Are you bitter or holding grudges against people who have offended you?
In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus made a statement of enormous importance. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. "
Many a prayer gets no higher than the ceiling because you are holding inner resentment and bitterness against another person. In fact, Jesus says we must forgive people "from the heart." Matthew 18:35, "So my heavenly Father also will do to you, if each of you from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." It is common for people to "say" they have forgiven someone when in their heart, they really haven't.
Many people hold secret bitterness against friends or family members. In other cases, it may be toward strangers who have wronged you. Especially today, believers need to be aware that we can develop bitterness toward godless politicians, social activists, and entertainers who attack our values. No doubt, we must always stand strong for truth, but we must never harbor hatred against those who attack us. We must never cease to hate sin, but we must always love the sinner. Ask God to search your heart and reveal any patterns of bitterness or unforgiveness.
It is also possible to hold secret bitterness against God. Some people privately resent the fact that God allowed some personal tragedy or didn't answer an urgent prayer. Others harbor bitterness because God blesses others in ways He has not blessed them. Far too many Christians have cooled off in their service and worship because they are hurt or disappointed.
Questions for Reflection: Is there anyone or any situation about which you harbor the slightest bitterness or resentment? Have you secretly resented God for allowing some painful situations in your life? Have you "cooled off" toward God because He disappointed you in some manner? Be honest with yourself and fully confess these sins. Make a definite decision to harbor no bitterness against anyone. And remember, forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Yet if you choose to forgive, God will change your feelings.
As we confess our sins of unforgiveness and subsequent bitterness, may we be cognizant that Christ's indwelling power is sufficient to give us victory (Col. 1:27). If He has forgiven us, surely, by the power of His shed blood, we can forgive everyone who has ever harmed or hurt us. As we plead His precious blood and trust in His fullness we can forgive and love the worst of sinners.