“Bitterness is like a rock thrown into a placid pond; After its initial splash it sends out circular ripples that affect the whole pond. It starts with ourselves, expands to our spouse, then to our children, friends, and anyone we come in contact with.” (Pastor & Dr. Chuck Lynch)
People hurt, mistreat, abuse, abandon and betray us.
God sees and validates our pain. But he also tells us to pursue peace so that we do not fall short of His grace and let bitterness take root to defile us.
Bitterness comes when we hold on to hurt and refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. It affects everything around us and causes us to have a hardened heart. We can even take on a victim mentality where we feel constantly wronged by others. It will pollute our overall view of the world and affects how we treat people.
No matter what we are not entitled to our sinful responses to how others have hurt us. Doing so only causes separation between God, ourselves and others.
We can’t change people or make them see the error of their ways but God can. But we can take our wounded hearts, bitterness, and unforgiveness to the one who has shown us how to love mercy instead of demanding justice.
Bitterness hinders repentance and forgiveness in relationships. The cure for bitterness starts with our hearts. It’s not something we do flippantly or dismissively without considering the cost of the sin committed against us, its effects and the wounds left behind.
Ask Jesus to help you process the hurts and choose to forgive. You will then have a beautiful gift to offer others – true forgiveness from the heart. A heart that says what you did to me hurt me deeply, but I choose to forgive you and release you from a debt you cannot repay just as my precious Jesus forgave me and released me from mine.
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Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict. Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether. None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.
What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized. If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance was the name of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this. It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.
God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter. Nothing gets through unless it contains grace. Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.
The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
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