Resentment is the only Substance that
Destroys its own Container
Resentment is described by Webster’s dictionary as a feeling of indignant displeasure because of something regarded as a wrong or insult. Resentment is not static. It smolders. It grows. It claims idle thoughts. It spreads into the whole personality. Like a malignant growth in the body, it saps strength, vitality and produces frailty and weakness. It is, indeed, a cancer of the soul. And like a cancer of the body, it may grow and remain undetected by others for some time. Only the person harboring the resentment is so affected. It is true, however, that outbursts from a sharp tongue, anger, or gossip may reveal the iceberg of resentment that hides beneath the surface. This destructive force, if not checked and dealt with will result in the destruction of its container, the separation of individuals from one another, division in families, communities and even in our churches. This is why the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Whether the perceived wrong or insult is actual or imaginary it will have destructive results first on those harboring resentment and eventually on others. How are we, then, to prevent and deal with resentments before they destroy us from the inside out?
Ken Bailey, in his book “The Good Shepherd” makes this statement. “We are what we remember.” He illustrates this with the following story. “A family has a serious automobile accident involving a drunk driver and some members of the family are killed. Then out of nowhere a total stranger at risk to herself stops, picks them up and takes them to the nearest hospital, saving the lives of other family members. Their losses will never be forgotten, but what will dominate their memories as a family? Will it be the horrors of the accident and its cause, or the extraordinary grace of their ‘good Samaritan?’ Their choice of dominant memory will influence the inner core of their being for the rest of their lives.”
I was in a medical practice of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine for more than forty one years. I was given opportunities to practice with outstanding partners and have access to the best consultations available for my patients. The hospitals and their personnel were always desirous of not only meeting the needs of my patients but mine as well. Those years, however, also included cancellation of my employment contract on two occasions with only a few weeks notification, and a long standing contract dispute at a different time. A failure to communicate about available funds to be transferred when I changed responsibilities resulted in the loss of a moderate amount of income. When I was out of town for a week, my partnership dissolved leaving me with no one with whom to share responsibility for the patients on weekends. The dominant theme, however, and one that I have chosen to remember and thank the Lord for daily is His constant care during those times, not only abundantly taking care of me professionally and my family financially, but in each instance revealing more of Himself to me, which has been and will continue to be of immeasurable value both now and in the ages to come. I can truly thank Him and praise Him for His care each and every day throughout all the years of my medical practice. Romans 8:37 says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” To be a conqueror is simply to regain what was lost. To be more than a conqueror is to have gained something from that experience that had it not been for the experience, you would never have been able to appreciate.
Have there been some nagging wrongs or insults which you have experienced in your life that periodically come to the surface? Such was the case years ago in my medical practice. Another physician had spoken critically of my relationship with Christ and had attempted to bring discredit on me professionally. After hearing about this from a third party, it would periodically come to my mind. I knew that I needed to seek the Lord’s direction about how to deal with this. The fourth chapter of Ephesians speaks to us about the process of change in our lives. For example in Ephesians 4:28 it says that the thief must not only stop stealing, but he must work with his hands so that he may have something to give to those in need. In other words, if he only stops stealing, he is simply an unemployed thief! The lesson here is that change takes place in our lives not simply by stopping an activity (trying not to resent his resentment!) but by replacing it with another activity that would be of benefit. The application to my life was straight forward. I began to pray for him and sought for ways to serve him in his medical practice. After a few years he became a friend and we actually had opportunities to attend several Bible study groups together. The Lord, through His word in Ephesians, had brought healing and restoration in the relationship.
With the many relationships we develop in this world, it would be unusual for us not to have felt that we were wronged or insulted at some point by someone. May the Lord give us His Grace to remember what He desires that we remember about those times. May He also give us His wisdom to do what is needed to allow healing to take place in our lives.
In Christ, Richard Spann