God's Money

It's His. Not Yours.

God's Money is a blog that helps people use their financial resources in a God-honoring way. A blog post is typically released every Monday written by Donald F. White.

Post #5 "Solar Eclipse Math"

Solar Eclipse Math

Last Monday I was in Nashville for our company’s annual convention.  These conferences are planned months in advance and, believe it not, a year ago no one was talking about the full solar eclipse that was going to go directly over Nashville on August 21st when this thing was planned.  If they had, there is no way the company would have received the normal corporate rates we received!  Beyond that, the meeting was planned without any mention or thought about the eclipse prior to about 6-8 weeks ago!   

However, last Monday afternoon’s schedule revolved completely around making sure everyone was out on the patio of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (where we were staying) with their special solar eclipse glasses ready to watch The Event!  Watching the eclipse was amazing!  In 61 years, I had never witnessed a full solar eclipse.   It was simply incredible to watch the moon completely cover the sun as though they were the exact same size.  In fact, when the moon was in lock step with the sun for those two minutes it was nothing short of awe inspiring.  When you took off the glasses you could look right at the sun’s corona around the shadow of the moon without any danger of eye damage.  The outside patio lights came on and there was an afterglow on the entire horizon – not just in the west – but all around you!  The sheer visceral nature was an amazing experience.  As we stood watching this event, a few of us started talking about the mathematics involved in this whole thing.   

The sun is massive.  The earth is much smaller, but still immense.  The moon, of course, is even smaller, but it is also huge!  For the most part, we take these enormous spheres for granted, but the math behind an eclipse is mind-boggling! Is it not remarkable that these ever-present objects — though separated by nearly one hundred million miles — should once in a very great while perform this curiously perfect dance performed only for earthlings? Anywhere but here on this planet last Monday, the view of these two objects, the sun and the earth’s moon, was nothing special. It is only what we see from our terrestrial vantage point that is special. It’s almost as though what we will marvel at was artfully arranged specifically for our benefit. Which brings us to the math. 

The diameter of the sun is 864,576 miles across. The diameter of the moon is 2,159 miles across. The distance from Earth to the sun, which varies slightly, is generally measured at 93 million miles. The distance from Earth to the moon, which also varies a little, is about 239,000 miles.  

Armed with these four figures, you can do some simple math. If you divide the sun’s diameter (864,576) by the moon’s (2,159) you get a ratio fractionally over 400:1.  Because the moon covers all but the sun’s corona in an eclipse, the ratio of the relative diameters of the sun and the moon and the relative distances of the earth to the moon and the earth to the sun, should be just less.  And, naturally, they are! When you divide the distance from the Earth to the sun (93,000,000) by the distance from the Earth to the moon (239,000) The ratio is just under 390:1.  The more I thought about this, the more amazed I became.   Was the correlation in these ratios a coincidence, or something else? 

Of course, what this all meant was simply that these old, vast objects, though as different in size as a single BB and a six-foot wide beach ball, would from our perspective seem almost precisely the same size all the time.  So, when they just happened to align in the sky over Nashville Monday afternoon, which naturally must happen from time to time, they would match up perfectly. Not almost perfectly, but with absolute perfection.  And, perfectly every time they align!  

What are the odds of this just happening randomly? Some of the planets in our solar system have no moons.  Some have many.  The astronomers tell us Jupiter has 60! Every moon is a different size. Stargazers will tell you, in our solar system, a solar eclipse is unique to earth!  Our planet has just one moon and it is just the right size and distance from Earth to eclipse the 857,000 miles-across star that is 93,000,000 miles from here!  

Do you find the precision in all of this as incredible as I do? The more you think about it, the more farfetched the idea of this being a mere coincidence becomes. It seems completely planned, as all things of such precision must be. 

To bring this closer to home, imagine holding a BB twelve inches from our face and then asking a friend to carry a six-foot diameter beach ball as far down the beach until it appeared precisely the same size from that perspective as the tiny BB. Keep in mind the beach ball is six-feet in diameter, not the two-footer you normally play with in the pool.  You will need to trek 400 feet before the giant beach ball and the tiny BB match up in size. That’s about the distance from home plate to the centerfield fence in Miami Marlins Park! 

