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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

Forgiveness or Bitterness?

'How often should I forgive a brother?' Matthew 18:21


The Bible says, 'Then Peter came to him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him..."up to seventy times seven"' (Matthew 18:21-22). Seventy times seven equals 490 times. And it's your 'brother', someone you have to live or work with, whom you're called to forgive. In essence Jesus was saying, 'Forgive, and keep on forgiving if you want to have a relationship with this person.'


Let's face it, we all make mistakes because we're flawed in different ways. Perfection only exists in God. Recall Jesus' words: 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they do' (Luke 23:34). Truer words have never been spoken, and very few concepts are more significant to remember in a relationship. While it's perfectly normal to feel anger, and a natural human reaction to feel mistreated, there is a big difference between healthy anger and the corrosive emotion of bitterness. Bitterness is relational cancer. As Dr Maya Angelou said, '[Bitterness] feeds upon the host. It does nothing to the object of the displeasure.' In this case, the 'host' is your relationship, and forgiveness is the medication and the cure.


Bitterness is a root. Bitterness is something that goes deep. It’s something that spreads. And so, whenever you are dealing with bitterness. it’s really important to get to the root pain and that root cause of your bitterness and let the Lord deal with that. And just like we read in Proverbs, bitterness is something that if we stay in that emotional state, if we don’t deal with those thoughts and take those thoughts captive, it is going to build a wall around us. And it ends up showing up in every area of our lives if we don’t take it to Jesus, if we don’t deal with the pain and move on towards forgiveness.

Just like weeds, bitterness also can spread. So, if it’s not dealt with, it starts to leak out to every other area of our lives. So, once you’re bitter against one person, it’s super easy to get bitter against another person or see that same, maybe the offense that was made towards you, you start seeing that everywhere else. It’s not being paranoid, but it’s like whatever you look for, you find, right? And so, whenever you don’t deal with bitterness, it can start to spread to more people, more family members, maybe more people at your church, whatever it is.

And so, it’s so important that it be dealt with right away. And if it’s not dealt with, the effects will surely show up in your life. There’s always going to be maybe that bout of anger or that ping of jealousy or that bitterness that rises up whenever you’re talking to somebody. And so, realize that bitterness is a root that needs to be taken care of..

Jesus said, 'And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' (Luke 6:31). Offering the degree of forgiveness, you wish to receive ensures that your relationship stays healthy and free from the disease of bitterness. Is it sometimes hard to do? Yes, but if you pray, God will give you the grace to do it!

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