In such times when the news is filled with controversy over our flag, kneeling for the national anthem, gun control, immigration, and religious freedom, it is very easy to become bitter with those who have opposing views. When we leave our house in the morning we’re probably already frustrated before we even get to work, then, listening to people argue about who’s “right” just makes a miserable atmosphere. What do we do? How do we control our emotions when the natural reaction seems to be “fight back” by pushing our opinion on others?
Let’s look at Ephesians 4:31-32:
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Oh boy! …I know, that doesn’t sound so easy. However, when we begin to focus on who we are because of Christ, and remember who we were before, which was a person not worthy to be forgiven, then we realize we cannot withhold forgiveness and kindness from someone else!
It is so easy to become irritated with folks, but we must remember… we are not called to point out faults in people, but to show them Christ with our every day living! We are to show the kind of love, kindness, and forgiveness that Christ has given to us. That is how we impact people, not by becoming bitter and alienating them from our lives.
We should feel a burden for those who do not know Christ as their Savior, and should commit to pray for them. Secretly, we hope “bad” people “get what they deserve” but remember… what if we got what we deserve? We would be separated from our heavenly Father with no hope of eternal life. We are to show mercy because mercy has been shown to us. It doesn’t matter how “wrong” we think someone else is in their views. Grace is unmerited favor, and it has been given to me! I am no better than a heathen if I wait to show favor to those I think earned it!
Don’t let those seeds of bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking, and malice, take root in your life. Remember God is in control and it’s not our responsibility to “change” people… It’s our responsibility to show them the love of Christ with our everyday actions! That’s how we make a difference, we get out of the way so the Holy Spirit can work.
I pray, “Lord, help me to die to self so that I may be used by You to help others. Forgive me of the wrong feelings I have toward others and let me replace them with acts of love, kindness and forgiveness. Teach me to pray for others, and be reminded the You loved and forgave me before I ever knew You! You are my strength, my shelter, my Deliverer and strong tower. Help me to be what I should be for others, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.