Saturday, June 20, 2009

When Bitterness Invades the Heart

When Bitterness Invades the Heart

Our local community here in Columbus, Georgia was stunned in March of 2008 when Charles Johnston walked into Doctor's Hospital and fatally shot three people. Johnston, 64, went on a shooting rampage to avenge his mother’s death at the hospital. Charles Johnston played God that day. He was driven by bitterness. At his sentencing the families of the victims spoke…A member of one grieving family looked at Johnston and said, “I hope you rot in hell!” A member of another family looked at Johnston and said, “You’ve brought indescribable pain into our lives but we have forgiven you.”

The real benefit of forgiveness is not so much for the one being forgiven. Sometimes, they could care less. The real benefit is for the one doing the forgiving. They let go of the past so they can move on in their future. They release themselves so they can love again.

"He (Jesus) committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.”1 Peter 2:22-23

Jesus knew that the greatest injustice in all of history was about to happen when they dragged him to the cross. The righteous nature of Christ must surely have called out that this be made right. Make this crooked way straight. He knew this crime would bring all of humanity crashing down. But, Jesus committed this injustice to the Father of all justice and by doing that he was set free to love.
It is difficult to forgive because we are much bothered by injustice. In some sense we feel our forgiveness releases our offender from justice. Injustice is dealt with either in hell or on the cross. For those in Christ, it is dealt with on the cross. If we refuse to forgive and determine to harbor bitterness toward another Christian we bring dishonor to the cross.

"If you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins." Matt. 6:15

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