This is the third of four articles on Resentment.
Resentment is a sickness of the heart where bitterness has put down roots. The first two articles of the series describe the destructive nature of a resentful attitude (Rx for A Bitter Heart, Part 1: The Disease) and list the telltale signs of a heart infected by bitterness (Rx for A Bitter Heart, Part 2: The Symptoms).
Although resentment is both forceful and insidious, it need not be fatal. Treatment begins with heart-deep changes that neutralize unforgiving attitudes and make room for God’s healing work.
The TREAT Model
Treatment for a bitter heart proceeds in five steps, listed below as the TREAT model. Each step is supported by the Bible verses indicated in parentheses.
T – Turn back to God. (Hebrews 12:14-15; Psalm 51:10) – Decide that deepening your relationship with God is more important than clinging to your resentment. We always grow one relationship at the expense of the other—when we feed our grudge, we weaken our relationship with God, and vice versa. Confess to God how you have allowed bitter roots to take hold of your heart, and ask him to cleanse you.
R – Remember that God forgave you. (Colossians 3:13; Romans 5:10) – God calls us to bear with each other and forgive each other as he forgave us while we were still his enemies. When God forgave you, his mercy was a gift he expects you to share with others.
E – Empathize with your offender. (Romans 3:22-23) – Realize that you probably have more in common with your offender than you’d care to admit. There is no difference among sinners; we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Recognize that you and your offender are equally helpless to achieve heaven without God’s grace and forgiveness.
A – Adopt God’s perspective. (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11-12) – Although you may see no good reason for your suffering, God will use every experience to shape and refine us into a closer image of his Son, if we trust him. Believe that God will work for your good even through your deepest wounding.
T – Trust God to judge. (Romans 17:19; Isaiah 55:8-9) – God warns us not to take our own revenge but to leave judgment to him. Our human judgment is always faulty because our perceptions are so limited and self-focused. Surrender your right to judge even if you don’t understand God’s purpose and timing or why you had to suffer.
Okay, so you’re dealing with the resentment in your life, but you’d like to know how to keep those bitter roots from taking hold in the first place. How can we protect ourselves from slipping into the habit of an unforgiving attitude?
Watch for the final article in the series, Rx for A Bitter Heart, Part 4: The Cure. Learn the seven practices of building up your spiritual immunity and staying strong in Christ.