I think I was a kid the last time I saw a three-legged race - it was at a Sunday School picnic. I resurrected the three-legged race a while back to illustrate a point to a group of teenagers. In case you've missed the thrill of a three-legged race, here's how it works. The racers run in teams of two. You tie the left leg of one to the right leg of the other, and they run the course as best they can like that. Run might be a slight exaggeration. They skip, they shuffle, they stagger, they limp - but run? Not really. It's really hard to run when you're tied to someone else who's slowing you down!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I'd like to have A Word With You today about "Cutting the Cord That Slows You Down."
You might actually be trying to run sort of a three-legged race yourself - tied to someone who's slowing you down. You might be surprised at who the person is - someone who has really hurt you. Why are you tied to them - because they've hurt you? No - because you haven't forgiven them.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews 12:15. "See to it that no one misses the grace of God." That's a frightening thought. "And that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." The issue here - bitterness - hard feelings toward someone. Our bitter feelings are usually directed at someone who's hurt us. For you, that might be someone who's betrayed you, or attacked you, abandoned you, or possibly abused you. The fact is that the hurt of our lives usually has a face and a name, doesn't it? And so does our grudge, our bitterness, and our unforgiveness.
God says here that it isn't the person who hurt us that really gets hurt by our bitterness - it hurts us and innocent people around us. As that anger inside us grows, it starts to spill over and poison other people who had nothing to do with the hurt. They just get wounded by the fallout of what is simmering inside us.
Bitterness costs us what we need most to help heal the pain - God's grace. His grace just cannot live where bitterness lives. One of them has to go.
The ironic thing about not forgiving someone is that our grudge actually ties us to them emotionally. We think about them a lot; they are a main character in what replays in our mind all the time. The very person you don't want to be tied to you are tied to by your bitterness toward them. That's why you haven't been able to run emotionally.
There's only one way to cut the rope that ties you to a person who hurt you - forgive them. You might say, "After what they did, it's hard to forgive them." Yes - but not as hard as not forgiving them. You say, "There's no way they deserve to be forgiven." This isn't about deserving. Colossians 3:13 says, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Forgiving is a decision - not a feeling - but a decision to treat that person, not as they treated you, but as Jesus treated you. Which has been to forgive you for all you've done to hurt Him - even though there's no way any of us deserve that forgiveness.
When you forgive, you are deciding to take off your judge's robe and let God be the one who takes care of the person who hurt you. His justice will be far superior to any "getting even" you could ever do.
At the end of our three-legged race, I cut the rope that tied those runners together. And, man, you could tell it felt really good to be free. That's what Jesus wants to do for you - if you will ask Him for the forgiveness you don't have so you can release that person who hurt you. Finally, you'll be able to run again. Finally, you will be free.