See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
If we want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the second Spirit-quencher we need to avoid is bitterness. Bitterness quenches the Spirit’s power to heal our hurts. Sooner or later, every one of us is going to be hurt deeply by somebody. It may be a friend who betrays us, a business associate who cheats us, a child who ignores us, or a mate who abandons us. We can hold on to those hurts and turn them over and over in our minds until they grow into tumors of bitterness, or we can respond to the grace of God to heal those hurts.
You see, the Bible teaches that every time you are hurt by somebody, God provides an antidote to that hurt: a soothing balm called the Holy Spirit of God. He gives you an extra measure of grace in order to deal with that offense. But you have to choose to accept that grace. That is why Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” When these hurts come into your life, do not fall short of receiving the grace that God offers you, because the only alternative is bitterness–a bitterness that will destroy you as well as everything and everyone around you.
How can you make sure you do not fall short of the grace of God and fall into the trap of bitterness? First of all, realize that offenses are inevitable. No matter how hard you try, you cannot control what people do to you–but you can control your response.
Second, reflect on God’s forgiveness of you. Before you say, “I refuse to forgive that person,” remember that God has forgiven you of an even greater debt. Forgiveness is the obligation of those who have been forgiven.
Third, release your offender from his obligation to you. Forgiveness is not about sweeping an offense under the rug or playing like it never happened. Real forgiveness acknowledges that a wrong has occurred and then releases the other person of the debt they owe you.
Finally, remember the consequences of unforgiveness. When you hold on to an offense that has been committed against you, it is like you are reliving that hurt over and over again. There are emotional consequences to unforgiveness, but even more serious are the spiritual consequences. Jesus said it very clearly in Matthew 6:15: “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Flame Throwers vs. Fire Extinguishers” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.