When You're Hurt, Choose Forgiveness over Bitterness
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV).
Everyone who is alive will be hurt, many times over. Sometimes you will be hurt intentionally. Other times someone will accidentally hurt you. The way you respond to hurt will determine how it affects you.
If you forgive, you can move on and find happiness. If you become bitter, you can let one hurt wreck your entire lifetime. You will find that bitterness is a boomerang. It always comes back and hurts you more than anyone else.
Paul, one of the early Christians, talks about how destructive bitterness is. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, he says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV).
What is the antidote to the poison of bitterness? Forgiveness. Paul tells you to follow the example of God, who forgives you in Christ.
Is there anyone you may be bitter against? An old boyfriend or girlfriend? An employer? A former spouse? A parent or child? A teacher, neighbor, or friend? Let Jesus flush that bitterness out of your system. Choose to forgive that person, like God forgives you. Let God set you free from bitterness and make room for kindness and compassion in your heart.
When Jesus was teaching his followers how to pray, he told them to say this: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NIV).
In essence that’s saying, “Lord, forgive me as much as I forgive everybody else.” That is a tough standard! But if you follow it, and forgive people in the same way you want to be forgiven, it will help keep bitterness away.
You may have been hurt deeply. You may think it’s impossible for you to forgive—and it may be impossible for you to forgive on your own. That’s why you need Jesus Christ.
Only the power of God can replace hate with love and set you free from the bitterness that can grow from deep hurts.
Talk It Over
Who do you know who is living in bitterness? Who is living in the freedom of forgiveness? What differences do you see in their lives?
When have you experienced the freedom that comes from forgiving someone?
What seeds of bitterness are in your heart? Write down the name of anyone you need to forgive, and ask God to help you let go of your bitterness as you forgive them.
This devotional © 2020 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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