Hebrews 12:14-15 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (KJV)
Bitterness or Forgiveness
“A Poison Tree” by William Blake is a simple short poem that illustrates a powerful truth for anyone who takes the time to read it. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175222
What is the “Poison Tree?” Answering that question from a professional vantage point depends upon your career path. For law enforcement personnel, it is anything that will jeopardize the legal and judicial strength of a case. Anything that does not follow established protocol is fruit of the “Poison Tree.” For educators, that same tree is anything that invalidates “Standardized Tests." So, wherever you find yourself professionally, not following established rules produces fruit from the “Poison Tree.”
How does that apply to us on a spiritual level? Every day and in every situation we have choices expressed through our reactions. Bitterness or forgiveness becomes the trees from which we consume fruit. Bitterness produces “Poison” fruit. Eventually bitterness will kill every good thing in our lives. Forgiveness, on the other hand, produces the fruit of “Life.” (Proverbs 17:9)
Presiding in the past, holding on to hurts, and sitting down surrounded by sorrows, feeds bitterness and drains life from us. God speaks to us again and again telling us, “Choose Life”. We chose life when we accepted Christ. We also choose life every time we forgive. Letting go of disappointments seems to be the most difficult action for many of us to take, but is by far the most rewarding. There really is no easy advice to make forgiveness happen other than to say, “Just do it.”
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (KJV)
Forgiveness and restoration is the path to life everlasting. Beyond what it does for us, forgiveness, our forgiveness, freely offered can heal relationships, turn our brothers and sisters back onto the path of righteousness. Bitterness only results in a slow and agonizing spiritual death. Forgiveness is the tree of life to all who choose to savor its fruit and stretch out under the shade of its branches. (Galatians 6:1)
Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. (KJV)
God reconciled us and called us to a ministry of reconciliation. Do not withhold forgiveness! The price is simply too high to pay. Be patient, show love to each other and do not allow bitterness to grow its deadly fruit in your life. The Word of God is clear: FORGIVE!
James 5:8-9, 19-20 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. …19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (NASB)
Thank you, Dawn Wilson for suggesting a post on forgiveness.