Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Heaven's Arsenal - Part 8

Heaven's Arsenal: "The Power of Love" (continued)

 The Fruits of the Holy Spirit - LOVE

As I mentioned in my prior blog (part 4-7 of the Heaven's Arsenal series), Heavenly Love demonstrates one's attainment of full spiritual maturity. This is because God works to teach us to love even those who hate and abuse us. This is Heaven's kind of Love! 

"For if ye love them which love you, what thanks have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thanks have ye? For sinners also do even the same." Matthew 6:32-33

The opposite of having Heavenly Love towards our offenders is having bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. The problem with bitterness is that it is a soul-poison, which we take internally, never realizing that we're bitter. Bitter people never think they're bitter. When I was embittered towards Brandi and her family, I never thought of myself as bitter towards them.

So the first step in developing Heavenly Love for your offenders is releasing one's own bitterness. And the first step in being delivered from one's bitterness is recognizing it. The following are some tell-tale signs which reveal that bitterness is present in the soul:

1) You speak badly about the person you are bitter against. Romans 3:14 says, "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."

2) You rehash the things that your offender has done against you over and over again - to person after person. (You may not be aware of doing this, but ask your family members if you tell the same old offenses over and over again.) Doing this creates "sides" between yourself and your offender.

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very (close) friends." Proverbs 17:9

3) Your close family members or dearest friends are bitter against your offenders. Bitterness spreads from you to those who are closest to you. The "bitter root" in Hebrews 12:15 is first described in Deuteronomy 29:18.

"...Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit."
4) Over a long time, holding onto bitterness will even rob you of your health. 

Concordia University psychologists Erin Dunne and Carsten Wrosch collaborated with University of British Columbia's Gregory Miller for a study on bitterness, which was to be published in the journal Health Psychology.  Wrosch connects bitterness to physical ailments:

"Health psychology has shown that negative emotions can influence stress responses and release the hormone cortisol. Chronically high levels of this hormone in turn can disrupt other bodily systems, including the immune system. If this happens, it can increase vulnerability of a person to developing a number of diseases."
Bitterness is obviously most likely to develop in situations where you feel you have been wronged by someone. And it is especially likely to develop when we believe we have been wronged without having done anything to deserve it. 

From a spiritual warfare perspective, bitterness is the opposite of Heavenly Love. We cannot love someone - with God's kind of love - and be embittered against them at the same time. But bitterness goes even deeper than that. For when we are embittered against another person, we also cannot truly love God.

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." 1 John 4:20-21

This is why it is vitally important for every Christian to gain the Spiritual Warfare weapon of Love - which may only be accomplished through overcoming bitterness.

In the next few blogs, I will address the ways God showed me to overcome it - in order to grow in love for those who were my offenders. And the good news is - by God's Grace - it is possible for us to learn to let go of bitterness and learn to love others - even those who are our enemies!

(To be continued in the next blog - Heaven's Arsenal - Part 9)