Have you ever found yourself in a position where you were pridefully judging others while being a mess yourself?
That’s how religion was before Jesus came along. It was externally focused. But thankfully Jesus came to heal us and make us whole from the inside out. So have you ever been that way? I know for sure that I have.
Matter of fact, I have all kinds of different planks that end up in my eyes at different times. I’m going to be real and transparent with you for a moment. Because I am human, one of the issues, or planks, that I deal with is unforgiveness, bitterness, and feelings of resentment.
But in case you are thinking you are perfect, let me give you some examples and see if maybe you aren’t as perfect as you think…
Held a grudge before.
Won’t accept an apology. Or worse – said you did, but didn’t?
Have you ever said –
“I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget!”
Or brought up someone’s past wrongdoings out of anger or in an argument?
If so, you are very normal. Yeah, you’re normal. You are just like two disciples, James and John. They were actually called Sons of Thunder because of their passion and edginess. Stay with me for a moment and let’s take a look at their feelings of unforgiveness, bitterness, and revenge and what Jesus thought about it.
In the following passage, we find Jesus and his team of disciples heading toward Jerusalem, and he is going to head through Samaria. And the Samaritans and Jews hated one another. The path from Galilee to Jerusalem went straight through Samaira, but most Jews prefered to add two to three days onto their trip than go through Samaria. By choosing the most direct route to Jerusalem, one that went right through Samaria, Jesus made a choice that most Jews would not have made.
Luke 9:51-56 (NLT) 51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village.
James and John, are ready for a fight. They’re ready to engage with those whose religious practice is different from theirs in a way that Jesus knows will not bear good fruit. Rather than allowing James and John to seek vengeance on those whom they perceive as rejecting his mission, Jesus rebukes them, re-focusing their attention on their movement toward Jerusalem, on work that will support his God-given mission.
In my Bible the header is “Opposition from Samaritans,” but the concept I want you to take away from this is “You can’t be doing that.” You can’t be harboring feelings of bitterness and revenge. It will eat you alive from the inside out. Matter of fact, unforgiveness is like drinking poison while expecting the other person to die. And that’s just crazy, we would never do that.
So today, make the choice to act as Jesus would.. Forgive when no one else would. Love those who society deems unlovable. Let go of those feelings of bitterness and anger.
In a world where you can be anything you want, be like Jesus!
Tamaira Ash of The Table’s Media Team