Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Cost of Unforgiveness (Part Two)

Tuesday – September 3, 2013

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.  For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost.  New wine calls for new wineskins.                             Mark 2:22 (NLT)
I wish I could show you a picture of the fence.  We lived in Gainesville, Florida in the mid 1980’s.  Every morning as I drove along 23rd Avenue
to the church I was confronted by one of the more dramatic illustrations of what it is like to live with unforgiveness.
It was a typically-rural Southern style split-rail fence that surrounded the small pasture with a couple of horses and goats.  It was a serene, Norman Rockwell kind of setting.
The unusual feature was how the fence was finished-off at one end of the property.  I don’t know if they ran out of posts or just didn’t want to cut down the palm tree; they had laid each of the three rails in the trimmed lower branches of the palm, and nailed them to the tree.
Opportunistic, saving the cost of one post…or just not wanting to dig that last post-hole (which probably would have been my choice), they had doomed the life-span of that three rail fence.  Over time the tree had grown – the fence rails and posts had not!  The rails, nailed to the palm tree had objected to the tree’s growth, and the strain placed on the rails and post had uprooted the post and cracked the rails.  It was a mess.  The property owner had made the fatal error of attaching dead things to living ones.

Dead things will not tolerate growing

In yesterday’s (part one) post we looked at “why” we should forgive (God said so).  And we saw that the cost of unforgiveness is that we place ourselves outside of God’s grace; we remain unforgiven for our own sins. 
For the rest of this week, let’s look at the “how” of cleaning unforgiveness from our lives.  The palm tree split-rail fence is our icon to remember the first principle of not holding-on to unforgiveness:

Don’t attach dead stuff to living things

Getting the right mind-set is 9-tenths of winning the battle between the ears; especially when it comes to not forgiving. 
When someone has wronged you, and you feel that sense of resentment building, it is time to name it for what it is – dead!  Unforgiveness is a dead carcass which you have taken into your life.  Picturing it as such will help you deal with it.  Nobody wants to carry around a dead carcass. 
Paul referred to wine’s fermenting process, and how the wine will expand.  If you put it in an older, brittle wineskin, in short order you’ll have a wine tsunami!  The swelling wine will burst the skin and everything is lost.
You must picture the resentment you have towards your brother or sister as if it is a dead skin – or rail attached to the living spirit God wants for your soul life.  If you attach such a thing it has only two ways to go:
·        The dead thing will restrict the growth of new life, or…
·        The living thing will break your dead thing all to pieces.
Either of those choices is anything but the abundant life God wants to pour into you.

Today – do you have any dead stuff attached to your new life?

Make the decision to dig a post-hole for the dead unforgiving things, so you can leave them in the dust behind.  

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