Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Broken Sidewalk

In our walks around town, Glen and I frequently encounter areas where the roots of the large oak trees have caused the sidewalks to raise and subsequently, break into pieces.

Sometimes the breaks are small and fairly easy to navigate.  Sometimes the pieces are so unlevel it is difficult to walk across them safely.  It is often easy to see the large roots which have tunneled under the sidewalk.

The destructive roots were not always large, however.  In fact, when the roots began to make their way under the sidewalk they were tiny tendrils.  They could easily slip into the smallest hole under the sidewalk.  If not removed, these roots were allowed to grow and grow until their size allowed them to pick up and move the heavy pieces of concrete above them.  This destruction wreck havoc with those who attempt to traverse the path.

When I see these limbs, I think of the destructive effect of bitterness in our lives.  It is easy to let a tiny thought of bitterness creep into the empty places of our minds.  Sometimes we may even feel justified, in some fleshly sense, at feeling bitter.  Perhaps we consider ourselves ill-used, taken for granted or not appreciated enough.

Allowing that little wisp of bitterness to remain only allows it to grow, and it will grow quickly.  Unchecked it will develop into full-blown resentment.  This bitterness and resentment can begin to destroy and destruct even the most concrete areas of our lives.  Perhaps it will displace the relationships between parent and child, or husband and wife.  It can disrupt the communication between employer and employee.  There is no human relationship immune to the destructive work of bitterness.

It is no wonder the Apostle Paul gave this admonition to the Ephesians:

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you, " (Ephesians 4: 30,31.)

Notice Paul says "let all bitterness. . .be put away from you."  He knew that even the tiniest amount of bitterness allowed to linger would cause damage.  He also gives the key to avoiding bitterness when he admonishes us to "be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another." 

Sometimes the forgiving part may seem to be the hardest.  Often we don't really want to forgive.  Some even pride themselves on their not forgiving.  But the last part of that verse is the answer.  "Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

We weren't forgiven by God on any merit or goodness of our own, but totally for Christ's sake.  This one thought should resound in our hearts anytime we feel ourselves ill-used or taken for granted.  We forgive not based on merit, but based on God's forgiveness of us.  He forgives us for Christ's sake, and we forgive others because we have been forgiven for us much.

"Forbearing one another, and forgibing one another,
 if any man have a quarrel against any: 
even as Christ fogave you, so also do ye." 
 Colossians 3:13.

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