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Unforgiveness, Bitterness and Resentment
By Joyce Meyer
Many people ruin their lives and their health by eating the poison of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. Matthew 18:23-35 (Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.) tells us that, if we do not forgive people, we get turned over to the torturers. If you have a problem in this area or have ever had one, I am sure you bear witness with what I am saying. It is torture to have hateful thoughts rolling around inside of you toward another person.
Who Are You Helping When You Forgive?
Who are you helping the most when you forgive the person who hurt you? Actually, you are helping yourself more than the other person. I always looked at forgiving people who had hurt me as being a really hard thing to do. I thought it seemed so unfair for them to receive forgiveness when I had gotten hurt. I got pain, and they got free without having to pay for the pain they caused me. Now I realized that I am helping myself when I choose to forgive. I am helping the other person also by releasing them, so God can do what only He can do. If I am in the way, trying to get revenge or taking care of the situation myself instead of trusting and obeying God, He has no obligation to deal with that person. However, God will deal with the people who hurt us if we will put them in His hands through forgiveness. It is our seed of obedience to His Word; and once we have sown our seed, He will bring a harvest of blessing to us one way or another.
I am helping myself, because when I forgive I release God to work. I am happy when I am not full of the poison of unforgiveness. I feel better physically. Serious diseases can come as a result of the stress and pressure that bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness put on a person. Mark 11:22-26 (So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.") clearly teaches us that unforgiveness hinders our faith from working. The Father cannot forgive our sins if we do not forgive other people (we reap what we sow). Sow mercy, and you will reap mercy; sow judgement, and you will reap judgement. Do yourself a favor and forgive.
There are still more benefits of forgiveness. When you are willing to forgive, your fellowship with God has a free flow. Unforgiveness blocks it. Paul said that we are to forgive in order to keep Satan from getting an advantage over us “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”(2 Corinthians 2:10-11) Ephesians 4:26-27 ("Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”) says that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. Do not give the devil any such foothold or opportunity. Remember that the devil must have a foothold before he can get a stronghold. Be quick to forgive. Do not help the devil torture you. I also think it is hard to hate one person and love another. When we are full of wrong things, it is hard to treat anybody right. Even people you want to love may be suffering from your bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness.
How To Forgive
Like everything else, there are practical steps to forgiving people that must be taken if we are going to be successful at it. I asked the Lord why so many people seem to want to forgive and yet are not successful doing it. He said, "because they are not obeying what I tell them to do in the Word." As I searched the Word, I found the following instructions:
1. Decide - You will never forgive if you wait to feel like it. Choose to obey God and steadfastly resist the devil in his attempts to poison you again with bitter thoughts. Make a quality decision, and God will heal your wounded emotions in due time.
2. Depend - You cannot forgive without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is too hard to do on your own. If you are truly willing, God will enable you; but you are going to need to humble yourself and cry out to Him for help. In John 20:22-23 (And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."), Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." His next instruction was about forgiving people. We certainly can use this as an example and ask Him to breathe on us that we might be able to forgive those who hurt us.
3. Obey - There are several things we are told do in the Word concerning forgiving our enemies.
a. Pray for your enemies and those who abuse and misuse you. Pray for their happiness and welfare "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28 Amplified). As you pray, God may be able to give them revelation that will bring them out of deception. They may not even be aware they hurt you, or maybe they are aware but are so self-centered that they do not care. Either way, they need revelation.
b. Bless and do not curse them “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”(Romans 12:14) In the Greek, to bless means "to speak well of" and to curse means "to speak evil of." You cannot forgive and gossip or be a talebearer. You must stop repeating the offense. You cannot get over it and also continue to talk about it. Proverbs 17:9(He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.) says that he who seeks to cover an offense seeks love.
Who Should Forgive?
Forgive the person from long ago who hurt you very badly and also the person whom you did not know in the grocery store, for stepping on your toe. Take those two extremes and forgive them in addition to everyone in between. Forgive quickly. The quicker you do it, the easier it is. Forgive freely. Matthew 10:8 (Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.) says freely you have received, freely give. Forgiveness means to excuse a fault, absolve from payment, pardon, send away, cancel, and bestow favor unconditionally.
When you forgive, you must cancel the debt. Do not spend your life paying and collecting debts. Hebrews 10:30 (For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people.") says that vengeance belongs to the Lord; He will repay and settle the cases of His people. Let God pay you for past injustices; do not try to collect from the people who hurt you, because the people who hurt you cannot pay you. Matthew 18:25 says ..."he could not pay".
Also forgive yourself for past sins and for hurts you have caused others. You cannot pay people back, so ask God to.
Forgive God if you are angry at Him because your life did not turn out the way you thought it should. God is always just. There may be things you do not understand; but God loves you, and people make a serious mistake if they will not receive help from the only One who can truly help.
You may even need to forgive an object--the post office, bank, a certain store you feel cheated you, a car that always gave you trouble, etc. Get rid of all poison that comes from bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness; and remember Proverbs 4:23 (Amplified), "Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance...for out of it flow the springs of life."
Unforgiveness is spiritual filthiness; get washed in the water of the Word and stay clean. God bless you!
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