Put It Away

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31 NKJV.  

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. – Hebrews 12:14-15 NKJV.  

Paul E. Donovan, Jr. who is 69-years-old has for 56-years had a grudge against a former childhood friend. Now, it is not that hard to understand why Donovan was upset with his friend; but, really, holding onto it for 56-years! Donovan claims that when he was 12-years-old his friend at the time stole $300 from a wooden box in his room. That would be enough to upset anyone for a while. How do we know Donovan has held a grudge for all these years? Because, the tombstone of his former childhood friend was vandalized several times by Donovan.  

In 2014, Donovan spray painted “John” in bright orange on the gravestone, this was done twice. Later in the year it was vandalized again, this time with tar-like substance that was poured over the stone. A camera was then set up by police to try to catch the perpetrator of these acts of vandalism. In May of 2015, the perp was caught on video stealing lights that had been set up around the tombstone to try to prevent more vandalism. Donovan did immediately confess to the crime when arrested, but said at time of his arrest that he will, “pay back any restitution minus the $300 he was owed over 56 years ago.” A judge has sentenced Donovan to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1500 in restitution to the family. Wonder how the judge will react to Donovan just paying $1200? (Daily Local News 08.04.16)  

It is likely that everyone reading this has had someone do something to them that has caused pain, and likely anger at the time. Fifty years ago someone stole a #1 Spiderman comic book from me that was in mint condition. The record sale price for one of those is $110,000. If I still had the comic it is likely it would have been worth only a few thousand, because I would have read it, and looked at it, and the value would have decreased. I think I know who took the comic, but you know what? I would pay thousands of dollars to not carry a grudge for fifty years! It was just something that happened long ago, and I blame myself for leaving the comic where someone would be tempted to take it. And, think of the guilt that person had, because they stole it.  

With Paul Donovan we can see the danger to our emotional and spiritual well-being from allowing bitterness to grow in our lives. That “bitter root” like a plant will slowly grow until the fruit of bitterness springs up causing trouble and moral defilement making a person unfit for serving God. The solution to such bitterness is to immediately confess our bitterness to our Lord as 1 John 1:9 directs. Not only will our bitterness, even our grudge be forgiven, but our God will comfort us so that the bitterness and anger is wiped away, replaced with His peace which transcends all understanding. If you are holding onto a grudge, let it go through the power of God before the evil fruit springs up in your life. Put it away from you as Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”

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