LUKE 17:17-19: “So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: “Do you want to be bitter…or get better?” These were some of the most sobering words that I ever have been asked by the Lord. They came at a pivotal time in my life. I had just walked through one of the darkest times in my life, and I was on the road to recovery. Yet, deep within my heart was a brooding anger that was smoldering and trying to ignite the flames of bitterness. The writer of Hebrews speaks to this when he writes,
- “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Hebrews 12:14-17 NKJV)
I was angry and hurt from a personal betrayal that reached so deep within me that it darkened and influenced every moment of my day. Anger was slowly becoming the smoldering embers of bitterness and hatred. Lost in this cloud of self pity and self justification I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit ask me – “Do you want to be bitter…or get better?” I knew what the Lord was calling me to do, and I was resisting it. The Lord was calling me to extend forgiveness to the one who had hurt me so deeply. I did not want to do it. I did not feel like doing it. I resisted, and the Spirit persisted in asking me this question over and over again.
I was reminded of this when I read this account of the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus. It stuck me that 10 lepers were healed, but only ONE was made whole! 9 Lepers received a physical healing, but their lives went on as usual, there was no lasting change. They did not return to worship and follow Jesus. Only one leper received both a physical healing and more importantly a spiritual healing. This was where I found myself. I was healed, but I was faced with the question – “Did I want to be made whole?” I thank the Lord that by His Great Grace I responded to His call.
Releasing my anger, surrendering the smoldering embers of bitterness, I took the first steps toward forgiveness. As I walked toward His will I began to realize that I was healed. The more I responded with forgiveness and blessing toward the one who had deeply wounded me, the more I became free of the bitterness that had gripped my heart. Then it happened! I found myself kneeling at the feet of Jesus. I heard His voice. He said – “Arise, go your way, your faith has made you whole!” The grip that bitterness had on my heart was broken. I received a new capacity to love. And it was not just toward the one who had hurt me – but toward everyone. Instead of judgment toward others I began to experience compassion for their brokenness and need for Christ. I was no longer bitter…I was better!
Lord, thank You for Your Grace that set me free! Help me today to walk in Your life and love, living a life of compassion and mercy to all. Give me grace to forgive, obedience to bless, and boldness to lead the other 9 back to Jesus so that they too can be made whole! Thank you for your unspeakable love!
In Jesus Name!