I’m sure this has happened to you. Some event, thing, situation in your life is consuming you. It is overwhelming. Then when you least expect it…BAM! God hits you with the perfect message, meant specifically for you. It is exactly what you needed to hear for whatever event, thing or situation you are dealing with. That totally happened to me today.
Our women’s Bible study at church is studying the book, Becoming a Woman of Freedom, by Cynthia Heald. I finished up chapter four and turned the page to chapter five. BAM! The title is Laying Aside Bitterness: Running with Forgiveness. The title alone convicted me. I was in for a treat. Through different events, things, situations, in my life God has been dumping the cold water messages of gossip, forgiveness, reconciliation over my head. No fun, right?
Brace yourself for this: Ephesians 4:25-32 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I cannot read this without thinking of situations in my own life and around me that could have been dealt with differently to prevent bitterness from taking hold. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we cannot learn how to address conflict with each other, what does that say to unbelievers? We are not called to simmer in our anger and share it with everyone we know. Neither are we called to avoid it and just leave. Scripture tells us clearly that we need to DEAL WITH IT! Do something useful and beneficial. If someone has hurt you, go to THAT person and speak with them. Chances are the issue can be dealt with, the problem can be solved, feelings will be spared and the relationship will be strengthened.
I am seeing and I hate to say it, participating in unnecessary gossip. So often as Christians we gossip, but hide it behind “sharing” and “prayer requests.” Before we speak, let’s start asking each other if we really are seeking wise counsel or if what we are about to say is gossiping. The above scripture from Ephesians says that we must use our words to build each other up and not tear each other down. Let’s be an example to unbelievers. Let us be kind, compassionate and forgiving. When we are we don’t give the devil a chance to get a foothold and bitterness cannot take root.
I am so excited for the discussion we will have Sunday during Bible study. I pray that God will be preparing our hearts this week and that He will work powerfully in us. As a handful of women in the congregation we have the opportunity to make a huge impact on our church.