We are to keep our heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). What does it mean to keep our heart? This word from the Hebrew word natsar means: “to watch, guard, preserve, guard from dangers, observe, guard with fidelity, be kept close, and be blockaded.”
I would like to address a serious issue that affects the status of our heart, which is that of an unforgiving spirit.It is like a dangerous Dose of Poison.
A definition of poison: Any thing infectious, malignant, or noxious to health; to have a harmful influence on; corrupt:
One of the greatest enemies to a healthy spiritual heart is a root of bitterness from an unforgiving spirit. Many do not understand the dangers and consequences to us mentally, physically, and spiritually when we do not totally forgive others and ourselves. In essence, we grow a hard heart. We might say we forgive on the surface, but we never go deep enough to give total forgiveness to the one who has hurt us.The poison has started taking effect.
If an unforgiving spirit is allowed to stay in the heart, bitterness and resentment will take root and grow to such an extent that they will eventually eat away at our ability to forgive. Hurt comes to us by many avenues:
·When you’ve been hurt and you can’t let go of it.
·When trust is broken
·Harsh or hurtful words that are spoken to you
·You were given unfair treatment.
·Through emotional, mental, or physical abuse.
·Pre-conceived ideas about a situation when in reality you did not see the whole picture.
·Incidents that happened long ago that stay in the mind like barbs.
·Unsettled disagreements that fester
·Unfair disadvantage in financial matters
·Lies were spoken against you.
·You’ve taken another’s offense personally.
·Bitterness from harm that came from a loved one.
·Bitter against God because of the problems you’re facing.
Abuse victims often blame themselves for the wrong that has been done to them. It is a favorite ploy of the devil to deceive the mind of young children and adults who have suffered such awful offenses. It becomes very difficult for an abused person to forgive themselves as well as others.
Even in these difficult situations we are commanded to forgive. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is self.
When we allow resentment and bitterness to stay within us, it becomes like a poison. The poison never goes away. An unforgiving spirit is the root cause. Bitterness and resentfulness can manifest in the form of judgments, anger, unbelief, sickness, bitter words, negativity, stress, inferiority, timidity, and a hard heart to name a few. The poison must come out or it will infect the entire body.
When a hurting person tries to bury or deny a problem of resentment and bitterness, it will not stay buried. The poison of anger, inferiority, and guilt is still in the heart. If a Christian is holding on to such emotions they may not understand who they really are and the true nature of a loving God. The nature of God never stops loving.
Listen to the words of the Lord: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark -26). This is clear command to forgive. If unheeded, it will bring serious consequences.
Even those who are not Christians gain by totaling forgiving. Not just on the surface, but deep down into the heart. I can think of situations where a child or loved-one has been killed because a terrible incident of abuse or murder and the perpetrator was put into prison. The trials are long, bringing open wounds. There can be a hotbed of hatred and anger. But when loved ones forgive the perpetrator, liberty comes to their soul, whether or not the offender cares to change. When victims refuse or are unable to forgive, they create a “jail” of their own making. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we are set free even if the perpetrator never asks for our forgiveness. This brings about a wonderful sense of liberation for us. We are then free to love.
Here is one way to know your heart. If you have an unforgiving spirit toward a person, then you’ll notice that when their name comes before you, or an incident happens that involves them, you’ll experience what I call a “ping.” The ping is an instantaneous feeling of resentment or dislike. You don’t want to reach out and love them. You find it easy to magnify the other person’s faults and bring judgment upon them while being unaware of the ugliness in your own heart. Each one of us knows when we have not truly forgiven and forgotten. This unresolved hurt causes us to respond angrily or negatively. The matter is never settled within our soul, and there is no peace in this area. We rehearse issues over and over in our mind. Often the resentment spills out at a most unlikely time. Every one knows who or what is his or her “ping.”
Picture a little gate to the entrance of your mind. When we harbor any hurt, resentment, an unforgiving spirit, and so on, we have allowed that gate to be opened and the deceptions of the devil to enter our mind. He loves to mess with our minds. It can be so subtle that we do not realize the source. Satan knows how important it is to God that we forgive others, and he will do his best to add fuel to the fire of hurt and resentments. We then become deceived about our own need. Everything becomes someone else’s fault.
Why is having an unforgiving spirit such a serious problem? Because there was One who had to die because of it. Jesus bore the brutality of all our sins, and every offense was nailed to the cross. Jesus’ love was and is unconditional, and His mercy abounds. He was the supreme example of forgiving those who reviled Him, hated Him, and treated Him unjustly. In His love by way of Calvary, He provided a way for us to also forgive and love others. Therefore, we are without excuse if we do not forgive.
Good news:Total forgiveness sets us free to enjoy peace, joy, and love. The memory of the hurt may not go away, but it will no longer sting. It does not matter what the other person is, does, or even says, the one who forgives will more easily bounce back from an offense done to him/her when he/she has set the offender free. Yes, the forgiver is totally free. The beauty of it all is that the one who forgives can pray successfully for the one who has been hurtful.
The only way out of the problem of having an unforgiving spirit is for us to repent and forgive the one who has hurt us. There is no other way.
When we forgive, a spiritual transaction takes place. God blesses those who seek peace and righteousness, and He does it in a marvelous way. When we ask forgiveness for our own sins, He forgives by the power of His blood and puts it behind Him. The Lord will not bring it up again. Satan will try to pollute your mind over and over again with the incident, and your flesh may want revenge, but the Lord never, ever does these things to you. Take authority over it again and do not allow the offense to stay in your mind.
If there is an issue you need to settle it before it is too late. The subtle thing about an unforgiving spirit is that it will infect everyone around the one who is holding on to such feelings. It ruins relationships and affects children as well the adults in the home. Unforgiveness is a source for bad decisions as well as emotional imbalances and physical calamities.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on these powerful words of edification: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you”(Ephesians 4:29-32). Wonderful companion verses to read can be found in Colossians 3:12-17.
The following verses are important ones to memorize: …Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (Matthew -35).
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matthew 15:19).
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart(Hebrews 4:12).
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength (Mark 12:3).
Herein is the antidote for the poison: We forgive.What follows is a peace that passes all understanding.
I trust you were blessed by the reading of this today.