Long before man invented the video, Satan himself perfected the art of rewind and replay. It seems reserved to replay acts done against us – betrayals and personal offenses – moral crimes that have somehow robbed us. Each time offenses are ‘replayed’ in our mind the details become sharper and more significant. Motives and intents emerge. The scenario worsens as offenders seem to go on with their lives, unscathed and unaffected, even prospering! Somehow, when our head hits the pillow, these acts of personal harm and indignation against us gain momentum and greater depth as accusations seem to find a megaphone.
A strong sense of self empowers resentment. In fact, it is the necessary fuel to feed the fire, “He did this to me??” It has been said, “Resentment is unfulfilled revenge”.
It is our perceived and asserted right to be offended which opens the flow of resentment and bitterness and, like a toxic river, will contaminate nearly every aspect of life. Without question, the human heart longs for relief, a salve or resolution for this harassment. Imaginary plots of revenge, even strong hopefulness of gross misfortune upon the offender, can create a semblance of relief. However, enacted ‘plots of revenge’ inevitably villainize us and wishing ‘gross misfortune’ never satisfies. Every heart challenge leads us to a fork, a place of choices, each with great consequence. Most will flow with the ways of the world, the sensibilities of self and remedies of self help galore.
There is a path rarely chosen, hardly even seen – at times only found in the dark. Narrow and difficult, unnatural to us, the one first trod upon by the Prince of Peace. This way alone holds deep healing and relief. No amount of resolve or energy can take us on this path – we embark through surrender – each step forward led and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Our world culture ‘self asserts’, ‘self defends and demands’ but the way of the cross declares….
“You have no rights”
By no means is this a rip off. It is an immeasurable trade up. We give up our rights, living for ourselves in this world, to follow Christ – and receive the indwelling of His life and His power. Our ordinary lives- mere earthen vessels – gain the potential of supernatural possibilities as the purposes of God live through us. “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that his all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (II Corin 4:7)
Every path, even in our thinking, has a final destination. Our sin nature – groomed and embellished by the world’s culture – will always lead us away from Christ, and like a thief, ‘will rob, kill and destroy’. The way of the cross, a supernatural path of self denial – is where we partake in Christ’s life, sharing in His riches and eternal Kingdom.
Resentment, and its inevitable seeds of bitterness and strife, threatens the fruits of Christ’s life within us. Bitterness and resentment are natural – our hearts are fertile and ready for planting – little work is needed to grow resentment! But the Word of God holds forth abundant life, life worth living, life that matters…life gained only through surrender. Repeated through the Gospels, Jesus beckons His followers, “Anyone who intends to come to me has to let me lead….Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self help is no help at all. Self sacrifice is the way, my way to saving yourself…” (Mark 8:35, The Message)
Jesus gave up His rights, His right as King and Judge, for ‘the joy set before Him’ – reconciling man to God. He washed the feet of His betrayer and all those who would forsake Him. Afterward, “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat – this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me…” (I Corin 11:23/24) Betrayed, yet He gave thanks.
Have you, have I, been betrayed? Rejected, wronged, used by others? Satan will rehearse and enlarge every offense in your mind and heart, sowing seeds of bitterness that grow deep and broad. Each seed will validate your right to resent, to hate, and avenge – every seed a weighty entanglement. But at every juncture stands the Savior, offering His indwelling power to forgive and be free. Forgiveness does not preclude justice or accountability. Forgiveness releases the debt, the offense, the indignation into the hand of a sovereign and Righteous Judge. It is He whom we must fear. And it is from Him we receive the power to forgive and the inner healing to restore peace.
Every path has a final destination…
The one led by Jesus Christ leads to eternal victory. While too narrow to carry baggage of bitterness, it is a path of freedom and release. “I surrender!” is the powerful prayer that starts the journey.