Sanctification follows -necessarily follows - justification. Augustine said, “On your exceedingly great mercy rests all my hope. Give what you command, and then command whatever you will.” The grace of God gives what the law commands.
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” said Yogi Berra. Paul takes us to a fork in the road of trouble. Will you choose the path of bitterness or forgiveness? Once you choose bitterness, you step on the escalator that leads almost automatically to wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice.
Riding the bitterness escalator must be put away from you. Why is this imperative passive? It perhaps points out that the power to change comes from God through the gospel. God can work this bitterness out of your life.
Picture a Vacuum cleaner. You turn it on but nothing happens - unless it is plugged in. If is plugged in, the power doesn’t come from flipping the switch. It’s like that with the Christian life. The Power, the Holy Spirit, is there; faith is the switch.
Are you living in resentment? Is your cup filled with bile and bitterness? Do you blame others for the bitterness that you perpetually nurture in your own heart? Put it away from you. Cast it away. Are you easily angered? Are your buttons easy to push? Some people have “buttons” covering every inch of their body. Touch them any way and they explode!
God can replace our bitterness with kindness. In Christ and in the Christian community, we are to practice mutual generosity, mercy, and forgiveness. We are to be really good at these things; we are to be known for these things.
Kindness is better done than described. You know what kindness is. Now, act in kindness toward others. It is not thinking good thoughts, but doing good things, speaking kind words.
Does your heart go out to others? Do you feel compassion for them? Do you act in compassion? Even towards those who have hurt you?
You can only forgive a sinner. Forgiveness is a tremendous blessing. We say, in essence, “In spite of your sin, and in light of your repentance, I release you. I choose not to hold this sin against you anymore. I am reconciled to you as my brother or sister in Christ. As far as I can, I release you from the guilt and shame and punishment of this sin.” That is how we have been forgiven by God.
Do not allow bitterness to become a perpetually renewable energy source. One cause of bitterness can fuel you entire life if you let it. The new man, the new community in Christ, has a better response. Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving others just as God in Christ has forgiven you. This is the gospel applied in your everyday life. This is how we live out the gospel.