After over 65 years of ministry, we have developed the top 27 questions people ask us so we would like to share these questions each week for our weekly blog and share the answers as a resource for you all to use in your ministry, churches, and family.
Top ? #12 How Can I Overcome Hatred, Bitterness, and Resentment?
Answer: The only way to overcome strong feelings of hatred, bitterness, and resentment is to understand that we must forgive as God has forgiven us and allow God to repay wrongs done to us.
When we have been wronged in some way it is natural for us to have feelings of anger and resentment against the one who has offended us. However, if these emotions are not resolved we can end up being consumed by them so that we can think of nothing else. When we allow bitterness to control our thinking we are unable to glorify God and we become of little value for the cause of spreading the message of God’s love.
The most important step in overcoming these awful emotions is to forgive those who have wronged us. In order for us to be able to forgive others, we must have a strong appreciation for the forgiveness we have experienced in Christ. Each and every person has offended God by our deliberate disobedience to His will. Yet God loved us so much that rather than making us the object of His wrath, He provided a means by which we could be reconciled to Him. Through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God the father is restored as if we had never sinned.
There are two primary Greek words used to express forgiveness in the New Testament. The most commonly used word, aphiemi, carries the meaning of “to let go, give up a debt, keep no longer.” This word is most commonly used by Jesus in the gospels such as in Luke 17:3; “So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
The second word, charizomai, is used primarily by the Apostle Paul and means “to give graciously, give freely, graciously to restore one to another.” This word is used in Colossians 3:13 which says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Forgiveness is therefore an act of grace by which we let go of a wrong allowing our relationship to the offender to be restored. By forgiving others we are able to release the feelings of resentment which eat away at our hearts and create bitterness and negativity. Until we are able to let go of the anger we feel for the wrong that someone has committed against us we will never overcome the bitterness and resentment that builds up inside of us.
In many cases, full reconciliation can never take place because the offender refuses to admit to his wrong action. Even in such situations the one offended must be able to release the resentment for that wrong committed or he will forever be enslaved to its grip on his emotions.
We likewise cannot be consumed with a desire to repay the wrong or seek vengeance. We must understand that God is the only one that can appropriately judge the motives and actions of others. Likewise, we must trust Him to bring about justice. Romans 12:17-19 speaks to this issue.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
We see from the scriptures that in order for us to be free from feelings of bitterness and resentment we must be able to forgive in the way we were forgiven by God. We must also trust Him to administer justice when we have been wronged.
Please read the following verses: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Psalm 86:5; Jeremiah 31:34; Ephesians 4:32
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