My granddad was an angry and bitter man.
During the summer as a little boy, I visited him and my grandma on their farm in Virginia. Granddad was a big man. I remember how frightened I was when I saw him slap Mammy, his petite wife, for doing the smallest thing he didn’t like. I’d never seen a man hit a woman.
I asked my dad why granddad was so mean. He explained that Granddad’s father had beaten him with a razor strap when he was a child. He said Granddad never got over it. It was during the same talk that Dad told me Granddad also used to beat him with a razor strap. I felt so sorry for my dad when he showed me his scars.
My dad became a follower of Jesus and broke the chain. He was a calm and gentle man. He hugged me and told me that I had no need to worry. He would never hurt me like Granddad hurt him. He never did. Even when I did something wrong, my punishment was never harsh and was always accompanied by a heartfelt talk. I knew Dad corrected me out of love.
Throughout my ministry, I saw many families where a bitter, angry father poisoned the whole atmosphere of the family. Have you ever known such a family? Bitterness is infectious and often generational. It never stops unless someone breaks the chain.
How can you break the anger-bitterness chain? The only sure way I’ve seen is through Jesus. When someone invites him into their lives and has a close relationship with him, the chain is broken.
We give grace, not anger, only when we personally experience grace. When Jesus was dying on the cross with blood dripping from his entire body, he did not say, “I hate them. I’ll get back at them.” No. He said, “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they’re doing.”
During this holy season that leads to our celebration of our Lord’s crucifixion, will you break the chain of your cultural, social, and maybe even, family history? Let Jesus turn your bitterness into forgiveness, and your anger into grace.
“Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace. Make sure that no root of bitterness grows up that might cause trouble and pollute many people.” Hebrews 12:15 CEB