“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger …be put away from you …” ~Ephesians 4:31
If you are one who has suffered deep and devastating offense and hurt from people who were supposed to guard and protect your heart, you and I have something in common. If you continually find yourself in a place where you cannot seem to shake off the hurt of those offenses ~ even after years and years of trying your best to escape it ~ you and I have even more in common. And, if you battle against what seems like an ever-present and deep-seated hatred of what happened to you ~ and a well-developed and disguised ill will for those who did the hurting ~ well, you and I find ourselves in a very real and unfortunate union: we struggle with resentment.
By definition, resentment is the “re-feeling” of an offense that a victim has endured at someone else’s hand. Beyond this, resentment is an unresolved and unforgiven offense that festers in the mind and heart of its victim. You may think of resentment as an infected wound that hurts, hinders, and halts healing in the victim because it constantly re-opens the wound of an offense. You may also think of resentment as the soil in which the seeds of bitterness take root in us (and then, in a nasty and diabolical cycle, those tears of bitterness water the seeds.). I suppose you may also think of resentment as an incubator for anger, and even as a cradle for hate.
While it may seem justified in the mind of the victim, in reality resentment never promotes health, but always manages to pilfer the very strength the victim needs to heal from an offense. Many times, resentment stems from an offense suffered at the hand of a family member. If it were part of a family, a victim would do well to remember that resentment would be the brother of bitterness, a not-so-distant relative of decay, and the patriarch of death ~ a dysfunctional family, to be sure.
Resentment always kills something within us. In this way, resentment is an insidious and insatiable virus, always seeking something to devour and never being satisfied in its devouring. Like any virus, resentment will not (and indeed, cannot) stop until there is nothing more to infect and devour. That is its nature.
In the end, resentment is like all human behavior that misses God’s mark (a.k.a. sin): it is selfish and proud and rotten. Why? Because the resentful person seeks to sit upon God’s seat in judgment on another’s behavior. Furthermore, the resentful person demands of his offender what no offender can remit to him: the removal of the offense. The awful truth of the resentful person is this ~ he regards himself as God, and then requires what even God does not of an offender. How ironic that is.
As distasteful and difficult and even unfair as it may seem to the victim, the only antidote to resentment is forgiveness. Forgiveness is the only path to healing from an offense. It is the only gate that leads to a happy existence, and it is the only key that unlocks Heaven’s gate. Jesus was clear about that, and there are no two ways about it: Only the forgiving soul will find forgiveness from a God we have all deeply offended (Matthew 6:14-15).