Choose Forgiveness over Bitterness

Ephesians 4:32

What is the worst sin that a Christian could commit? Murder? Adultery? Homosexuality? Incest? What would it be? Although these are awful sins, and many others might be noted, which would be the worst? God's Word makes it clear that from God's perspective there is no distinction made concerning sin. James tells us that the smallest infraction of God's law is the same as breaking all of God's law.

So from the Lord's viewpoint sin is sin, but with that in mind, we also need to realize that some sins have greater consequences to us here than others. Jesus told us that if we hate someone in our heart we are guilty of murder, but no one has been sent to the electric chair for hating another person. So, let's rephrase the question. Instead of asking what is the greatest sin that a Christian can commit, we need to ask what is the most destructive sin that a believer can commit.

In my experience, the most destructive of all sins is bitterness. Bitterness destroys people, families, and churches. Bitterness is an attitude that refuses to forgive offenses. Like a cancer, it grows until it destroys everything around it.

The opposite of bitterness is forgiveness. Forgiveness is an attitude that honestly acknowledges an offense and then dismisses it on the basis of God's forgiveness of us.

Bitterness holds on to an offense, but forgiveness brings release. So tonight the challenge is to choose forgiveness over bitterness. How can we do that? What if the hurt is deep and the pain is great? We can choose to forgive when we understand the basis for forgiveness.

I. The Biblical Basis of Forgiveness.

II. Joseph: A Great Example of Forgiveness.

III. How to choose forgiveness over bitterness.

The choice is ours. We can choose to remain bitter over what has happened in our lives, or we can choose to forgive. Think what it would have meant if Joseph had chosen bitterness. What about us tonight? Are there hurts that we have denied. Offenses which we have held on to? Acknowledge them...release them...and begin to experience the freedom that comes from choosing forgiveness over bitterness.