Friday, 21 December 2012
More than medicine
Negative emotions are so rampant. We grow angry, feel insulted, and build resentment. Slowly but surely, grudges fill our hearts and minds. It requires a tremendous amount of emotional energy to keep a grudge going. When we nurse and hold onto grudges, we let bitterness grow within us. Bitterness is like a poison that can impair us physically, mentally and spiritually.
Another powerful negative emotion is guilt. When guilt about what we’ve done threaten to overwhelm us, we need to do something to gain a clear conscience. The apostle Paul stated: “I try with all my strength to always maintain a clear conscience before God and man” (Acts 24:16).
Pride is a big hindrance to getting a clear conscience. Our pride always tells us that we are right and others are wrong. But seldom is the case.
Sometimes we belittle people. We may not recognize their value and worth. At times we show no concern for other people and their welfare. We may even be party to the exploitation and oppression of the weak. Sometimes, we may be guilty of hatred, ungratefulness, resentment and so forth.
Whatever negativity has taken hold of us, we need to ask forgiveness. “If we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (1John 1:9). God is, in fact, waiting for us to approach Him. Similarly, whatever wrongs we have committed against other human beings, we need to ask those persons to forgive us. If we have caused any material damage, we have to make restitution for the same.
I realize, this may sound frightening or difficult. But this is necessary in order to cleanse your conscience. It is important to remember that although God readily forgives us, people may not be so willing. There may be someone who refuses your apology. If this happens, don’t worry; simply concentrate on sincerely and prayerfully doing your part. Leave the rest to the One who can heal all wounds, and melt all hearts. The end result is in God’s hands, not ours. We only need to do our part and leave the rest to Him.
Holding feelings of hurt and bitterness affects our spiritual and physical health. The Bible says: stop being mean, bad tempered and angry. Quarrelling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ (Ephesians 4:31-32).
How can we forgive people? When others do things against us, it is natural to feel offended. We often blame the offender for the problem. But the more we blame others, the more we build anger and dislike against them. Before we know it, we get worked up inside and waste a lot of time and energy.
Our body chemistry often gets upset in that agitated condition, and we become prone to certain kinds of sickness. We unnecessarily invite physical stress when we give in to wrong responses to unpleasant situations. Our muscles, nerves, and body systems are affected. What a price to pay for anger and bitterness!
As Christians, we know that God watches over the affairs of His children. Nothing happens to us that He doesn’t know about or that is out of His control. So what does this mean when we feel offended? Should we suppress our negative feelings when someone wrongs us? No. If you suppress such things, they will not go away; they will just find another outlet, or build up until on one particularly bad day, they explode.
It is much better to try and understand what is happening.
When someone has wronged you, try to find out whether you have contributed to the problem. If you are in the wrong too, the way forward is to take the initiative and do your best to rectify the situation. But let’s assume that you are innocent, that and the other person has wronged you without provocation. How do you forgive in that situation?
When someone has hurt you, especially if that person is 100% in the wrong, you have every reason to feel resentment. But what good will holding anger and bitterness do to you? Such responses only add to the problem, and could possibly cause you emotional or physical stress. Ultimately, you lose.
One way out is to view the offender differently. When we are up in an airplane, even skyscrapers look like matchboxes. The buildings are still tall, but they look tiny because our perspective has changed. You can begin to forgive with a similar change of perspective. Trusting God, you can boldly say that whatever anyone has done against you will be to your own advantage in the long run.
In this way, you can consider the wrongdoers, a tool in God’s hand. Just see the person as someone being used by God to bring blessing on you, even though that individual’s aim may have been to destroy you. If you believe so, you are ultimately going to be blessed through the offender’s action. Therefore there is no need to hold anger or bitterness.
With God’s help, you can turn your bitterness into forgiveness. You can stop being bad-tempered, and angry. You do not know what good may happen to you as a result of someone’s wrongdoings. But you can certainly prevent further harm that will flow from nursing resentment. You can learn how to forgive from the bottom of your heart, how to love the offender, and even how to show him or her, a little kindness.