Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Spiritual Acid Reflux"

What a hassle!! I have acid reflux. My doctors diagnosed me with it about two years ago, but probably I had what was later known as acid reflux even in my youth. It is not acting up all the time, but when it does, I feel horrible. Anyone reading this who has it or has had a case of minor heartburn can relate to the pain that acid reflux brings. The burning that comes up through your chest and into your throat, is just at times unbearable. My case is coupled with what feels like "heart attack like" symptoms; pain in the left arm, pain in my jaw. And when it is really bad it is unimaginable pain across my chest. By know, most of you are probably thinking that I need to go to the emergency room. But, I assure you, that is not necessary.

However, there is a spiritual acid reflux. One that can bring just as much pain, but only worse. I call it bitterness or unforgiveness. When Peter asked Jesus how often He should forgive, "seven times", I guess Peter was thinking that was the number of perfection so that should be the limit of his forgiveness. Well, you all know the response of Christ, "seventy times seven". That was, of course, Christ's way of sayng that there is no limit to how much you forgive.

Matthew 5:44 are some pointed words. "Love" is the Greek word "agape" and is the same word used for how we should love our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ. The true love that Christ calls for is a love that does not include resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

The thing about bitterness is that it grows. It never just stays the same. It always gets worse and it is a sin. To harbor unforgiveness for anyone (whether they have asked for it or not), is sinful and you completely lack the power to discern the will of God.

Some say, "Well, you dont know what they did to me" or "you dont understand". Any many times, I dont understand. Praise God I dont understand and by God's grace I will not have to understand by experience. But I do not need to experience it to know that bitterness and unforgiveness are sins against God. Why do we not forgive? Because we feel justified to think and act the way we do. Listen, no one has ever done anything worse to any of us, then we have not already done to Christ, and He forgave us all. So we need to ask the Lord to give us the grace to forgive.

Unforgiveness and bitterenss take on many forms. Most of the time when we are harboring bitterness in our hearts towards someone else, or many person's, we usually blame someone who had nothing to do with it. We have all experienced this. I have been the victim of that. But it was not me, it was the bitterness that person had toward someone else. Then I pray that they get whatever is going on with them right with God.

That is the way that it goes. People leave places, not because of the will of God, but because they harbor some ill-feelings against someone. But what happens is that the ill-feelings are not without effect. They just find a new outlet to blame at the new place and that drags down the innocent. Unforgivessness is a sad thing. Are you harboring bitterenss in your heart toward someone? Then you need to go to that person, by the grace of God, and forgive them. You say, "I cannot do that." You are right, you cannot, but the grace of our God can do it for you. Because in forgivess that is the only way that you will truly be right with God again. Jesus said, "Forgive, as you have been forgiven."

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