I bent over my garden, pulling a hundred tiny weeds that seemed to have erupted over night. After about 20 minutes of weeding, I looked over the patch of dirt in amazement at how many weeds still remained. “How is this possible?!” I thought.
It’s easy to see a little weed in the garden and to think, “Ah, it’s no big deal! The plants will still be able to grow around that.” But soon, if left unattended, weeds have a way of overtaking a garden.
Trust me. I know. Last summer, at 8 months pregnant with our fourth child, I cried “uncle!” to the weeds in my garden and let them win. The constant bending over had become too much for my back and the result of discontinuing my labor was a jungle in my back yard.
“This year“, I told myself, “I will be diligent about these weeds! They will not overtake our precious snap peas and lettuce!” It’s taken regular effort, but as a result, our little plants have some room to grow.
All this time in the garden has provided me with the opportunity to contemplate the soil of my own heart. It’s easy to let a seed of negativity or anger drop into my mind.
That’s life. Stuff happens. Relationships and circumstances can often be messy.
It’s up to me – it’s up to each of us whether we let that seed stay put and germinate.
Get Bitter or Get Better
We have two options when we have become frustrated/angry/upset with another person.
We can either:
1. Deal with our frustration immediately through repentance, forgiveness, and restoration (when possible) or
2. Feed our frustration and hold a grudge until it becomes resentment and a root of bitterness towards that person develops.
Scripture makes it pretty clear which one we should choose, even when we are tempted to lick our wounds and assure ourselves that “it’s only normal that I feel this way.”
When we are tempted to give in to self pity or start blaming others, let’s remind ourselves that God has offered us a higher road, a clear calling to peace, rest, courage, and love – if we will choose to walk His way.
What happens when we hold onto anger? Just like the weeds in a garden, when a seed of anger is not identified and yanked out at the root, it can grow into a garden of poisonous resentment that Scripture says “defiles many.”
Guess what? When you hold on to anger and resentment, who suffers the most? Yep, you guessed it. Yourself.
Offense imprisons. Forgiveness sets free. Choose forgiveness.
It’s impossible to life a life overflowing with joy and love when you are holding on to bitterness and anger: “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (James 3:10-12).
One of the best things that I remember from our premarital counseling was this Scripture: “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT). I’ve learned from personal experience that going to bed angry means waking up with those angry thoughts still brewing in my mind.
Settling relational accounts promptly ensures peaceful sleep and a day that begins with a fresh, clean start!
Finally, let’s consider Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”
When we consider how Christ has forgiven us from our sins, how can we withhold forgiveness from another?
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy!” (Matthew 5:7).