In this season of my life, bitterness is my greatest sin struggle. I have bottled up years of emotional hurt and pain and I’ve refused to confront the people who have hurt me. This has resulted in a deep and vindictive bitterness in my heart. I want to punish those who have hurt me. I want to make them admit they were wrong. However, I know my feelings are wrong, unloving, and Christian-like. What authority do I have to punish someone? Who am I to believe that I know their innermost thoughts and intentions? I don’t know what circumstances or sin struggles have lead people to do the things they do. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Deep down, I think I ultimately want someone to tell me that my feelings of hurt are justified. And they are. But God calls us to love others. In fact, He tells us that Love is the greatest of all things. Because of my pride and stubbornness, I don’t want ‘love’ to be interpreted as the validation of someone’s wrong decisions. This comes back to my desire to punish people. If I choose to show them grace, I feel I’ve lost the battle. I tossed and turned all night wondering why I feel this way. Why is life a game to me? A game where there is a winner and a loser. Someone is right and someone is wrong. The world is never this black or white. Its gray. The only way we can know how to navigate through life’s problems is through the road map God has provided for us: the Bible. And this is what the Bible says about love:
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
I read this passage last night and verses 4-7 really stuck out to me. Love is not prideful, love doesn’t demand its own way, and love keeps no record of wrong. I read these word and realize I have not loved well. Actually, according to these verses, I haven’t loved at all. I have demanded ‘justice’ and vengeance. But in Hebrews 10:30, the Lord says that he alone has the authority to avenge. I am impatient so I want judgement NOW. But the Lord is the ultimate judge, not me. It is not my duty or authority to punish God’s children.
So what is love and how can I show it? Love is not the validation one’s decisions. It’s validation despite one’s decisions. The validation of the PERSON. Love means showing grace because you were created in the image of God not because you earned it. I use the cliche “love the sinner, hate the sin” all the time but never put it into practice. In the end my bitterness is a loaded gun, aimed at the heart of sinners like me. It will lead to the destruction of my relationship with others and ultimately, my relationship with God. “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13). So today I start a quest for grace. A quest to rid myself of these sinful shackles, showing love and forgiveness to those who have hurt me. For “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
1 Peter 1:22
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”