Resentment, Anger, Bitterness
There are many examples that God provides us on how to conduct ourselves:
Prov. 19:11 – “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
Prov. 24:17, 18 – “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the Lord will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him.”
Prov. 25:21, 22 – “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
Romans 12:1,2 – “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Mark, 11:24 - 26 – “For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.”
We are created in God’s image. Therefore, we reflect God’s mercy and kindness. Forgiveness begins with our way of thinking and convicts our heart. We should seek God first to work on the renewal of our minds. By doing so, forgiving becomes easier. “Forgiveness involves both attitudes and actions. If you find it hard to feel forgiving of someone who has hurt you, try to act forgiving. If appropriate, tell this person you would like to heal your relationship. Give him a helping hand. Send him a gift. Smile at him. Many times you will discover that right actions lead to right feelings” Life Application Study Bible, pg 1985.
Forgiveness is not an easy task. People can hurt, abuse, criticize and attack our character. Sometimes things that people say can make it extremely difficult to let go of the hurt and pain we carry. We should always remember that it’s not the person but the spirit that is causing the problem. According to Galatians 5:16 –26, a Christ like spirit will yield Christ like behavior; love, joy, peace, kindness, self-control. A sinful, evil spirit will yield hatred, discord, jealousy, selfishness, etc. Which one are you? Are you reflecting God’s image? Even in our darkest most hurtful experiences we must remember who we represent.
Although we cannot control others we CAN control what we tell ourselves (i.e., the annoying little conversations we have in our head). One method is to replace an action or feeling with an alternate action or feeling. Whenever we mentally relive the pain inflicted by others or have thoughts of resentment towards others we should stop and replace them with other thoughts. Romans 12:21 reads “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Just as water puts out fire, goodness will always overcome evil. In some cases it can drive people away!! Below are forms of replacement:
Luke 6:35 – 38: “But love your enemies and be kind and do good [doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them] and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense (your reward) will be great (rich, strong, intense, and abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked. So be merciful (sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate) even as your Father is [all these]. Judge not and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released. Give and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into your bosom. For with the measure you deal out, it will be measured back to you.” Amplified
The key to this verse is, “and do good.” While others have wronged us we should replace resentment by doing good to them and others.
Matthew 5:43 – 45: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
The replacement behavior in this verse is blessing those that abuse us. Sometimes our minds get the best of us and we think negatively about those who have hurt us. Jesus is teaching us to bless these people so that we can release the pain we feel. He encourages us to pray for those who spite us. By returning good for evil, we are acknowledging God as the balancer of all accounts and trusting him to be the judge.
The ultimate benefit of being a forgiving people is that we will grow spiritually. God has promised a blessing to those who bless others. This does not mean that we still won’t feel the pain of our experiences. Let’s face it; as humans we will always feel and have emotions. If you fell and broke your leg, I am confident you would feel immense pain! Sure you could use painkillers to temporarily feel better but the pain is not the problem. The source of the problem is your broken bone! Your doctor would reset your leg and put a cast on it to give your leg the support it needs to heal. Likewise, when someone deeply hurts you your anger and grief are not the source of the problem—these are symptoms. It is resentment and holding on that results in feelings of pain long after the injury occurred. It is God who will reset your broken spirit and give you the support you need to heal.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John, 15:4-12.
As Christians, we are identified by the fruit we bear; love; peace; humility; forgiveness; patience; But most importantly, our fruit determines what tree we came from.