Can the sun’s and moon’s diameters — and distances from Earth — be coincidentally matched up this perfectly? Everything about it makes the premise seem preposterous.  Three thousand years ago the Psalmist wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” That man didn’t have a telescope.  He did not have Google.  He was not an astronomer! He simply saw something many of us still do not see. He saw God!  It may be true that seeing a Grand Designer behind breath-taking events, like the eclipse, requires a leap of faith. 

However, seeing this as a coincidence probably requires an even greater leap of faith. You tell me!  Email me at donaldfwhite@gmail.com.  

Post #4 "What is Agape Love?"

What is Agape Love?

By definition, agape love is love that is the highest, purest form of love possible. 

More often than not, our understanding of agape love directly correlates to how we love others.

If we do not love ourselves or understand how much someone first loved us (i.e. our creator GOD), our capacity to practice agape love is limited.

 If the understanding of God's love was assigned a numerical value, (let's say 100).

The amount of love we give to others has to come from whatever the first number is (100, 70, 50, 35 etc.)

 It seems obvious but worth noting that we could choose to love someone with a numerical value of 0 even if we have a capacity to love someone with a 99.

Simply put, we choose how much we love someone.

So at the end your equation could look like this:

75/100 (Your understanding of God's love/ Full and Pure Agape Love)

 65/75 ( How much you love someone/ Your capacity to love)


The Numbers Explained:

- God's love never changes (100)

- Your Capacity is 75, because that is what you THINK it is
(* God doesn't change, WE do)

- You can choose any number between 0-75  as a numerical representation for how you treat someone. You cannot love more than what you understand (like a 76+ in this example)

In the above example, you have a somewhat distorted view of God because of past circumstances that have place doubt over your life (think abandonment, rejection etc.)

Thus your understanding of God is average but still limited.

So now we have an equation that explains how agape love is represented in our life, but let's learn more about the guy that first showed us agape love.

Jesus.

In your opinion, when did Jesus die for you?

Most say 2,000 years ago and that would be the right answer. Sort of.

Let's Also look at this:

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

*At the peak of our sin, and look at the past/future tense here.

God died for us.

He died for you at the peak and totality of your sin. Period.

So why do we strive and view God as the taskmaster? 

Just a guy sitting up there keeping score like a sporting match.

A fully loving God wouldn't need you to do anything for him, right?

Then why do we do things to impress God?

Can you do anything that would make God not love you?
 

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:18

When you fall in love you don’t think about it

You just DO. Right?

Sometimes we say: If I really loved God I would do more or love more or xyz more or xyz less, but is this true? Can God love us MORE?

The two scriptures that are used when it comes to faith vs. works are:

Ephesians 2:8-9

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

And

James 2:14-18

“14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

When you fall down a cliff, or fall down stairs, you aren't trying. It’s natural. Awkward but true right?

You have to PUSH yourself off, but once you get going it’s all natural from there.

It is only a natural reaction for someone in love to want to make the object of their love feel happy, satisfied, loved, valued, and that you pay attention to them and want to serve them.

Thus:

When you love God, it overflows into works.

  1. God loves you whether you sit in a room for the rest of your life as long as that meant you loved him to your full extent or become Mother Teresa

  2. If you HAD to do, Jesus’s death and it’s value is nullified.

  3. Be a Be do, not a do be. (Know who you are and just be, and out of that knowledge Do! The other way around produces task master Christians doing what “a christian SHOULD do)

  4. Works does not equal salvation, it is a natural byproduct of your faith and love for Christ

How to pursue God and his Agape love:

Picture a room you enter and ask if Jesus is in there and before waiting and not hearing anything you leave. Jesus reveals himself later because you were more concerned with an answer than genuine interest in finding him.

“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,” Isaiah 58:9

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;

   in the morning I lay my requests before you

   and wait expectantly” Psalm 5:3
 

David cries out just like you.

“I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping

   and drench my couch with tears.” Psalm 6:6

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44  (this was Jesus!)

When discerning a situation, person, thought, action think:
What fruit does this align with?
 

