Our English word “resentment” comes from the Latin root, sentire, which means “to feel.” By adding the prefix “re-“, it becomes “to feel again.” And boy isn’t that exactly what resentment is! When someone first hurts us, we feel anger and pain; but as we recall the event, we “re-feel” the pain anew.
We rarely have a choice in whether or not someone hurts us. However we usually have the choice in how frequently we allow that event to loop through the theater of our mind. Continuously dredging up those old emotions threatens to harden our hearts into stones of resentment. Yes, it may dull the pain; but a hard, resentful heart has trouble loving anyone – not just the person who first wounded us. Therefore, resentment threatens all relationships, including marriages and friendships.
That’s why God had Paul write this:
…the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:24)
I can hear some of you saying, “But how? That’s easier said than done!” And I agree. Feeling angry and hurt when wronged is normal, and it takes time to process wounds – the deeper the wound, the longer the time. And some cases may require the help of trained professionals. So please don’t hear me saying this is easy.
But if we’re going to relive a painful situation, can I suggest a better alternative? First, if you haven’t already done so – forgive the offender. Yes – even if they haven’t apologized or asked for your forgiveness. Next, focus on how YOU are growing in your likeness of Christ having forgiven them. Bask in that God-honoring decision.
Now every time that old situation comes to mind, choose “to feel again” ONLY the joy of having followed Christ’s example of extending forgiveness. Give it a try and see if you don’t begin to actually feel (love) again! –Dave
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