We started a new study in my small group last night - it looks like its going to be very interesting - but the topic last night was on bitterness. I thought - bitterness? Not quite sure how to define that. Yeah, I've heard of people being bitter about things but never really thought too much about it. The lesson then made the point about how bitterness takes such a root in "hurt ground" - that if you're hurt, you can let bitterness grow & spread & you can feed that root. Then bitterness leads to unforgiveness. But what if you cant forgive? Then bitterness continues to grow.
Its funny because I know people who just can't forgive for things done to them or even things done to others. And maybe even the worst, people who can't forgive themselves for things. There are people who can have someone hurt them to the core & they can forgive them, but if they do something wrong, they hang onto that & let it eat them up like nothing else ever could.
I was just thinking about that all last night & even this morning & I immediately turned to Peter in the Bible. I so appreciate Peter's story & can only imagine how he felt - traveling with Jesus - seeing the miracles that he performed - being his close friend!!! And then for Peter to deny Christ & for the realization to hit him - it just breaks my heart because I can see how he took that unforgiveness upon himself.
Luke 22:61-62 "The Lord turned & looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord has spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times". And he went outside & wept bitterly"
Can you imagine how the unforgiveness of self was right there with Peter? Especially to have Jesus look straight at you? The pain must have been too much for Peter to go right outside & to weep bitterly.
Have you ever done that? Wept bitterly for something that you've done to Christ? I know I have. And the words that says the Lord looked straight at Peter - haven't you felt that too? When you've done something wrong - you can feel the eyes of Christ looking straight at you? That is enough to break the heart - isn't it?
But the awesome thing is where Jesus asks Peter after he's been resurrected "Do you TRULY love me?" - (John 21) he asked him three times - the same number of times that Peter denied Christ. It was like Jesus was letting Peter know that he understood & with Jesus reinstating Peter, He wanted Peter to let go of the guilt he may have felt - Jesus was not concerned about the past, but the future, telling him to go & "Feed my sheep".
Is there someone you need to forgive? Something that happened in the past? Don't let bitterness take root in your heart. And look deep because sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself.
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