Fruit of the Spirit?

love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Enemy Fruit?

 confusion, judgment, shaming, seeking to destroy, bullying, negative thoughts.

Are there any events/situations in your life that are sources of confusion, judgment, shame, anxiety?  As a result, how do you view God in this situation?

What's the truth?

Pursue and he will be found.

We may not be able to fully grasp agape love in it's entirety, but God is a patient, loving and kind father who is willing to show us glimpses of it and show us how to get more of it!

Love often and always.

Post #3 "Should Believers Sue One Another?"

Should Believers SUE ? 
 

I was recently asked if the Scripture, not to sue another believer, is applicable today. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He says, “If anyone wants to sue you, take your shirt and coat and give them both to him.”  Paul says, if you have a dispute it is better to be defrauded than take the matter to court (See 1 Corinthians 6.1-8).   

There are many reasons for lawsuits.  Frankly, a lawsuit is most likely the result of someone violating Scripture in the first place.  Maybe you lent money at interest to another believer.  Possibly you overextended yourself, borrowed to invest, or any number of things Scripture tells you not to do.  But mostly, when you get attached to material things and  think this world is your eternal nest, you end up trying to protect your worldly interests.  As a result, you think, "if someone wrongs me, or takes my money, I need to protect my money. "

As you subscribers known, the whole thesis of what I teach is, 

It is not your money, it is God’s Money. 

  Indeed, all we have is a gift from God.  Nothing more, nothing less. I love the way Paul puts it to the Corinthians.

“All things are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.  Let every person regard you as a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God.”  

A steward is responsible for caring for the worldly affairs of the lord of the estate, but owns nothing of it, himself.  If someone defrauds a steward, it is not the steward who pursues the fraud, it is the steward’s lord who will decide whether to pursue the culprit or merely forgive him.  Either way, it is the steward’s job to report the incident to the master of the house, i.e., his lord (small “i”), and let his master decide how to pursue the matter.  The problem is when you think you are the lord of the house, and not a steward working for that lord, you suffer from what I like to refer to as “misplaced ownership”.     

Remember what the Scripture says, 

“Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” 

Let God be God, and you the faithful steward of the Lord (Big “L”).  Giving the matter to God is by far the best option, for it is better to be defrauded than to suffer all the angst of a lawsuit. 

Furthermore, Paul, writing to these same Corinthians, went on to say believers are new creations with a new ministry of reconciliation.  Even though you may avoid a lawsuit, there is still the matter of unresolved conflict, which is more important than financial resolution. 

The Bible says if you have a conflict with someone go and meet with them privately, and attempt to resolve it together.  If the other person is unresponsive, take one or two others with you, and speak to the person again.  If the person still does not listen, seek resolution from the body of believers. 

If that does not work, walk away.   

It isn't easy, but there is help!  In Montana, there is a ministry called Peacemakers.  Peacemakers mission is “to equip and assist believers to respond to conflict Biblically.”  You should check out their website.  

If you have an unresolved conflict, get it resolved.  If you need help, use the formula I laid out above.  If you cannot work it out yourself, contact Peacemakers and ask them to help.  Nevertheless, do not forget you are a steward of God’s Money.  You do not “own’ what you have, you are merely managing those assets on God’s behalf. 

See you again soon!


Donald F. White

Want to check on on Don, Grace and the kids?
Send me an email at donaldfwhite@gmail.com

Post #2 "M.O.N.E.Y."

Five Things

That Cause People to

Struggle with Money 

I am asked one question more than any other:

 “Don, why do I struggle with money?” 

It seems struggling with money is a universal problem with as many differ struggles as there are people.  A few years ago, in preparing for a God’s Money segment for the radio, I tried to narrow it down and come up with some common issues that relate to virtually everyone.  I came up with five common mistakes that people make when it comes to handling money.  The cool part was that these five issues are found right in the word, “MONEY”, namely: 

  • Mimicking the lifestyle of other (usually more successful) people. 
  • Overcome by peer pressure. 
  • No idea where your money goes. 
  • Ego.
  • Yielding to your earnings regardless of your earnings. 

