There’s something in your life you may not even realize is there: a largely invisible, often seemingly innocuous, ever present threat to your soul.
That may spark any number of responses. “You’d better believe I’m resentful – and with good reason.” Or, “Sure I struggle with some bitterness, but nothing unmanageable.” Perhaps even, “I honestly don’t think I have any resentment in my life right now.”
In the words of the great poet of old (Ice Cube): “You’d better check yourself… before you wreck yourself.”
I think we tend to view resentment as a growth that’s removed via one-time spiritual surgery – like a wart or tumor or mole. Burn/freeze/slice it off and it’s gone forever. But I’ve come to believe it’s actually something that’s always in danger of growing back – like film on our teeth or stubble on our faces in the mornings.
Who or what we’re resentful about may change. Individual offenses may even completely clear up. But if allowed, resentment itself will quickly find a new reason to reappear.
Paul in the Bible knew about this. Resentment threatened to form on the teeth of his heart and grow on the face of his soul just like it does on ours – even after he became a follower of Jesus. For instance, Paul had a colleague and friend named Demas. Demas was important enough to Paul to be mentioned more than once in the scriptures:
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers (Philemon 23,24).
Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas (Colossians 4:14).
Seems Paul and Demas were pretty tight. Co-workers in a passion that loomed larger than either of them: advancing the message of Jesus. Then something went wrong.
Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life (2 Timothy 4:10).
Paul woke up one morning with plaque on his teeth and a shadow on his face. He had a decision to make. He could pretend it didn’t bother him. He could retaliate. He could let himself become obsessed until his teeth rotted out of his head and a bitterness beard stretched to his belly button.
Instead, Demas’ betrayal became simply a single sentence in Paul’s story. He went on to trust other people, forgiving the ones who let him down, and didn’t mention Demas’ disloyalty again.
People are going to fail you. No matter how close we get to Jesus, every morning you and I spend on earth we will wake up to a film on our teeth or stubble on our face. We can be shocked by it, downplay it, brood over it, or pretend we don’t care.
Or we can brush our teeth. Shave our face. Even though we know we’ll have to do it again tomorrow.When you’re betrayed, in big ways and small, don’t pretend it’s no big deal. And don’t let it linger. Write that single sentence. Then move on with your story.