While unpacking my office this quote fell out of a folder. There is no source named. Or author attributed. But it spoke to me in powerful way.
“Forgiveness is when you let go of resentment. We resent now. But when you carry resentment inside, it tears away at you. You become sick. You become a victim all over again. It can keep you from sleeping, eating, and thinking straight. It can keep you from going forward. One day we won’t resent anymore.”
Resentment is “the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, or person. Resentment can run the gamut from a minor annoyance to deep antagonism toward the target of your ire. But soon, very soon, resentment turns into bitterness.
The Bible commands “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:31-32)
Through years the I have witnessed people who carry a deep-seated resentment toward someone who slighted or maybe even hurt them with a serious emotional or physical injury. Sooner or later all of the sins cataloged in this verse are exoposed. Rage. Anger. Wrangling. Defamation. And venom spued forth in retaliation against the person of their vehemence.
The answer to overcoming resentment is simply forgiveness. Of course, the problem is that it’s not always so simple. Forgiveness requires a change of heart. An alternation of attitude. A spirit of humility. And letting go of selfish ambition, pompous pride, antagonistic stubbornness, unreasonable sensitivity or self-indulgent entitlement.
Jesus is our perfect example. While hanging on the cross enduring the taunts of his enemies, the rejection of his disciples and suffering excruciating agony he prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Likewise when Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr, was stoned by the Sanhedrin council who became Sanhedrin murderers, his dying words were, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Ax 7:60).
When the apostle Paul was arrested and falsely charged, his friends fled. But in recalling that time in his life he later wrote, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them” (I Tim. 4:16).
Forgiveness changes everything. Your perspective. Your spirit. Your mind. Your feelings. Your outlook on life. And your relationship with God. Jesus said, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:15).
John Mason in one of his books expresses the importance of forgiveness this way. “Living a life of unforgiveness is like leaving the parking brake on when you drive your car. It causes you to slow down and lose your momentum. One of the most expensive luxuries that you can possess is unforgivenesss toward someone. A deep-seated grudge in your life eats away at your peace of mind like a deadly cancer, destroying a vital organ of life. In fact, there are few things as pathetic and terrible to behold as the person who has harbored a grudge and hated for many years.”
Today, if you’re harboring some resentment. Let it go. Give it over to God. Offer unconditional forgiveness. And then see how much better you feel.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman