By Pastor E.A. Adeboye
Memorise: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Hebrews 12:15
Read: Matthew 6:12-15
It is difficult to avoid friction in any society. An African proverb says: The one who says, don’t touch me, will not go to the market, and the one who says, Don’t spill water on me, will not go to fetch water from the local river. As long as you interact with people, misunderstanding is bound to come. No reasonable person will be angry without a cause. It is friction that generates hurt, pain, bitterness and un-forgiveness. When the one you trust disappoints you, it hurts. When people speak evil or lie against you, you will feel pain. As long as you live in a community, somebody must step on your toes. The truth is, offences must come but the problem here is how do you handle them when they occur? For instance, if you are upset by somebody and you allow bitter thoughts, anger, or un-forgiveness, it will affect your heart. If you don’t handle such negative feelings properly, they will affect your relationship with God to an extent that God will no more answer your prayers.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Psalms 66:18
But you may ask: Why will God not answer my prayers when I was the one offended? It’s because God is keenly interested in your relationship with your fellow man hence He says in Hebrew 12:14:
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
Jesus further says that if you refuse to forgive your fellow man, your Father in Heaven will also retain your sins against you from that moment. As seen in the memory verse, if you allow bitterness inside you, it will not only trouble you, it will also defile you. In addition, in Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus says if there is a problem in your relationship with your brother, whatever you offer to God will be rejected except you first reconcile with the fellow. You forgive your offenders not because you like to but because you have to; not for their sake but for your sake; not necessarily for their good but for your own good; not because you desire it but because God commands it and obeying God in that aspect will be counted to you as an act of righteousness.
Take some time and list all the people who have offended you. Go to meet them one by one and say to them: Brother, what you did to me really hurt me. I didn’t want to forgive you, but because I love myself so much, I have no choice but to forgive and release you.
Bible in one year: Romans 5-8