The area of our lives that the devil is most easily able to gain a foothold… is when we have unforgiveness in our hearts. II Corinthians 2:10-11 tells us that we need to forgive in order that Satan might not outwit us. When we harbor unforgiveness, we allow the devil to capture a place in our heart…setting up a position – a base of operations for further advancement against us. We need to remain then vigilant…forgiving and forgetting quickly, so as not to allow him the ability to take advantage over us.
Most of us would be quick to deny any root of bitterness in our lives…but let’s think about it for a moment. Do you hold a grudge against someone who in your eyes disrespected you? Or are you resentful against someone who hurt your pride and caused you pain and embarrassment? You may not be able to even remember the details of the incident…but still anger rises up every time you think of that person. A root of bitterness can take on many faces and lie deep within…so deep that we even lie to ourselves about its very existence. But know that bitterness poisons your life and hinders God’s work in and through you. The answer is forgiveness…allowing the past to be the past. For forgiveness is not meant for the perpetrator, but for yourself.
Jesus was explaining to Simon Peter that the number of times we need to forgive one another is just arbitrary. It’s not about keeping a score card on that other person…for the act of forgiveness not about them at all. Forgiveness stems from the unlimitless capacity to forgive that Jesus first showed us while we were still sinners. So as Christians, we are compelled to show each other the same kind of forgiveness…for forgiveness comes out of love for the Lord and each other. The act of forgiveness is for our benefit, not others. For if we allow unforgiveness to fester inside, blame escalates, and with it, growing bitterness, which leads only to spiritual blight.
In Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth he’s stressing the need for forgiveness. One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to draw us into a attitude of unforgiveness towards others. He exploits our feelings of resentment and anger, and sadly our soul deteriorates as bitterness takes over.
Every once in a while I come across a person who enjoys holding onto bitterness. They recount to me impressive dates and details of past hurts and offenses. They wear these perceived insults as badges, ever brooding over them…playing them over and over in their minds. Pathetically, their vindictiveness and obsession has literally taken over their entire life. This root of bitterness has taken ahold, and grown into an ugly creature that no one can hardly recognize.