I remember as a young man in my twenties, I met a man, several years older than me, who seemed to have it all.  Dave worked for the government, the US Customs, as I recall, but I am not sure.  What I know for sure is Dave had a lifestyle I envied.  He had a great job.  His family had an awesome house with four big bedrooms, a pool, a two-car garage, in a wonderful neighborhood west of town.  Both he and his wife drove the latest cars, could tithe to the church, and always seemed to have their finances under control.   As a twenty-something, I started to think, if Dave and Betty could have a big house, why can’t Grace and I?  If Dave can have a new car, why can’t I? If Dave…I think you see where I am going.  Of course, I should have just said,

“Don, all in due time.  Dave is in his forties. He did not start out in a four bedroom west of town.  He did not start out with two new cars.” 

But, unfortunately, I only saw the lifestyle and did not appreciate the struggle it took to get there.   

Mimicking the lifestyles of people who are successful, especially when you are not, leads to what I like to call,

“Fake it until you make it Syndrome”. 


The sad truth, however, is lifestyle has a cost and when you fake it, lots of bad things usually result.  For me, I found myself early in my life with house payments, car payments, credit card payments, the works, because of my envy over the lifestyle of someone who had built a sustainable lifestyle over time.  But I wanted it NOW!  

Here’s the solution.  Live on less than you can.  Most of all, do not worry about keeping up with “Dave” (and we all have one!) because it is a fool’s game. 

The Scripture says, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  For I have learned the secret of contentment, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4.11-13)” 

You can be content and still build a better lifestyle for your family.  The secret is to live within your means and trust God to guide you through the process.   

Secondly, do not be overcome by peer pressure.  Just yesterday I was out playing golf with a good friend and up ahead there were several foursomes of young guys that obviously had not studied the “golf etiquette manual”.  One or two guys started behaving badly, and before you knew it, all 16 were pretty much out of control.  I do not know these guys, but when I came into the clubhouse after we were all done, I hardly recognized them.  They were all sitting at tables, well behaved, and getting ready to order lunch.  All the rabble rousing was gone.  On the course, they were acting like spoiled brats and in the restaurant, they were gentlemen. What changed?  I am not exactly sure, but obviously something (or someone) got them started on the course and someone else settled them down in the clubhouse.  If I were a betting man, I would bet it was peer pressure that led to the bad behavior outside and peer pressure again that led to their good behavior inside. 

The truth is most people are highly influenced, both positively and negatively, by their peers.  John Maxwell once wrote, “All leadership is influence.  Nothing more, nothing less.”  Be careful not to be led down a path of destruction by your peers.  Before you just aimlessly follow the leader, analyze whether their leadership is leading you down the best path.  If you find yourself being influenced negatively by your peers, stop!  Yes, just stop and you become the influencer.  If just one person had the guts to say to those boys to stop doing what they were doing on the course, I am guessing the behavior would have changed.  Watch out for peer pressure.  It can easily overwhelm you. 

While mimicking other people’s lifestyle and being overcome by peer pressure certainly cause huge financial challenges, the most tangible mistake people make financially is not having any idea where the money goes!  Today, with all the resources available to track spending, there is really no excuse for not knowing where your money goes.  However, technology can make us lazy.  I was talking to a young gal, that I have known since she was child, last week, who is now a wife and mother of three.  She told me she had no idea where all the money was going.  It seemed no matter how much her husband and she earned, they could never get ahead.  I told her to go back and track every dollar they had spent over the past six months.  What, at first, seemed like a prodigious task, turned out to be very easy because they paid for almost everything by either a credit card, writing a check, or using their debit cards.  I love the email she sent me.  It started out saying, “So we did it!! We sat down and worked thru the nitty gritty and included EVERY single bill and penny we spend every month. We've discovered that we spend a lot! And so much of it is unnecessary!!! It's been quite a few years since we've done this. But we really like the idea you gave us to "pay ourselves" every month.” 

If you have no idea where the money goes, stop it!  Get a handle on where the money is going.  Start taking control of your finances because either you control your finances or your finances control you, the choice is yours.  Just like my young friends you can know where the money goes. Begin now tracking everything and eliminating what is unnecessary.  Believe me, I get it!  Managing money is hard, but it is not optional, because no matter how much money you make, you can never afford to stop managing it.   

