Let it Go! (or It Might Get Bloody)
Recently a friend shared a remarkable story that delivered an insightful lesson. It was told to him by his friend. Let’s call the original storyteller “Jay.”
One day while enjoying the great outdoors, Jay witnessed an eagle as it quickly swooped down then immediately rose into the sky with an unsuspecting prey in its talons. Suddenly, the eagle fell from the sky, thrashing about as it sped toward the ground. Curious about what he had seen, Jay hiked to the spot where the eagle had landed.
Coming upon the scene, he discovered the dead eagle with its chest ripped open. Locked in its talons was a weasel that had decided to fight back. With fierce aggression and razor-sharp teeth, the weasel attacked its captor. (Weasels can be ferocious little predators in their own right).[i] Both fell to their bloody death.
In commenting about the scene, Jay said, “Stupid eagle. Why didn’t it just let go of the weasel?” In response to Jay’s accounting of the strange scene, my friend commented bluntly, “Jay, you are the eagle.” Jay had been struggling for many months with bitterness over a family break-up. The story served as a riveting reminder of the foolishness of holding on to disappointment, conflict, and anger.
The message of the gospel brings powerful emancipating truth to any soul that is clinging to the destructive downward spin and sin of bitterness. Far too many of our relationships are convoluted by conflict, poisoned by past hurts, and ruined by unresolved regret. When we hold on to these dangerous emotions we choose an existence and outcome that is debilitating and destructive.
In John 8:31–38, Jesus spoke these powerful words: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . .Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Anger and bitterness are control mechanisms that eventually control us. They are false means of feeling we have the upper hand on someone who has hurt or wronged us. We hold tightly to our festering resentment, thinking it will satisfy. Yet, in doing so we become enslaved to a dangerous companion. “Releasing the weasel” is the path of freedom and true spiritual fulfillment.
One writer clarified, ”Withholding forgiveness can make us feel good, even righteous, for a time. But inevitably, even our sense of righteousness transforms into a deep-rooted bitterness that has a toxic effect on our hearts, our souls and our relationships.”[ii]
The familiar reminders hold true: Forgiveness does not make the other person right; it just makes us free. Bitterness is the poison we drink thinking it will kill the other person. Yet, the Bible is clear. The root of bitterness is defiling and destructive. “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (12:14-15). This root that causes bitterness may be festering anger, unbelief, or even stubbornness of heart. The result is the same: personal and relational ruin.
The familiar reminders hold true: Forgiveness does not make the other person right; it just makes us free. Bitterness is the poison we drink thinking it will kill the other person. Yet, the Bible is clear. The root of bitterness is defiling and destructive.
When we come to know the truth and forgiveness of Christ, His promised and prevailing peace becomes the greater and glorious reality of our hearts and relationships. Isaiah 9:6 foretold the Messiah with the title, “Prince of Peace.” The peace and goodwill that has come in Christ is the pursuit of a true follower. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Notice the link between peaceable relationships and true holiness.
When we come to know the truth and forgiveness of Christ, His promised and prevailing peace becomes the greater and glorious reality of our hearts and relationships.
These biblical reminders help us embrace a godly response to relational disappointment. These choices can glorify God and bring us into a full experience of Christ’s peace:
- Because we have been “justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
- Our hearts should not be troubled because Jesus gives us a peace far beyond what the world can offer (John 14:27).
- Through Christ, we have been reconciled to God and are now the “righteousness of God” – messengers through whom He is reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
- We have the indwelling Spirit, whose character is “peace, patience, kindness” (Galatians 5:16), and know that to be “spiritually minded is life and peace” (Roman 8:6).
- We know that “God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
- We can “let the peace of God rule” in our hearts, resulting in unity and gratitude in our relationships (Colossians 3:15).
- We know that the evidence of wisdom and right living is “sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18).
- We remember that, in his letters, Paul blessed the church with “grace and peace” so often because we desperately need it and the Lord generously gives it.
In his letters, Paul blessed the church with “grace and peace” so often because we desperately need it and the Lord generously gives it.
Look and Let Go
Rather than fixating on the failure of others and wallowing in our unsanctified pain, we need to look to Jesus, who experienced betrayal and heartache beyond any other human experience. Yet through the pain and humiliation of the cross He resolved, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The gracious and free Christian embraces the wisdom that says, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We have the power to “release the weasel” when we gaze upon the glory of the Word that became flesh, the “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He was full of the grace that forgives so that we might be recipients and participants of this same grace as we relate to others. He was full of the truth that sets us free that we might walk in the truth and be free indeed.
He was full of the grace that forgives so that we might be recipients and participants of this same grace as we relate to others. He was full of the truth that sets us free that we might walk in the truth and be free indeed.
Because of our vision of Christ, and the power of His Spirit in us, we can “put away” all “bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking” and can instead “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
I still remember the words of the old hymn so vividly: “Look and live, my brother, live. Look to Jesus now, and live; ’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah! It is only that you look and live.” So, I admonish you today. Look to Jesus, let go of the weasel . . . and live!
If you enjoyed this devotional we think you will especially benefit from our book, The Prayer God Loves to Answer: Accessing Christ’s Wisdom for Your Deepest Needs. This book is a thorough exposition and practical application of James 3:17-18, where we find the relational power of the “wisdom from above” that is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” The book includes group study questions and each chapter ends with a guide for Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based prayer. It is a great resource for your personal relationships, your small group, and even your church. Check it out HERE!
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