Theme – ‘Issues of the Heart.’
In Ephesians 4:31 Paul writes, ‘Get rid of all bitterness.’ In my many years as a Pastor I have come across many people who are bitter. Their hearts are filled with resentment against others who have hurt them in the past. As a result of their bitterness they become miserable in spirit and find it difficult to trust anyone. Some of them suffer physically with various ailments of the body and others suffer emotionally and mentally. Bitterness is obviously not a good thing for anyone.
In Luke 17:3 – 10 the Lord Jesus tells us how we are to handle bitterness when faced with it.
- Confront the Offender – v.3. Sometimes people are not aware of just how much they hurt another and sometimes they may think they are helping another when in fact they are hurting them. They need to be told in a calm and sincere manner that they are hurting you.
- Forgive them openly – v.4. If that person honestly understands what they are doing and ask for your forgiveness, they do so. To forgive is to let go of the hard feelings and any desire you may have to get even with them. And there should be no limits on your forgiveness if the person honestly confesses to wrong doing.
- Forgive out of Obedience to the Lord – v.5 – 7. This is not easy. It is not something we want to do naturally. That is why the disciples said to the Lord, “Lord, increase our faith.” This kind of forgiveness arises out of a desire to obey Him.
- Forgive without being proud – v.10. It is very easy for us to become proud of our forgiveness of others and to think of ourselves as better than those we forgive. We must resist such an attitude. Forgiveness should humble us, not make us proud.
And every time you forgive someone who has offended you remember that we have offended the Lord many times over, and in His grace, He too offers us forgiveness when we tell Him we are sorry and ask Him to forgive us – ‘Forgive as the Lord forgave you, Colossians 3:13.