Apparently, God wants me to consider my bitterness toward others...
Not ONLY was our sermon at church today on the burden of a bitter heart, but the couples devotional that Jeff and I read in the morning is focused right now on MERCY. (The One Year Devotions for Couples, Ferguson.)
So let me ask you the question that our pastor posed for us today...
Is there anyone with whom you are angry?
Did a face pop into your mind? Did you whisper a name behind your lips? I did...
Then you, and I, are bitter.
(Insert cheesy Homer Simpson, "DOH!")
Yup. I'm bitter. Or, at least, I was...until the Holy Spirit finally opened my eyes to it today. The human in us longs to hold on to that pain. Why? Because it's hard for us to believe that OUR worst transgressions could be forgiven, so CERTAINLY we can hold on to the bitter memories of others doing US wrong...right?
But listen to just how forgiving our God is...
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103: 9-12
How about this?
Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19
Um...wow...this drums up in my mind the song by Casting Crowns... http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/castingcrowns/easttowest.html
Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
The best way for us to break free of our sins, is to forgive others for their sins. God gives us this great gift of his Sea of Forgetfulness, but we can find ourselves drowning in it as we struggle to keep hold of those chains of sin, guilt, and bitterness. They weigh us down, and continue to grow as our strength continues to fail. The murky waters start to hide the chains, and the sand we kick up begins to blacken out the light from above...we struggle to stay afloat in our bitterness and shame...all we need to do is let God cast those chains DEEP into the sea to be forgotten forever.
Why do we hold ON???
Our minds have learned that we want to win! We want to be right! We want the majority to vote in our favor and say, "Yeah! I'm on your side!" But God's vision is totally the opposite. He says that mercy will be the winner.
Mercy triumphs over judgement. James 2:13
If we fail to believe that our all powerful, ever-loving God is able to forgive us for our sins~then we have NO FAITH. Let's think about what all of this means! God sent Christ to die on the cross for us~for our transgressions. He bled and DIED so those sins could be cast away, flung to the ocean floor. If we cannot accept that, and if we cannot accept that he did this ONCE AND FOR ALL...we have NOTHING.
Forgiveness is not an option. Forgiveness, love and mercy are what God has shown us, and what he has commanded we show one another.
Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Micah 6:8
[Love] keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Cor. 13:5
You know that list? That list of names you have in your head of the people who have done the wrong thing, said the wrong thing, written the wrong thing, voted the wrong way, put the wrong sign in their yard? That list of "hurts"...like the time that so and so did this to you? All those things that we are ready to chat about in a text, or post on facebook, or sarcastically mention to the person next to us at our kids' soccer game? Guess what? God already forgave it. God already LOVES THAT PERSON all over again. Does that make your blood boil? Knowing that God loves that person JUST as much as he loves you? But you never did ANYTHING like what THAT person did. Really?
Bitterness will continue to grow, will continue to spread, will continue to chain you to your own sins, while that other person against whom you harbor such thoughts and feelings has been forgiven, and may not even REMEMBER that thing which is the root of your bitterness.
Okay, my heart is racing~blood pressure is up~and mind is spinning. I have a lot of forgiving to do tonight...but for some reason I already feel lighter, happier, freer, and closer to God than I have in a LONG, LONG time. I just got the green light to let go of all that pain from the past. Actually, the light was green for a while now...someone just started honking behind me and woke me up to the fact that this day is new, God's love is new, and his mercy is new for me today, tomorrow, and always.
How GREAT is our God?