Yesterday, I talked about love. Today, we are going to the other end of the pendulum: bitterness, hate, and it’s partner, co-conspirator unforgiveness.
Have you ever seen one of those boa constrictors up close, or any kind of constrictor for that matter? Well, even if you haven’t, most likely you know how these reptiles wrap their bodies around their prey and squeeze and squeeze until, well, all the life has departed.
I remember a time in my life (well, a long extended period of time) when I harbored unforgiveness in my heart. At first, it all seemed very justifiable. Someone had wronged me and I got upset. Then, I gave voice to my agitation and I got others to agree with me, so they too could see that my anger (See how quickly that grew?) was warrantable. Let’s read Ephesians 4:26-27: “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
What God is saying is this: “Don’t harbor unforgiveness.” Why? Because the Devil will use it against you.
I can hear you now, “Ugh, another religious rule.”
No. Another precious guideline that our Father gives us so that we will have abounding joy, peace, and love. You know what happens when you hold on to the hurt someone caused you? Like the helpless prey in the constrictor’s grasp, your heart begins to choke. Little by little your life (that peace, love, and joy, I mentioned) gets taken from you. Your heart, once alive and full, is gasping for relief.
Please don’t think I am some wise sage or theologian. I tell you this from my own experience; my own hurts and regrets. Imagine spending years of your life angry at people who had no idea, nor would they have even cared if they did know. I wasn’t hurting them by holding on to anger. I was only hurting myself. I don’t know the extent of my unforgiveness, but I can say, “I was a very miserable person for an exceptionally long time.” God wants us to forgive. One, because he loves us so much and doesn’t want to see us succumb to such pain. Two, He says that if we don’t forgive others, He won’t forgive us (Matthew 6:15). And Lord knows, I need His forgiveness all the time.
The sad thing is, people are always going to disappoint us. They are always going to let us down. And yes, there are times when anger and hatred seem like justifiable emotions, but don’t allow those emotions to constrict you so much so that you miss out on the life and promises God has for you. Ask God to help you forgive today. Don’t miss out on one more day because someone else did you wrong.