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Your daily dose of true beauty advice… We are functioning as a judge when we remain bitter against someone. We assess the evidence against someone, render a verdict, and declare him guilty. James challenges our judgmentalism: “There is only one Lawgiver … Continue reading

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You’ve probably heard the story Jesus told of the servant who owed a king a huge amount of money. The king forgave the servant, but that servant refused to forgive someone else who owed him a small amount.

The king found out about it and was angry. Jesus said that the king “turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” One translation says, “He turned him over to tormentors.”

When we refuse to forgive, God turns us over to tormentors. I think those can include the chronic emotional and physical disorders that many women experience. In some cases those problems come from unforgiveness. You see, God never intended that our bodies should hold up under the weight of bitterness and unforgiveness.

Is there some debt you’re still trying to collect? Do you want to be free from the torment? Then choose to cancel the debt and forgive.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Tormentors

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like people who are able to turn a headache into a hallelujah. That’s why I love the story of David in the Old Testament. I mean, one minute this guy is flat-on-his-face in sackcloth and ashes, the next, he’s dancing before the Lord in joy. In the space of just one psalm, David cries, rants, teeters on the edge of doubt, then does a complete turnabout, confesses, repents, and ultimately rejoices in praise. And that’s why he’s my kind of guy.

I can identify with someone for whom obedience does not always come easy. I remember when a broken neck took me on a roller coaster of doubting then trusting; trusting then doubting. But those ups and downs eventually got me seriously thinking about Christ’s lordship in my life. And I’m still learning. So keep seeking after God’s heart today and turn your headaches into hallelujahs! 

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Headaches into Hallelujahs

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For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You! —Psalm 84:11-12, NASB 

I learned those verses from Psalm 84 when I was a teenager. I relished the thought, No good thing does he withhold… The way I figured it, I just needed to do my homework, finish my chores, keep myself from spats with my sisters, be nice to Aunt Kitty, go to church, say my prayers…and…I assumed that if I kept my nose clean, God would give me good grades, good friends, a good college to attend, and good knees to last me through field hockey season. We think that if we are obedient, God will give us financial blessings or trials that can be easily managed. If we do our part, God will dole out the good. Won’t he? 

I’ve lived long enough in this wheelchair to know that sometimes our idea of “good” is very different from God’s. So how do we read Psalm 84? If our walk is blameless, God will not withhold peace. He will not withhold virtue or faith or courage. He will not withhold grace when we come to him in need. We will be able to run spiritually and not grow weary; we’ll be able to walk in faith and not faint. He will not withhold opportunities to sow his seed, to shine his light. He will not withhold patience or endurance or the favor of his nearness and sweetness. He will not withhold the gift of heaven-sent joy. None of these things will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 

Some of God’s best gifts must be unwrapped in the darkness. Think of your last major trial. What “good thing” did the Lord slip into your hands in those difficult days? 

Lord, lift my gaze to see life from your perspective. Help me to understand-and treasure-every good thing you send from heaven.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “God’s Idea of Good,” November 18 Daily Devotional

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Although I’m paralyzed from the shoulders down, there are a lot of people who are paralyzed from the shoulders up. They are paralyzed by envy or bitter, hard feelings. And, hey, maybe it’s time you had a check-up from the neck up.

Ephesians 4 says, “Get rid of every sort of bitterness…be kind toward one another, tenderhearted, mutually forgiving, even as God has in Christ forgiven you.” We handicap ourselves when we allow bitterness to fester.

A lot of people may wink at bitter, hard feelings, thinking it’s far worse to be paralyzed, but they’re wrong—I’ve lived in both camps, and I’d rather be confined to a wheelchair than be confined by hard feelings toward others! Today, follow the advice of Ephesians 4 and make a Holy Spirit-inspired effort to shut the door on every sort of bitterness. When you do, you’ll pass the check-up from the neck up!

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Check-Up from the Neck Up

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When I was in junior high, some friends and I discovered mercury. We were in an out-of-control science class, and we had too-easy access to the chemical cabinet. We started experimenting with different chemicals, and mercury was our favorite…We were fascinated by mercury, and we were extremely foolish. Much later, as a chemistry major, I learned that mercury is highly toxic. Get mercury in your system, and it will go to your brain and make you crazy (literally)…

Bitterness is like mercury. It is tempting to play with it. we can stew for hours on end thinking about how we have been treated unfairly and how we hope that someday justice will be done. We slide bitterness around in our minds and slip some of it into our pockets. And we are oh so foolish because all the while it is attacking our bones (Proverbs 14:30). Fooling around with bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping that someone else will die…

Bitterness is not something done to us. Others may create a situation that tempts you to be bitter, but if you live with bitterness, you do so because you have invited it to be your houseguest.

You can defeat bitterness in these ways:

  • Trust God’s justice and providence.
  • Listen to wise people.
  • Love those people to whom you are close.
  • Decide not to sin.

Beat bitterness, or it will beat you. 

~Chris Brauns in Unpacking Forgiveness

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[U]nforgiveness not only makes you a prisoner to your own past but unforgiveness produces bitterness. It produces bitterness. The cumulative effect of remembering without forgiveness some offense done against you no matter how brief the time or long the time is that you become a bitter person… Bitterness is not just a sin, it is an infection. And it will infect your whole life. And bitterness can be directly traced to the failure to forgive. It makes you become caustic, it makes you become sarcastic. It makes you condemning. It gives you a nasty disposition, harassed by the memories of what you can’t forgive, your thoughts become malignant toward others, you get a distorted view of life and you have literally diseased your whole existence. Anger begins to rage in you and it can easily get out of control. Your emotions begin to run wild. Your mind becomes the victim of that. You entertain continuing thoughts of revenge. And what happens? Even casual conversation becomes a forum for slander, a forum for gossip, a forum for innuendo against the offender and your flesh, that horrible remnant of your old self, has gained control.

