Probably the greatest temptation Christians face is to give into bitterness.
Paul writes in Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
One quick thing on that verse: Bitterness is contagious.
I have found that the most difficult person to deal with is not the offended person - but those who pick up and carry someone else's offense. These kinds of people think that they are on a "mission from God," to make things right. :)
Let me give you some quick thoughts on overcoming bitterness - and perhaps you could prayerfully apply them today.
Acknowledge the problem.
Be willing to admit. Yes, I am bitter. I am angry. I am upset.
Stop feeding the bitterness.
Turn off the DVD in your mind - and stop replaying the event over and over again. Bitterness remembers details. The time, place, even the tone of the voice of the person who offended. Memorize Philippians 4:8 and think positive thoughts.
Don't make excuses for what happened.
The person who offended you may have been doing his or her best under the circumstances. But they still failed you. Moving into forgiveness requires acknowledging that failure.
Live in forgiveness
As God forgives us "unilaterally" - take the initiative to forgive. confess your desire and determination to forgive and then act on it. Remember, our feelings always follow our actions.
Give your emotions time
We choose to forgive - but then our emotions need time to catch up. Many times the way we feel toward the event or person will take a whole lot longer to parallel with that decision to forgive.
Offer you hand. Reconciliation is not the same as resolution. I can walk arm in arm with someone without seeing eye to eye. Contact with the person who offended you may be uncomfortable - but remember, you have decided to forgive.
Offer you bitterness as a love offering to God.
Give it to him. Package it up and mail it to the Lord. Ask him to use the experience for good in your life. You can pray, "Father, I give you my anger and bitterness today. I place it in your hands."
Renew your mind
Don't play the victim. This is hard for ALL of us. Instead of focusing on how you have been victimized, assume some responsibility for the way things have gone. Ask yourself, "what part did I play in this situation? What could I have done to make it better?"
Take charge of your present
Refuse to live in the past. Find something positive you can do and keep moving forward.
Know that God is in control and proclaim it!
Today, you can move from victim to victor by recognizing the sovereignty of God and the instantaneous availability of His grace in difficult times.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.