind word or malicious deed. We begin mulling that "fiery dart/flaming arrow" (Ephesians 6:16) over in our mind … remembering every detail of the injustice in living color … continually recounting it to others … and soon that "seed" moves from the head into the heart.
Soon, the heart becomes a "hotbed of hatred." Each time we remember the incident or re-tell it to someone else, we fertilize and water the seed. Then it begins to grow, putting out feeler roots and a taproot. And, then out of our mouth will come barbed, venomous verbs and nasty nouns — particularly toward/about the one who’s hurt us.
But, without realizing it, we’re the main one being hurt by the inward bitterness.
Our tongue gets very sharp. Our words are sarcastic and cutting. Our attitude is cynical and condemning. Our actions are unloving and vindictive.
And, then we wonder why no one wants to be around us.
Truly, bitterness is one of the poisonous "fruits" of a bitter root. And, the one who has one is the one who’s blind to it, bound by it and constantly ground by its oppressiveness within and without.
Likewise, another danger is that of not being forgiven by God. Jesus was very clear after teaching His disciples (and us) how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13) about the correlation between forgiving and being forgiven. He said, "But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your (Heavenly) Father forgive your trespasses" (v.15).
Simply put, "If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven."
Pretty strong words of warning, aren’t they?
Most assuredly they are.
Therefore, it behooves us to hear and heed them rather than casually and callously disregard them. In fact, our eternal destiny hinges on whether or not we forgive!
None of us want to go to the doctor’s office and hear him say "You might want to sit down;" neither do we want to hear him use the "C" word in his diagnosis. But, if he does, we then have a choice of either believing him or not. Even if we go get a second opinion—and it’s still the same—we don’t condemn the doctor for the diagnosis.
And, so it is with unforgiveness.
Jesus, the Great Physician, has diagnosed us with a terminal disease called "sin." And, one of its deadliest expressions is refusing to forgive and developing a bitter root. Here’s praying you’ll accept His Prescription to "bless them who curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you" (Mt. 5:44). Only then can we be "the children of the Heavenly Father" (v.45) and experience His Love and Forgiveness. Only then.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled "Morning Manna," write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.