Your Words Could Heal
One of the saddest things a Pastor gets to witness on a regular basis is the way in which Christians who have sinned against one another would rather live a life modeled by bitterness than a life modeled by forgiveness. This happens in all kinds of relationships and no one is exempt. Parents hold grudges against their children. Children blame parents for all of their problems and struggles. Spouses dig into the trenches of sorrow and battle relentlessly against one another. Longtime friends willingly lay down their rich history in an effort to live their lives as miserably as possible because they have wronged one another. But Christians are supposed to be different - they are the ones who have been called out by the Cross of Jesus and into a new community that practices a revolutionary love that they learned from the example of Jesus. 

Yesterday, I preached a sermon from I John 3:10-24 and in that passage John says, "We know that have passed out of death and into life, because we love the brothers." Think about what John is saying here. He is saying that the proof that something miraculous has happened to us is found in the miraculous way in which we act towards others by loving them. In fact, it took the miraculous work of God to change our hearts so that our heart could be changed toward others. John says that our Salvation is proved by our love for one another. 

Why then, do so many professing Christians refuse to love one another? For John the answer is simple - if they continue in their bitterness, the Spirit of God is not in them and they are in fact hateful murderers (I John 3:15). Wait a moment! Just because we hate someone we are a murderer? Oh, it gets better. Not only are we murderers but we are also children of Satan and will suffer the eternal punishment of hell. Jesus adds to the description of the hater by saying that those who insult, hate, or curse others are also classified as murderers deserving of hell. 

If you are a Christian and you continue to hold bitterness toward other Christians, this test is for you. I would exhort you to ask yourself two questions:

First, why is this bitterness bigger than Jesus? How great the conflict must be that we have more of a right than Jesus to hold someone else's sin against them! Jesus had every right to hold our sin against us and yet his love for us drove him to the Cross so that we might be forgiven of our sins. John says, that we are to have the same kind of love that Jesus had - a revolutionary love. Our love for Jesus and his love for us drives us to love other people. Our reasons for bitterness pale in comparison to the sin that Jesus could hold against us. When we are bitter towards those who have sinned against us and we hold them in contempt we are no different than the unmerciful servant that was forgiven of a life debt only to hold a much smaller debt against another person. Our debt was big, and through faith in Christ, it has been forgiven. What bitterness do you have against others that is bigger than Jesus? 

Second, your words could bring literal healing to someone this very day. Do you know how stressful it is to know that you have sinned against someone and that person will not forgive you? It is the reason why so many of us are not truthful when we have sinned. I know of Christians who are losing days off of their lives because of how stressed they are about inter-Christian conflict. Hearts have been broken. Relationships have been destroyed. Families are ripped apart - all because professing Christians will not model the love of their Savior. For some reason, many Christians believe the notion that holding on to their bitterness is somehow sweeter than the harmony of forgiveness. What a great deception! What a horrid lie, to be robbed of the joy of Christ and trade it in for this depth of depravity!

Christian, if you have been sinned against, you have the power to heal with your words and actions - and your possess that power today because the Spirit of Christ indwells you. You have the power to do what Christ has done - to bring healing to someone by forgiving them. Your grudge and bitterness and desire for vengeance will reap destruction. The forgiveness that you withhold could bring healing to a broken heart this very day. 

Yes, forgiveness is expensive. In the same way, your sins were forgiven at the expense of the blood of Jesus. Who is God calling you to forgive and love? Be revolutionary. Don't just forgive someone with your words, but invite them into your life so that they might experience what true healing looks like. 
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