There are sins that are blatant and then there are sins that are more subtle, more sly. Let me explain. Some of the more obvious, blatant sins are those that come from the selfishness of my heart. Sins like greed, pride, and lust. I can’t point a finger of blame at anyone other than me when it comes to sins like these. Then there are those sins that are more subtle, more sly, that I oftentimes try to justify. Paul highlights some of these in Ephesians 4:31. Why do I become bitter? What causes me to fly into a fit of rage and anger? Why would I slander someone else’s character? The answer to all of these questions is, “They made me do it! If they would not have done what they did then I would never have done what I did.”
I need to be reminded as often as possible that God leaves no room for me to retaliate when others hurt me. In Deuteronomy 32:35, God reminded His people, 35 “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” (Deuteronomy 32:35 NIV) Paul is right, I need to get rid of these poisonous responses to people’s attempts to harm me and trust God. If I leave even a little room for bitterness it will eventually consume me. If I control my anger in most situations then I can be assured that sooner or later my anger will get out of control. If I allow myself to slander only my most bitter enemies then you can bet that slander will soon creep out of its pen and harm others as well. I need to get rid of all of these and trust God.
What is the remedy to ungodly emotions that well up in me? Is there a plan I can follow which will prevent me from feeling bitterness? Is there a prescription I can take to stop my anger? There probably is, but God’s prescription is much better–forgive. In the same way that God has forgiven me, I am to forgive others. I don’t need a pill or a plan, but I desperately need a clear understanding of the glorious forgiveness of God that has been showered upon me time after time.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will enable me to get rid of these ungodly behaviors that I have tried to justify in the past so that I might be a witness of Your grace and mercy.