“Now our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:13
Ok so lately I have been thinking about what Thanksgiving is really about. I mean I know it’s about the Pilgrims and the Indians having the first dinner together and all but it just is so much more than that. You see the Pilgrims left England for religious freedom and they were celebrating that very freedom. Like any American celebration food was involved, so they pulled their chairs up to the table and feasted on the wide array of dishes, together as one group. How cool is that? But ultimately, the fact that they celebrated their freedom is just so important.
I feel like I have gained freedom in so many areas in my life, and I will be celebrating that this Thursday, however, there is one area that still sneaks up on me every now and again. Today our Pastor was preaching on bitterness and the power of it. To be honest, I thought I was done with that whole subject, but guess what, I was wrong. So over the past two weeks, I have come before God and asked Him if there was any bitterness in my heart. Luke 11:10 says “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Well, I asked and He gently showed me some areas in my heart that I still rented a room to Mr. Bitter.
One of our household favorite snacks is buttered popcorn; I can just smell the butter right now as I tap the keys. A bowl of popcorn, a big glass of ice water and a movie, sounds great doesn’t it? That is until a few days later when that kernel of popcorn that decided to take cover under your molar surfaces. Aside from being painful, it just is plain annoying. Bitterness is the same way. You decide to forgive and move on in a relationship. As time goes on something happens that just trips you up and slams you right back in to Bitter Land. You wonder “Where in the heck did that come from?” But the fact is that we really haven’t fully forgiven.
The bible speaks over and over again about forgiveness. It tells us that if we forgive, our Heavenly Father will forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15). It says when we pray, do not hold anything against anyone so that our Father in Heaven will forgive our sins (Mark 11:25). It even tells us how many times to forgive (Mathew 18:21-22). Over and over again God is telling us to forgive. When we don’t forgive, it causes bitterness to take root. Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
As my Pastor said today, if you are bitter, that can infect the minds of the people around you. Think about it, how many times have you felt wronged in a situation? The first thing we want to do is share with a friend for comfort. Did you ever think about what that conversation did between the one who may have wronged you and the one you are sharing with? Even if you were completely right and the person asked for forgiveness, the bitterness has already been planted in the heart of the comforting friend. As the popcorn kernel has the potential to cause an infection under the gum line, so does the tree of bitterness infect the minds and hearts of all that are welcome into our world of hurt.
So I am pleading with God to not only prune the trees of bitterness in my heart, but to completely remove them for good. I pray that anyone that I have offended or wronged in the past will be doing the same. I encourage you to stop reading and take a minute right now and ask God if there is anyone you need to forgive. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Ok, now let’s pray every day for God to give us the ability to forgive once and for all. Then we can truly celebrate the freedom that God has intended for us all along.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you Pastor Randy, for consistently preaching the truth, even when it is painful to hear.