The fourth letter in our MONEY acrostic stands for ego.  Ego is the Greek word for “me”.  Caring about me first leads to countless financial challenges.  How many times have you asked yourself, “What’s in this for me?”  It’s a self-defense mechanism, that on the face of it, is good, but left to its own devices can lead to a myriad of problems.  I want what I want, when I want what I want, is the problem of the ages.  Interestingly, ego is also an acronym for “edge God out”.  When you consistently put your interest first, not only do other people get edged out, but God is rarely even in the equation.  Edging God out of your financial decision making is a losing proposition.  Why would you not want the God of the Universe, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, to be your financial guide?  If you think about it, edging God out of your finances is crazy, because who knows more about your needs than God?  But, ego is a demanding companion.  Put God first in your life.  It sounds so simple, but in truth, it is hard.  But even though it is tough, trusting God with your finances is the best choice every time. 

Closely associated with ego is the “Y” in the MONEY acrostic – yielding to your yearnings regardless of your earnings.  There is nothing, in and of itself, wrong with wanting better things.  However, yours eyes can be bigger than your wallet.  Even Donald Trump cannot buy everything in the Mall!  Years ago, I came up with an expression I call “Living on the 80”.  What that means is budget to live on no more than 80% of your income.  Most people find this virtually impossible, but it is not.  It just means learning how to say no to good things.  Spending less and saving more is the basis of financial success.  I have never met anyone who lived on 80% of their income that struggled financially, but I know countless people that struggle because they are totally dependent on that next paycheck.  Back in the time of the patriarch, Jacob, the Book of Genesis records the story of Jacob’s son, Joseph.  According to Genesis, Joseph is banished by his brothers to become a slave in Egypt.  However, God had other plans and Joseph ends up second in command to the Pharaoh.  Joseph foresaw a great famine that was going to strike Egypt and advised Pharaoh to have all the Egyptians prepare for the famine by setting aside 20% of all they produced and living on the remaining 80%.  Sure enough, the famine hit, and when it did, everyone, including Jacob and his family, came to Egypt for provisions.  Everyone, at one time or another, will experience a “famine” in their life.  If you set aside funds when things are good, you will have what you need to get you through those lean times. 

The five lessons in the MONEY acrostic can really impact your life.  Avoid mimicking the lifestyles of other people.  Pay close attention to peer pressure and do not get caught in the trap of following the crowd.  Always pay close attention to where your money goes.  Never edge God out of your finances!  You are not the center of the universe.  Finally, live on a lot less than you think you can.  Do not allow your yearnings to overwhelm your earnings.  Make these five things the center of your financial life and you will never be asking the question,

“Don, why am I struggling with my finances?"

Post #1 "I'm Only Human

 

I’m Only Human

While there are many things that differentiate humans from the other creatures that roam the earth, two stand out to me: 

  1. Our unique ability to communicate with words, not only spoken, but written, and 

  1. Our unique ability to trade goods and services in exchange for money. 

Speaking to one another is so important that even mute people communicate words with “sign language” that not only the deaf, but anyone can learn to “speak”.  Not only is speaking words extremely important, but the ability to communicate via written words separates us from every other creature on Earth.  Is it any wonder that the Apostle John starts his book with, “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God” (John 1.1)?   

Not only does our use of language make us unique, so does our use of money.  If you think about it money, in and of itself, is just paper or rocks.  Gold, silver, platinum, or other “precious stones” only have more “value” than other material, because humans have deemed it.  Indeed, much, if not virtually all, human interaction involves wealth and money.  Take away money from people and they, unlike the other creatures on the planet, become destitute. Is it any wonder that virtually every book written at one point or another has money somewhere in the storyline?  Hence the Apostle writes, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people eager for money, have wondered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1Timothy 6.10). 

I studied Journalism and Communication in college.  I am totally fascinated with language.  If you listen or read my Bible studies I publish weekly, you know I love the nuance of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek that the book was originally penned.  I also love finance.  I like to say when I made my entry into the workforce I chose money over writing, when I became a financial advisor over a journalist. 

