The need to forgive is a fact of life. If you’ve never had to overlook a wrong, just wait. Eventually, we all have to face the furnace of forgiveness. We have to learn how to let go. Doing so, however, can be hard. I once talked about this topic with an older Christian whom I really admired. He was a godly man, but he confessed, “Pastor, I’m afraid I’m too good at keeping a grudge.” I was able to relate. Finding freedom from resentment can be a frustrating endeavor. Fortunately, God provides some helps. Consider three spiritual resources we have in our battle against resentment.
Praise is a pathway to peace of mind. It is also a powerful tool for pulling down strongholds of animosity. I have personally found it to be helpful myself. Recently I wrestled with the rancor of resentment for nearly an entire evening. Finally, I decided to refocus by spending time in praise. I countered bitterness with blessing. It worked! In an instant, it seemed that my pain vanished. I had a flood of relief and a flash of joy. God’s Word says, “Praise the Lord, all nations! Glorify Him, all peoples!” (Psalm 117:1). When we praise, it does something powerful to our perspective. It reorients us with God’s truth, and reassures us of His character. I believe it is for this reason that Paul encouraged an anxiety-ridden church at Philippi in this regard. He said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Preaching is often viewed as an activity reserved for vocational preachers. In reality, it is something we can all do on a regular basis. The word “preach” simply speaks of proclaiming truth. Every believer has a mandate to proclaim the gospel (Mark 16:15). On top of this, there is great benefit in preaching to ourselves. By this, I mean that we need to regularly remind ourselves of God’s truth. The Bible speaks of how we can “be transformed by the renewing of” our minds (Romans 12:2). If you’re struggling with letting an offender slide, preach to yourself! Remind your mind of God’s Word! Tell yourself the truth concerning God’s love, your salvation, your worth in Jesus, and God’s sovereignty. A well-timed mini-sermon will help chase off feelings of contempt.
Prayer is another powerful weapon in our arsenal. Extending grace can be hard. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray about it. He knew that some things never change apart from prayer (Matthew 17:21). In giving what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” He instructed us to make the following request on a regular basis: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Not only did our Lord educate us concerning this prayer principle, but He also embodied it. When He was dying on the cross, He looked upon His assailants and prayed, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Sometimes, forgiveness can’t be found apart from ardent prayer. Have you been offended? Are you having a hard time getting over a matter? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Pour out your heart to Him. He hears you! Ask for wisdom, strength, humility, and help. He will hear and answer you! Quite often, relief from resentment is only a prayer away.
Dr. Patrick Latham