Bitterness is like swallowing poison and expecting another person to die.
Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and then realizing you were the prisoner.
One of the greatest days of my life was when I chose to forgive the person who made the early years of my life hell. Jesus had changed my heart and showed me the need to forgive him. His Word was clear that I needed to forgive despite my reluctance. My heart rebelled greatly from the idea initially but God persisted. I was filled with fear over the idea of speaking with the person but pushed forward. Jesus said to forgive so I would forgive. Part of God helping us to forgive is to decide to forgive. God then helps us to do so. A funny thing happened when I conveyed that forgiveness to the person.
I got up my courage after hours of prayer and said “I forgive you” to one who did not deserve it and who did not ask for forgiveness. It was a work of God to get that out. The interesting thing was I thought I was doing a great thing for the person. I actually meant it too. I thought I was helping him so his response was surprising:
“What the ***** do you have to forgive me for?”
Satan was trying to destroy what God was doing. Forgiveness is truly only something that God can do in us. It was too late for Satan. God had already worked on me and true forgiveness and mercy filled my heart. The person’s response could do nothing to change that.
I suddenly realized that the forgiveness was just as important for me as it was for the wrongdoer. Because I followed God’s direction and let go, I was free and I was clean. I would no longer be pulled down by anger, loss, and bitterness. That is just not Jesus’s heart. I thought I was setting the wrongdoer free with a grand gesture for him. I thought it was giving up so much for his benefit. In truth, it was actually Jesus working in my heart to give me something amazing. His mercy on my bitter and angry heart was overwhelming.
It doesn’t matter what the wrongdoer has done to you today. Jesus says to forgive. Not for their benefit. They may or may not appreciate it. They may be just as awful as the day that they hurt you the first time. Forgiveness is for your good. A heart filled with unforgiveness is a heart that is not like Jesus’.
Be free and undefiled. Flee bitterness and forgive like Jesus forgave you.