Why you can’t keep delaying forgiveness

Last spring, we decided to remove the bushes and rocks from our front planter bed and add a better variety of plants. Once the bed was clear of roots and rocks, we laid a strong weed barrier over every inch of dirt. We laid out our plants, cut small holes in the weed barrier, and placed the plants carefully in their new homes. To further prevent the invasion of weeds, we surrounded our lavender, lantana, and annuals with heaps of fragrant brown bark.

One of our friends stood by, his eyebrow arched in skepticism. “You’re still going to have weed problems,” he remarked with a smirk.

In one sense, he was right—the weeds creep in no matter what we do. Bird droppings, neighborhood cats, and the ever-blowing Texas wind bring plenty of rogue seeds into our garden. On the other hand, our careful preparation of the flower bed, coupled with our vigilant efforts to pull unwanted sprouts, have kept our garden clear.

Human hearts, like flowerbeds, can be overrun by bitterness, sorrow, and anger unless we are vigilant. We are wronged almost daily—sometimes hourly! Those wrongs, like rogue seeds, land in the garden of our hearts and weeds of bitter resentment spring up. Only the Lord can give us the help we need to keep our heart free from bitterness.

Let God’s love protect your heart.

Everyone knows that a garden is going to have weeds. Sometimes they seem to sprout overnight. Recognizing this reality makes a good gardener more vigilant as they prepare and protect their garden.

Here’s another stark truth: People will abuse us, lie to us, betray us, slight us, or thoughtlessly wound us. It happened to our Savior while he lived on this earth and it will happen to us. Jesus knew the fickle and treacherous behavior of humanity and yet continued to demonstrate compassionate love. Even as he bled on the cross, he asked the Lord to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Read this: When the people you love fail you

God’s love should act like a weed barrier—protecting our hearts not from hurt, but from roots of bitterness. His love teaches us to “keep no record of wrongs,” to “bear all things” and to “endure all things.” Refusing to forgive is refusing to love the way God loved us.

The Lord, in love, sent His Son to bring us peace. If He can forgive us, how can we fail to forgive others?

Give your pain to the Lord.

Weeds are funny things. I’ve killed many a good plant by overwatering, under-watering, or just plain forgetting about them, but I’ve never killed a weed that way. If you ignore them, they grow; if you over-water them, they grow; if you pull the top off, they just grow back!

The only way to kill a weed is to use chemical spray or to physically remove the whole thing—root and all!

Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to let the weeds of anger, bitterness, and resentment grow in our hearts. It doesn’t take much effort to seethe over a wrong suffered. Ignoring your hurt won’t make it go away. You’ve got to pull it out.

These weeds cannot be pulled by our strength alone. We need the Lord to remove bitterness—root and all!

Every time you feel the pang of a wrong suffered, go to the Lord in prayer. Whenever it creeps into your mind, hand it to God. Tell Him exactly how you feel and acknowledge his expectation of forgiveness. Ask Him for help. Even when you think you’ve forgiven, that memory may spark resentment again. Keep giving it back to God.

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5.6-7)

Forgiveness may seem impossible, but with God, all things are possible.

Nurture peace.

We’ve all got weeds to pull, but don’t forget to nurture the good stuff. Plants worth having need water, fertilizer, protection, and pruning. The fruit of the spirit includes love, patience, gentleness, and self-control. Those particular traits will never mature in our hearts if they are choked by resentment.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 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.” (Hebrews 12.14-15)

Strive for peace. Nurture reconciliation. Ask the Master Gardener for help.

A day may come when we find ourselves weakened with age. I have spent a fair share of time with elderly people and I am convinced that how we care for our hearts during our youth becomes quite clear in old age. If we hide bitterness beneath a mask of joviality, the pain and weariness of age will remove the mask. If we have nurtured joy and love, age won’t dim the light.

Choose today to nurture the fruit of the spirit—tomorrow may be too late.

Forgive today by removing the weeds of anger, bitterness, and resentment—tomorrow may be too late.

Now read this: If you are overwhelmed with shame 

Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com


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