I suppose this happens most notably and most frequently in marriages. Two Christians married to one another should never be divorced. They should never be separated and they should enjoy a happy relationship. That’s by God’s design. Now when I got married I married a sinner. What is even more unthinkable is so did my wife. And the fact of the matter is that it is an utter impossibility for us not to offend each other. It doesn’t just happen now and then through the year, it happens quite regularly. But where forgiveness operates an offense is one moment in time come and gone. Where there is no forgiveness for that there is the accumulated bitterness that begins to turn you against your own partner, that makes you caustic and sarcastic. You shut off your affection, you shut off your kindness. You look for ways to get back and the bitterness results in the devastation of the relationship. Forgiveness, on the other hand, dispels bitterness and replaces it with love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. Why would anybody want to live in the prison of their past? Why would anybody want to live with accumulated bitterness that makes them violate every relationship?

~John MacArthur in “The Actions of One Who Forgives

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The Heart of a Hoarder

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

I really need to clean out my closet. The task is one I’ve intended to deal with for some time now, but this week I discovered the motivation necessary to get the job done. I watched Hoarders.

In case you’ve never watched the program, let me explain. Hoarders gives you an up close and personal look at the living conditions of, yes, you guessed it, hoarders. All you need to do is watch this show one time, and you’ll be cured of the desire to keep anything in your home that isn’t essential to your daily survival. Refrigerators and freezers bulging with expired food, layers of dirty laundry serving as wall-to-wall carpeting, and piles of garbage littering floors, countertops, and furniture—these are just a few of the horrors hidden within the walls of a hoarder’s home.

While some hoarders recognize they have a problem, others believe their behavior is entirely reasonable. After all, there may be a day when they need that rusted-out toaster with the missing cord. Their stuff provides them with security. If everyone he knows abandons him, at least the hoarder won’t be alone–his stuff will always be with him. Oftentimes a hoarder’s bizarre behavior forces him to a crossroads—he can have relationships with people or he can keep his stuff. Relationships rarely win out.

I watch each episode in a state of perpetual astonishment. How could anyone live like this? Don’t they realize how messed up this is? Why in the world would someone feel so attached to things that are entirely worthless? Although I can’t imagine living with such an unhealthy attachment to material possessions, I’ve recently realized that I have a tendency to do a little hoarding of my own. I’m not talking about the clutter in my closet this time; I’m talking about the clutter that often crowds my soul. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

There’s a tendency within many of us to hoard the hurts we’ve experienced in life just like a hoarder piles up his treasured possessions. Imagine that your heart is a home. Is it clean and organized or cluttered and crowded with unresolved conflict, bitterness, and unforgiveness? Perhaps in one room you keep stacks of boxes stuffed with memories of wrongs done to you by your parents, in another, towers of old catalogs, each one filled with records of the sins your husband has committed against you. Other rooms are nearly uninhabitable due to the piles of unkind words, demeaning looks, forgotten birthdays, unnoticed efforts, and unspoken encouragement that have caused you pain and now remain forever preserved as a part of who you are.

If you’re like me, you probably know how destructive this practice is, this storing up of every hurt and wrong ever committed against you, yet somehow, all of this stuff gives you a sense of security. There may come a day when someone hurts you again, and you’ll need access to that list of offenses you’ve kept track of through the years to show them how great their sins are and why they’re unworthy of your forgiveness. You simply can’t bring yourself to throw it away.

Just like a hoarder’s experience, when we hold on to bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness, we’ll soon find our hearts too crowded to maintain relationships. Although they may begin by occupying only a small corner of our souls, sinful attitudes quickly multiply, attracting more and more garbage until eventually we have no space for fellowship with God or anyone else. Our Lord stands outside and knocks, but our worthless collection of bitter memories will prevent us from budging the door from its place.

How are we ever to clean a mess this big? Such a job is too great for us to handle on our own; we need the Holy Spirit’s help to empty our hearts of the trash we’ve been packing away over the years. Confession, repentance, and forgiveness–this is the Christian’s cleaning cycle, the process that frees our hearts to love God and others as we should. It’s not easy to let go of hurts we’ve held on to for so long, but our Savior lovingly guides us to see how damaging our bitterness is. He reminds us, “Because I’ve forgiven you, you have the power to forgive others. Because I’ve cleansed you of your sins, you can wipe away the record of offenses committed against you. Your security is not in your memories; it’s in Me. Let go of those things; you don’t need them. All you need is Me.”

Do you have the heart of a hoarder? It’s time to clean house. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24)

 

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Bitterness destroys love. It stirs up overwhelming “hurt” feelings. The sin of bitterness spreads and hurts other people. It is, foremost, a grievous sin against God. The key to repenting of bitterness is to “take every thought captive,” replace those bitter thoughts with kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving thoughts, and go the “second mile.” Truly, there is nothing that your husband has done that you cannot forgive. If your husband is not trustworthy, he can re-earn your trust. Regardless of whether your husband is a failure before God, you do not have to be. If your heart is hardened and bitter, won’t you pray right now and begin the process of repenting? Plan out how you can go the “second mile.” Write down your bitter thoughts and replace them with godly thoughts. If you are struggling with forgiving your husband, take a long time and think about all that the Lord has forgiven you. What is your prayer?

~Martha Peace in The Excellent Wife  

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Rejection or Resentment?

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

More wise counsel from The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

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