If you never forgive, and wish only for others to “get what they deserve” you will be just like Jonah. Jonah lives on through history in a very short story in the Bible as the example of how terrible and destructive bitterness can be, and how God will still accomplish his purposes without you while you sulk away.
Jonah sure had a reason to be bitter towards his enemies. In fact, this is one of those rare occasions where his enemies were 100% in the wrong, and he was 100% correct to be upset with them. His enemies were the Assyrians, a nation that had invaded his lands as well as many others: destroying, stealing, murdering, burning, raping, and ruining everyone and everything they touched.
In the story of Jonah, God calls Jonah to speak out about His coming wrath against the Assyrians. Jonah, forseeing that his enemies might actually change their ways and avoid destruction, refuses to bring this message of doom (and therefore possible grace) to them. His bitterness had affected him in such a way that when God himself spoke directly to Jonah, Jonah refused to do what God wanted because of his own anger and self-righteousness.
In other words, Jonah refused to obey God, to make sure his own enemies suffered.
This is where bitterness leads. Bitterness in your heart will one day prevent you from extending grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others.
Jonah was 100% correct in his assessment of his enemies; they were bad and his land deserved justice. It is perfectly understandable for me to see him desiring their doom. Yet God himself determined to do otherwise. Chances are that 99.9% of the people who read this will have this in common: the people who have wronged you personally have not done ANYTHING similar to the what the Assyrians did. Chances are, the situation on your end is not as cut and dry, and they are not even 100% wrong.
Chances are, bitterness is already destroying you and your ability to extend the Gospel of grace to others.
Choose Jesus, and reject bitterness. Choose kindness, and not contempt. Choose restoration, and not destruction. Choose the Gospel of hope, and not revenge. Choose undeserved words of blessing and encouragement, not whispers of slander and condemnation. Choose humility and unity, not pride. Choose to let go of bitterness so you can embrace Jesus. You can’t do both. Did you catch that?
Choose to let go of bitterness so you can embrace Jesus. You can’t do both.
I’m not saying it is easy. I am not saying it is fair. I am not saying it always makes sense. I am not saying it is going to change your situation. I am not saying those who have wronged you deserve it. I am not saying anything really, other than directing your attention to the book of Jonah in the Bible. Jesus called us to be fishers of men; Jonah was gulped up by a fish and puked up in filth to do what God wanted despite how bitter he was. Who knows what Jonah’s story might have been had he given his bitterness to the Lord and brought God’s message to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. We’ll never know.
Choose to let go of bitterness so you can embrace Jesus. You can’t do both. Which are you holding on to today?