Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday September 2, 2016

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Let it go, Friend.

Yesterday, I decided to change the strings on my old guitar. Because I don’t use it so much anymore, it sometimes gets ignored. When I popped open the case, I had to chuckle. The strap that keeps the lid from flopping all the way open is broken, so it flopped and knocked a water bottle off the table. The fact that I chuckled was a testimony to the grace of God. There was a time when I would have felt genuine anger. You see, several years ago I loaned my guitar to a church member so he could practice. He kept it longer than agreed, and when I finally got it back it was a mess. Not only was the hinge strap broken, but the felt lining of the case was covered with white cat hair. It seems he left the case open so his cat could sleep in it. When I saw it, I was furious! My graciousness was insulted, my precious guitar case sullied. For months, the mention of this man’s name caused my belly to boil. I had a resentment!

Resentment is one of those warning lights on my spiritual dashboard that must be addressed if I want to live a free and productive Christian life. The word resentment comes from a Latin word that means “to feel again.” Anger that boils up every time I am reminded of an event tells me I still need to forgive and forget. If you have bitter emotions every time you tell the story, you have a resentment. If you are easily enraged by people or situations that remind you of past slights and injuries, you have a resentment. A temper explosion today is often the result of a fuse already ignited by yesterday’s anger. Resentment must be addressed at its spiritual roots.

When you diagnose a resentment, apply these steps:

  1. Acknowledge the serious nature of unforgiveness: Mark 11:25 / Matthew 6:12 / Hebrews 12:15 / Ephesians 4:30-32
  2. Write the name of the person toward whom you feel bitterness or resentment.
  3. List the specific incidents or characteristics that kindled your anger.
  4. For each incident, assess your own heart – what did their action threaten. Anger is always the result of a threat. Did it threaten your self-esteem? Did it threaten your financial well-being? Did it threaten your relationships? Jealousy is only a manifestation of resentment arising from fear of rejection.
  5. Can you see any area in these situations where you may have been wrong? Own your part in it.
  6. The Bible commands forgiveness, no matter what has been done. This is difficult. We cannot change our own emotions. Our part is to ask God to forgive us for our own sin, then change the way we act toward others:
    1. Matthew 18:21-35 Make an on-purpose decision to forgive: a decision, not a feeling. (Ephesians 4:30-32 / 1 John 4:7-11)
    2. Matthew 5:43-45 Begin praying for those who have harmed you. Ask the Lord to bless them.
    3. Ask the Lord to forgive you for your bitterness of heart. 1 John 1:9
    4. Think of ways to be a blessing to those who have harmed you. Romans 12:17-21
  7. Expect God to change your heart. Psalm 119:12

Somebody Said: When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. Bernard Metzer
Scripture Reading: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)

Resentment binds us forever to the past. In order to move forward into the good future God has planned, we have to deal with it. Though the offences may be real, the cost of vengeance and vindication is too high. Let’s git ‘er done.

Pastor Virgil



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