Actor/writer Malachy McCourt once said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Let’s think back to a time when we were severely wounded by the words or actions of another person. Like many, perhaps we chose to hold silent our pain and take inward our resentment. The bitterness steeps, brewing and growing. Meanwhile, the perpetrator is innocent to our feelings and situation, perhaps going about his or her merry way. Are they suffering? No; they are mostly likely blissfully unaware. We and we alone are the ones who are in anguish.
Harboring unforgiveness only hurts our own hearts. It can lead to physical ailments and complaints. It can scar our other relationships. It can interrupt our prayer lives. It corrodes our spirits and begins to harden our hearts.
In Matthew 5 verses 23 and 24, Jesus specifically tells us to forgive the faults of others before coming before Him in worship or petition: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” It’s obvious that unforgiveness and resentment can be a conspicuous blockade when it comes to our communion with Him.
One root of bitterness can ruin the harvest we intend to bring in, marring our testimony and vandalizing our witness. Hebrews 12:15 states, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” When we hold in resentment and unforgiveness, it destroys us inside, and if we aren’t careful, we can bring others into our self-pity and bring down a fleet.
We see in Ephesians 4 (verses 31 and 32) clear steps on how to prevent resentment from eating away at our hearts: “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.”
Christ should be our prime example of how to live life. How to quickly forgive is just one of the things He’s shown us.