REPOST Today’s AMIQT Devotional, written by Pastor Sam Lee who leads Catalyst Agape Church in Northern New Jersey, was first posted on July 25, 2014. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin (BA) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Learn to Say ‘No’ to Bitterness”
1 Peter 3:9
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
It is neither godly (in the spiritual realm) nor beneficial (emotionally) to focus on the person who has offended or hurt us. Before long, we are thinking of different ways to “repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” It is bad enough that someone has hurt us; it would be worse if we allow the bitterness to enroot in our hearts, because that becomes poison that brings dysfunction (in relationships with others), opens us to spiritual attacks from the Enemy (loss of joy, peace, a clear conscience, etc.), and keeps us from moving forward in life.
The more we hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness, the spiritual and emotional strongholds against us become stronger. And God’s blessings and His promises seem meaningless since a prolonged bitterness always causes spiritual and emotional deadness.
Finally, the bitterness, once it is full-grown, demands that actions be taken to repay evil with evil against the offender: We plan, plot, and implement until we have gotten our revenge. In the meantime, the bitterness towards one person affects our relationship with others, including those who are trying to help and love us.
Consider the case of the brothers of Joseph who hated their younger brother for his boasting (Gn. 37:5-11). Embittered by this, they successfully implemented their plan to get rid of Joseph, which left their father Jacob, who loved all his children, miserable for the rest of his life (Gn. 37:34-5).
Do not repay evil with evil; it is not worth it. In fact, Joseph shows the importance of releasing bitterness and the desire to take revenge when he forgave his brothers, particularly in light of God’s bigger picture. To his brothers, who continued to worry, wondering, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” (Gn. 50:13), Joseph said, “Don’t be afraid . . . You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gn. 50:20).
Bitterness hurts us, and in turn, we hurt others. Therefore, let us free ourselves from bitterness by internalizing God’s promise (Rom. 14:17) in the Holy Spirit. Only then can we clearly hear the voice of God that may tell us why a hurtful situation was allowed in the first place. Then God can truly use us to do his work, including setting free those who are mired in bitterness.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that the command to forgive is to help me. You want me to forgive so that I will be free. Help me to give up all my bitterness and anger. Replace my bitterness with Your grace, freedom, and love. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicle 33
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Questions to Consider
- Why does the Lord emphasize the number seven? Do some research on the number seven in the Bible?
- What did Jesus mean when He said to forgive seventy times?
- The number six is considered man’s number, while seven is considered the perfect number; it certainly is the number favored by God. Throughout the Bible, the number seven is used in reference to a variety of activities of God: creation, Sabbath, prophecy (Daniel 9:24), etc.
- In short, don’t count; always forgive!
Meditate on Matthew 18:23-35: “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[a] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[b] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”