Having moved house, just over seven years ago, I was convinced that I didn’t own too much excess baggage and that my house was fairly free of clutter. Well, it looks that way, but, when, before Christmas, circumstances caused me to look in hidden places, I discovered that I have a considerable amount of stuff that’s neither useful nor wanted, but needs to be discarded. My resolve for this New Year is to ruthlessly go through it and get rid of everything that’s not beneficial. It’s quite a challenge, but the benefits are two-fold. It will make any future house move I may make easier, and will help my family enormously when I’m taken to heaven.
There are several references in the New Testament about getting rid of things. They are all negative things, sinful things that hinder us from moving on with God. They stand in the way of real intimacy with our Heavenly Father. They block our understanding of what it means to live with Jesus as Lord. They grieve the Holy Spirit. The things we’re told to get rid of need radical treatment, because they’re set out as commands. Some of them are heart attitudes which we may not recognize, but which deeply grieve the Lord. Some are patterns of behavior, which have become so much part of us that they seem normal, but, when seen in the light of the cross, they’re seriously sinful.
Our scripture for today names six things we’re commanded to get rid of. As bitterness is the first in the list, we might we assume its seriousness, because it blocks love, and love is the very nature of God. It blocks us receiving love and also giving love. Bitterness affects our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It fixes on self instead of on Jesus, and is characterised by un-forgiveness, and negative, critical attitudes. Anger can be recognised, but bitterness is less recognisable, because it’s under the surface. Its roots are buried in unhealed hurts, resentment and unrighteousness anger. It’s a trap of the devil.
Our text for today tells us the way out of the trap, ‘Forgive, just as God in Christ forgave you’. I wonder if there’s a person in your life whom you’ve been repeatedly forgiving for the same hurt they caused you back in the past, and yet you never feel that you’re free. Jesus died to bring freedom to all of God’s children, so why not ask the Holy Spirit to show you if bitterness has taken root in your heart. He’ll provide supernatural resources for you to truly forgive. There are rich blessings from this. Firstly, your heart will be cleansed from bitterness and you’ll experience the true joy and freedom of forgiveness. Secondly, you won’t be ashamed when you stand before the Lord Jesus to give an account of how you’ve lived your life.
Prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your abounding grace and love. Thank You for Jesus who paid the price for my forgiveness. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who convicts of heart attitudes and reactions grievous to You. I pray for forgiving grace to get rid of anything in my life that hinders me from moving forward into Your purposes for my life and service in Your Kingdom. Amen.
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