When we are hurt emotionally, the fastest way to stop the emotional bleeding is to put on the band-aid of bitterness. It keeps us from feeling the pain and on guard from being hurt again. It also keeps us from feeling God at work in our lives or His call to do His work.
God’s word warns, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springs up and cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) Once bitterness has taken root, it causes the wound to fester and grow. Anger, depression, anxiety…all grow out of bitterness.
To get rid of the ban aid of bitterness, we need to allow God to come in and clean the wound so that it can heal properly. Because even though it’s been covered up through various coping mechanisms, it is still there, and it still hurts. Like a cut that got infected, emotional wounds have to be cleaned to get rid of the infection and heal.
Like poison, bitterness can slowly kill us. It can harden our hearts when God points it out to us, we turn our back on what we need to do to get rid of it. The good news is that we have a Savior who can heal our broken hearts and bind up our wounds to no longer have to pretend that everything is okay and stop putting on a happy face when we are crying on the inside. Take your hurts to Jesus. He can clean out the wound, causing the infection of bitterness that makes your heart sick and prevents you from giving or receiving forgiveness and living in the fullness of His love and grace.
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.”