While words and money are what distinguish humans from the primates, words and money often separate people.  I am not sure if every destroyed relationship has at its root either words and/or money, but it is right up there.  The old ballad is true - People need people.  Yet how often do you allow hurt over words and/or money to come between you and another?  Spouses divorce.  Brothers never speak to one another again.  Friends go their separate ways.  The list of crushed relationships over words and money is endless. 

Nevertheless, there is another uniquely human activity that can miraculously suave the wounds, break the shell of silence, and restore relationships – forgiveness.  Forgiveness, if you think about it, is the divine solution.  The common human solution is if someone wrongs you, just cut off the relationship.  Withdraw, love at a distance, avoid intimacy or involvement.  Most of all, if you do “forgive”, you should never forget.  You know the saying, “Dog bites once, dog’s fault…”  And how many times has that separating hurt centered around something related to money? 

The most pressing question every human needs to answer is why.  Why should I forgive?  To many, forgiveness seems too easy. That person who wronged me needs to pay for his or her sin!  He or she needs to suffer the consequences.    

When the transgression is financial, the immediate thought is restitution.  The thief should be made to repay what was stolen and then some.  Recently, someone came into my mom’s apartment and stole her jewelry.  Mom was given money from her loss, but she is still upset.  How do you repay the sentimental loss?  How do you “repay” the loss of security she now feels?  How do you repay what was taken from her emotionally, socially, or relationally? The truth is the victim is usually powerless to demand restitution and the perpetrator rarely can ever repay any way.  Restitution is great, but it does not restore relationships.  

What about revenge?  If repayment does not work, maybe I can exact revenge – an eye for an eye.  That is Biblical, right? But as David Augsburger once wrote in his book, “70 times 7”, “If you attempt to get even with your enemy, you just become even with your enemy.”  In fact, David writes, “Doing something to get back at your rival puts you below your rival.”  Revenge essentially lowers you to your rival’s lowest level.  Furthermore, it can boomerang and keep the injury within you. Revenge punishes the victim.  It aims the weapon of revenge on yourself hoping the recoil will hurt the perpetrator.  Revenge simply does not work.  It corrupts the avenger while having no impact on the wrongdoer. 

Here is the issue – we are only human.  Humans have feelings.  Humans not only hurt physically, we hurt (maybe even more) emotionally.  Worse yet, since we put such a high value on money in our culture, when you are hurt financially, resentment can take the soul hostage and quickly grow to full blown hate.  Hatred is the costliest of emotions.  Even though it may warm you at first, ultimately, it sears your conscience and you often become leery of others who have never even hurt you.  Have you ever noticed when you have not forgiven someone how bad you often feel?  I know for me, when I start acting caustically, suspiciously, or find myself being hypercritical of others, I usually need to forgive someone or something.  Wishing destruction on another is self-destructive.  It can lead to elevated blood pressure, ulcers, stress, even death. It is not worth the exorbitant cost associated with it.   Even worse, it will make you bitter, the cruelest killer of all.  Hence, the Apostle wrote, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice and evil speaking be put away from you, and be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, even as God through Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4.31) 

Bitterness is like a cast.  It protects you from further injury, but it also keeps you from using the casted limb.  It is paralyzing!  Worse, it does not allow you to respond to your soul, freezing reason and emotion.  Do you want to be cynical, uncaring, critical, caustic, and not trust people or God?  Crawl into a shell of distrust and let bitterness rule your soul.  But here’s the kicker – bitterness becomes an excuse for acting badly and irresponsibly.  It allows you to play the blame game where you blame everyone but yourself.  It is a cyclical, repetitive, tightly closed circle of self-centered pain.  I once heard it compared to learning to ride a bike.  You get the bike going, but you do not know how to stop.  Afraid to quit, you just keep peddling hoping your dad will just grab the handlebars and get you off! 

The only way to be healed when you have been hurt is to take the divine approach rather than the human one – forgiveness!  Forgiveness is letting go of the pain to the Lord God Almighty.  Forgiveness is accepting those who have injured us just like God did for us.  It opens you up, rather than shutting you down.  Most of all, it opens you up to God’s acceptance and His forgiveness.  Jesus said it best in the Lord’s Prayer, “…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Amen.