Do you know any older people that are consumed with bitterness and self-pity? Stop and look at how it has damaged their life, their relationships, their joy, their peace and their happiness. Take a hard look at the consequences. It is NOT worth it.
It takes a lot of emotional and mental energy to keep a wound open and feed a grudge. Anger and self-pity are a poison to our heart, spirit and soul that will eventually consume us. Unforgiveness gives bitterness a chance to take hold, and makes us a slave to the person we refuse to forgive. They occupy a room in our mind and consume our thoughts. They steal our energy, our joy and our peace.
Forgiveness is ultimately a SPIRITUAL BATTLE.
Forgiveness is an act of love and obedience to God. Our love for Him should be our primary motivation to be obedient to Him.
John 14:15 [Jesus] If you love Me, keep my commandments.
Matthew 6:14-15 [Jesus] If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
When you choose to hold on to anger, you are opening your soul to Satan’s attacks.
Ephesians 4:26-27 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
Psalm 37:8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.
All those sinful behaviors come from our old sinful nature. They do not reflect who we are in Christ. Our unforgiveness damages our relationship with God, damages our spiritual growth, keeps US in spiritual bondage, gives Satan a foothold into our soul, and can become a stronghold – a wall we build between us and God. James spells it out in even more detail:
James 3:14-17 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
Any time God gives us a command, it is for our GOOD, for our PROTECTION, and for our BEST. God knows that unforgiveness will destroy us. It also will quench the Holy Spirit in our lives. Unforgiveness is an all-consuming fire.
Colossians 3:8-10 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.
The truth is that forgiveness SETS US FREE.
We must make a conscious decision to empty ourselves every day of our PRIDE, our ANGER, our BITTERNESS and our UNFORGIVENESS. We must make a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts and guide us.
Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
1 Peter 1:14-19 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of Him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
There is no place for continued, deliberate disobedience to God in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.
Additional reading: Job 5:2, 18:4, Proverbs 14:17, 14:29, 16:32, 19:11, 25:23, James 1:19-20, 4:1-2, Psalm 4:4, 37:8, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Matthew 5:22, Galatians 5:20-24, 2 Timothy 2:23