Ryan is the Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory, NC. He is the host of the "In The Room" podcast, and the author of 8 Hours, Or Less: Writing Faithful Sermons Faster.  

No More Harboring Hurt

No More Harboring Hurt

Horrible things happen when you hold on to something longer than you should. Think about when you had roommates. Maybe roommates are a reality for you right now. If so, this will be especially timely for you. 

When you have roommates, few things pose a greater risk to your well-being than “mystery milk” in the fridge. Mystery milk is that carton that sits in the way-back of the refrigerator, typically behind the OJ, purple stuff, soda, and Sunny D.  No one ever seems certain where the mystery milk came from or how long it’s been sitting there. 

Now, when you’re young and poor, you don’t so much go by the expiration date as you do by the smell and consistency of your milk. This system, while effective, is admittedly risky, right? As a result, any consumption of milk when you live with roommates requires the universally agreed-upon test. This test has two steps: 

1) Lift the potentially lethal carton to your nose. 

2) Inhale deeply.

This test evokes roughly the same level of stress as detonating an explosive. If you have ever smelled spoiled milk, you know why. In fact, there is a solid possibility that even the mention of spoiled milk currently has you choking back whatever you last ate. The smell lives somewhere between formaldehyde and death. In short, it’s awful.

Hurt is like milk. If you hold onto it for too long it spoils and becomes bitterness. Bitterness is the byproduct of harboring hurt. Bitterness poisons your body, mind, and soul. Do the research. Bitterness causes almost every system in your body to blow up. So here’s the big idea:

If you don’t stop harboring that hurt in your heart, your bitterness will destroy you.  

You have to forgive. 

You might pushback thinking, “You don’t know what they did to me. The hurt's too big, the wound too fresh.” The truth is, I don’t know exactly what’s been done to you but I do know this:

There is no limit to our forgiveness as followers of Christ. 

Our sin is an insurmountable debt we could spend every second of our lives trying to pay back and never come close. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus, like the gracious king in Matthew 18:21-35, forgives our debt. Jesus lived, died, and rose again, paying for your sin and providing the means of your forgiveness and mine. Through faith in Jesus, the debt of your sin is forgiven. 

The forgiveness Christ provides has relational implications. Bitterness is a direct result of failing to grasp the gospel.  Bottom line: Forgiven people forgive people. When we refuse to forgive, we’re the wicked servant. Any inability or unwillingness to forgive others is a sign that the gospel has not truly gripped our hearts. 

I know the hurt is big, but you’re not helping yourself by holding onto it. You’re not punishing them, nor protecting yourself. The bitterness within you will kill you if you don’t kill it first. Will you take a long look at your own sin? Will you gaze hard at the cross? Will you lean on the Spirit for help? And will you kill your bitterness with the forgiveness you’ve been given?

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