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Bitterness and Unforgiveness - 3

If you face forgiving the person that has offended you, then that leads to being faced with the possibility of choosing healthier, less painful patterns of living and relating. The powerful pull of “pain addiction” becomes a barrier to that forgiving and freeing process.


Symptoms of an Unforgiving Spirit   (Stanley, 1987)

•You can’t stand to be around certain people.

•You want to strike out at people when certain subjects are discussed.

•You lose your temper over little things.

•You struggle with guilt over things that happened in the past.

•You find yourself hating and hurting the ones you should love the most.

•You find yourself at the end of the day bitterly chewing over perceived wrongs.


Roles played by various parties involved in bitter relationships:

       * Victim          * Enabler          * Co-conspirator          * Persecutor          * Outcast


The question arises, if a root of bitterness exists, what must one do to fully recover from this malady? First of all, we must be willing to forgive the offender even if they do not repent or ask for our forgiveness. Then we must put behind us the events that have precipitated the bitterness.


Three evidences of a forgiving spirit as stated by Stanley (1987, p. 114) are:

1.We discover the truth (our sin);

2.We take responsibility (and repent); and

3.We are delivered (according to God’s Word, we are set free).


In my experience I have found that getting rid of a root of bitterness is a process and takes time. Unfortunately I have also learned that sometimes when we discover the truth we are unwilling to take responsibility for our actions. When we don’t accept that we are responsible for what we do, we are never spiritually or emotionally free, and reconciliation in the relationship cannot occur.



God defines the ministry of reconciliation in II Cor. 5:17-20 and delegates the working of it to His children. This is a passage beseeching men to be reconciled to God and ultimately to each other. In Scripture, reconciliation is to change from enmity to friendship; to reconcile, leaving no impediment to unity and peace (Vines 1985).  The change effected is through the finished work of Calvary which cost Jesus Christ His life.

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