On Sunday, my Carolina Panthers walked all over the San Francisco 49ers in a NFL game that can best be described as “one sided.”
It feels great to watch your team win!
But it wasn’t that long ago that my same Panthers lost the Super Bowl by a score of 10 to 24 in that very same stadium in California. The sting of that loss is still felt by Carolinians today! And while this weekend’s victory in the Bay Area felt good, it’s a good reminder of how easily we can let disappointment poison our attitudes. Not just about something as silly as a football game, but towards our fellow man.
There are so many opportunities each and every day to feel wronged, taken advantage of, or mistreated by others. Many of us have been legitimately and deeply wounded at some point in our lives. Often, we are powerless to fight the circumstances that led to the original hurt. But the Bible teaches us that we ARE equipped to deal with the downstream effects of that pain, and whether we allow it to control us.
In Hebrews 12:14-15, the author says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Notice how the word “root” is used.
When dealing with the weeds in your yard, it is important to dig up the roots. Otherwise, they are sure to return.
The root of bitterness is the source of untold oppression in a believer’s life. Just like a real weed, it chokes out the nourishment that is supposed to flow from relationship with fellow believers.
So how do we pull up the roots of bitterness?
There is really only one way: forgiveness.
When Christ forgave us, he removed the thing (sin) that was choking our relationship with God the Father. When we forgive others, we remove the thing that is choking our relationship with other people.
To hold on to bitterness is to stay in self-deception! We fool ourselves into thinking that we can be in control – that we are master of our lives and without the need for relationship with other people. Bitterness tricks us into incarcerating ourselves into a false sense of freedom.
But through forgiveness, we obtain freedom. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone we come in contact with. Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!” Let’s walk in freedom from bitterness so that we can experience the life that Christ intended for His body!
PS. Go Panthers!