This relates to what is considered the number one sin of Christians.

           Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12)  

If we do not, we are disobedient to Him.

We are never more like Him than when we forgive.

With a computer it is necessary to perform a disk clean-up to make it work better. Forgiveness is a human disk clean-up.

There is a little couplet that says: “Bitterness does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to the one on which it is poured.”  Bitterness is self-punishment.

Scripture posts this warning sign: “Watch out that no bitterness take root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” (Hebrews 12:15)

Ephesians 4:30 appeals: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…”  It then notes “bitterness” as grieving the Holy Spirit. We grieve the Spirit when He is guiding us not to do something and we do it. Thus, the Holy Spirit is depicted as appealing with us not to be bitter. The word “grieve” means to weep. Your bitterness makes God cry.

An old adage states: “The hornet of remembering may fly again, but the sting of bitterness has been removed.”

When the poet Edwin Markham reached the age of retirement, he was stunned to learn that his banking friend had betrayed him and lost all of his life’s savings. At retirement he was penniless. The torch of bitterness burned where the candle of joy had formerly gleamed. His inspiration ceased and his pen became unproductive. One day this highly productive poet was sitting doodling, drawing circles when the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit impacted him. He said the Holy Spirit did not speak to him in an audible voice, but clearly convinced him, “Markham, if you do not deal with this thing, it is going to ruin you. You cannot afford the price you are paying. You must forgive that man.” He prayed, “Lord, I will, and I do freely forgive.”

With the root of bitterness uprooted, his creativity returned and the man who wrote the memorable poems “Lincoln” and “The Man With the Hoe” produced what he considered his best poem entitled “Outwitted.”

“He drew a circle that shut me out–
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout;
But love and I had the will to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!”

That is one of my favorite poems. Do as I did long ago, memorize it.

Here we are back with the model of Christ as our example of forgiveness. Out of gratitude for His forgiveness we must forgive. If we don’t forgive we are indicating we are ungrateful for His forgiveness. 

After the chapter break comes this instruction: “Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us…” (Ephesians 4:13) If needed, may you enjoy expressing forgiveness.