Posted by: tucsonjefe | March 27, 2009

Free from Resentment

Years ago I was visiting a friend who served as a missionary to Haiti.  In the course of my visit, he mentioned that he was not currently preaching because his heart was not pure toward the people.  He had developed resentment toward some as a result of some of their actions and attitudes. He said he could not stand to speak for the Lord until he could do so out of a heart of love.  Wow!  That would stop a lot of sermons this coming Sunday morning.  I was impressed that he recognized the danger of harbored anger. It is a deadly thing.  Anger when nurtured becomes resentment. Resentment when denied and hidden under a cloak of self-justification or supercilious sweetness becomes bitterness, and bitterness is poisonous.  If I am ministering to others, it is poisonous to the hearer.  It ministers wrath, not grace.  If left unresolved inside of me it causes all manner of problems, first spiritual, then physical. Anger is one of those red lights on the dashboard of my emotions that lets me know I need to stop and check under the hood. Continued bad feelings, hatred, or bitterness that I feel towards others is a sign that I need to forgive and forget.   Any event that continues to evoke anger after the passage of time is an area where forgiveness is needed.  A resentment is an area of anger which keeps coming back.  If I can’t tell the story without feeling the feelings, then the bitterness is not healed. Sometimes it is revealed when I am easily angered by people or situations that remind me of past wrongs and injuries.  A short temper today is often the result of a fuse already ignited by yesterday’s anger.


We all get angry. What we do with that anger is the difference in joy and bitterness.  What makes us angry is a telling gauge of our emotional and spiritual condition.  It shows us where we have tender areas that need help and healing.  Most anger is a reaction to a threat.  Our self-esteem, our security, or our relationships are threatened.  We react to defend ourselves.  The basis is really fear, but when there is nowhere to run, we turn to anger for the fight.  When I find myself angry toward someone or something, I try to find a time to stop and take a quick inventory of my reactions.  Where am I threatened?  Is my pride tweaked?  Are my finances endangered?  Am I jealous of some relationship? Having identified in me what is threatened, I must ask, “Why do I feel obligated to protect myself when God has said He will defend me in all these things?”  That tells me an area where I need to feed on the Word and grow in grace.  Having located my sore spot, I then must address the one who caused it.  There is one command toward men and one command only: love.  There is one response to offense and one response only: forgiveness.  To be free I must forgive the offender.  That often requires I use my faith, because my feelings are not always in line right away.  It is worth the effort.  Freedom from raging emotions is a wonderful thing.  Defensiveness is unseemly, unproductive, and always self-centered. It does, however, provide insight into my soul.


Scripture Reading:  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)


Somebody Said:  “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”– Carl Jung


Once in a great while I experience what I call righteous anger, like Jesus with the money-changers.  It is outrage at the victimization of the weak, a cry against injustice.  This is a different issue because it has no self component.  I am angry when I see children abused, the elderly fleeced, or justice miscarried.  Even in those cases, I must be sure not to harbor personal animosity, though I allow myself to be motivated to right the wrong.





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