Thursday, August 09, 2012

Resentment And Forgiveness - Part 1 of 3

One of my favorite quotes is from a fella named Malachy McCourt which goes like this:

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Let me say that again:

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Isn’t that great?

Resentment, or bitterness, or unforgiveness, is destructive, bodily, mentally, and most important, spiritually.

And in this day and age, I don’t know of anyone who would really dispute the health aspects of unforgiveness. You don’t have to be a Bible-believer, as I obviously am, to understand the detrimental effects of unforgiveness.

Toxic Effects of Resentment

The toxic effects of unforgiveness on our body/mind systems are clinically documented as well. Unforgiveness:

-distresses the central nervous system;
-stresses the circulatory system;
-stresses the muscular-skeletal system;
-stresses the glandular (endocrine and lymphatic) systems; and
-depresses the immune system.

One expert named McInnis put it this way,

“Unforgiveness distresses my central nervous system by harboring such feelings as irritability, nervousness, anxiety, hostility, anger, resentment and depression.

“Its distress constricts my heart rate’s variability, a crucial measure of nervous system health, as well as my cardiovascular system’s flexibility. It also disrupts the harmony of my brain waves, making me less able to think clearly and to make good decisions.

“In addition to fostering cardiovascular inflexibility, unforgiveness distresses my circulatory system by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and arterial wall pressure.

“Unforgiveness distresses my muscular-skeletal system by increasing forehead muscle tension, thereby producing headaches, and by also producing other symptoms: stomach aches, muscle and joint aches, dizziness, and tiredness.

“Unforgiveness distresses my glandular system via unproductive adrenaline rushes in support of fight or flight responses. When neither of these responses occurs to utilize this energy boost, it dissipates by agitating my other body systems.

“As my unforgiveness invokes all of the foregoing mental, emotional and physical strain, it simultaneously depresses the ability of my immune system to ward off both acute and chronic disease.”

Now this should come as no surprise when we look at what God has to say about forgiveness.

Some Scriptural Wisdom

And as an introduction to the Biblical view of this subject, I just want to do a survey of some Scriptures that deal with this subject, make some general observations, and then in a later message, offer some Biblical help in this area.

In listing those things which are common to the ungodly, in Rom. 1:29-31, Paul writes this:

“...sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving...”

Now that's some pretty bad stuff, isn't it? But do you know what's next on Paul's list, there in verse 31?


A similar list occurs in 2 Timothy 3:2,3.

“For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Ah, but Ephesians 4:32 injects some life and breath into this unforgiveness situation. It says,

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."

Just as God in Christ forgave us? Yes, Ephesians 1:7 says,

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

Forgiveness of what sins? All of them. He has forgiven us of all our sins. Are there any sins of others that we may not forgive? Of course not. Again, Col. 1:14 says,

“ whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” And again, that's all of them.

And so it's reasonable for God to say to us, as He does in Col. 3:13,

“...bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also.”

Now I don't want this to be one of those “beat the sheep over the head with their duty” messages. I would contend that you already know your duty in forgiving others.

Yet you may not even really recognize that you are harboring resentment. Or you may recognize it, but have problems forgiving others.

And so, in two more messages in this three-part series, I want us to talk about what forgiveness really is, how to forgive, what hinders forgiveness, and so on.

But let me give you a preview by simply saying this. Forgiveness is one side of a coin. The other side of the same coin is Love. And love is the fruit of the Spirit, without which we are nothing, 1 Cor 13 says.

Pretty strong language, isn’t it? But we have love, shed about in our hearts by the Holy Spirit of God.

Next time we’ll talk about tapping into that rich store of Love.

Part 2
Part 3

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