How can we love someone who has caused us so much grief? How can we move past the offense to forgive them and love them? Full of questions and with anger (even hatred) in our heart, bitterness takes hold. Craig Groeschel on page 115 of “The Christian Atheist” shares the following:
“The root of bitterness grows in the soil of hurt that has not been dealt with properly. Unknown to me, a root of bitterness started to grow in my heart. Roots absorb and store, and my heart absorbed and stored hurt, anger, hatred, and thoughts of revenge. Love keeps no wrong, but bitterness keeps detailed accounts. [Emphasis mine]“
God’s command for us to love others sincerely just as we love ourselves does not allow room for bitterness and hatred. In love, we are to forgive one another and lift each other up so that we may experience the grace of God:
Bitterness defiles. Forgiveness liberates and elevates.
Craig Groeschel in chapter 6 shares his battle with unforgiveness and bitterness towards the man who molested his sister and others. There was a lot of anger. There was enmity and hatred. Craig shares the “reluctant” path he traveled to forgiveness:
- Recognition – He recognized and was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the destructive force of bitterness in his life.
- Prayer – “God, I pray you work in his [the molester's] life.”
- Forgiveness – Colossians 3:13 “forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Forgiveness is not easy. But it is needed. Unforgiveness can destroy us and those around us. Bitterness can grow and defile many.
Who do you need to forgive today? Are you being defiled by a root of bitterness?
On page 122, Craig Groeschel concludes this chapter with the following paragraph:
“We Christian Atheists can rationalize as many excuses as we need to avoid forgiving. We Christians, however, can find in God the sheer strength to battle through the feelings of anger, hatred, and bitterness, and fight our way back to the cross. That’s where Christ forgave us. And that’s where, by faith, we can find the ability to forgive those who’ve wronged us.”
My prayer today is for each one of us to be convicted of any unforgiveness we are holding on to. May God help us to turn our hatred into love, our bitterness into forgiveness…that no one should miss the grace of God.
Forgiven people forgive!