Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O That Will Be Glory"1 (Lyrics)
Romans 12:9-10 – Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV)
Have you someone in your life who is angry and resentful, who really knows how to bug you, who knows your weaknesses and how to exploit them, who pushes your buttons? I have certainly worked with such people in my career; one individual can poison an office environment, divide families and even communities, and create unrest in a church community, too.
The apostle Paul counsels that Christians should be genuine, not masquerading love or being stand-offish. It's all about relating to our brothers and sisters in the Christian community to which we belong. One of the deceiver's strategies is to destroy relationships and poison hearts, and nothing does it like bitterness! Resentment and suspicion are the opposites of growing in love and trust.
I've had acquaintances who stopped talking to me, who deceived me, who took advantage of me, and who seemed to enjoy criticizing everything about me. What I have learned, and what is so challenging to practise, is how I should respond. With God's love and power, we can control how we respond, which speaks volumes about our Christian character.
Have you ever grown a mint plant? Wise gardeners grow it in pots, because, unrestrained, its roots invade the whole garden.
Hebrews 12:15 – See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. (ESV)
As mint roots grow unseen under the soil, resentment invades the soul and drags down others; they act differently, aren't as helpful anymore, and don't talk as much.
How do we kill off bitterness? How do we let go of hurt? As Paul instructs in today's verse, "Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good."
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)
If God has forgiven us of every sin, we can extend that gift of grace to others. Compassion is powerful in healing ourselves, and shows Jesus' presence in our lives. Let's pray for those who persecute us, those who push our buttons, that they may partake in Jesus' power, and wounds may be healed. It may not change them, but be sure — it will change us!
Prayer: Dearest Lord, give us the grace today to remember our salvation and extend the gift of forgiveness to others. Heal us of the hurts that we hold onto, so that we can truly love each other with brotherly affection. Amen!