“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing..’” (Luke 23:34, NIV 1984).
I was accused unjustly by a colleague at work this week and could not get it out of my mind. No matter how many times I gave it to the Lord, it bounced back in. I know I’ll eventually put on my big-boy pants and get over it, but right now it sticks like chewed gum to my imagination as I develop all kinds of future scenarios where I will come out victorious. It reminds me of the time my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Baumgartner, accused me of lying in front of the class when I asked her to correct a miss-graded answer on my test. That memory never left me and this resentment just won’t let go.
Resentment is a fascinating phenomenon. It is also a flat-out sin. Resentment is like an addictive drug that comes with a legitimate pain but then just won’t let go. We know it’s wrong but we keep going back to it. “I can’t believe he did that to me.” It begins as a painful squeezing of the heart but then starts to actually feel good as our imagination starts sorting out how we can get even. It begins with, “He hurt me,” and then leads to, “How can I hurt him back?”
It’s the development of that imaginative revenge and the bittersweet comfort of victimization that is so addictive.
Resentment is a flat-out sin. I know this, and yet it still tangles up my thinking.
It’s also a dangerous sin. Jesus told His disciples, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14, NIV 1984).
Of course, this pronouncement was uttered before the cross, where all was forgiven, but its importance to Christ, who forgave those who cursed Him while still on His cross, has not changed.
We must let it go.
I know of no way to do so other than to forgive—and to surrender our pain at the foot of the cross; surrender it over and over again until His forgiveness becomes ours and the painful comfort of resentment can no longer crawl back into hearts that are now His.
Release me from all resentment as I look to the cross and rest in your Holy Spirit.