Have you ever had someone say something to you that just set you off?  Something aimed at your heart?  Something that you knew was said in a spirit of anger or hate?  It happens.  Sometimes people say mean things.  And to be honest, sometimes we do too.

When someone says something to me like this, my immediate reaction is to get mad.  We really can’t help it.  It’s the way our brains works.

You have two parts of your brain—the limbic system; which runs totally off of emotions, and the neo-cortex; which runs off of logic.  Immediately after the hateful words come out of the other person’s mouth, our limbic system kicks in.  It takes about a 1/10th of a second–we’re mad.

But let me suggest that you stop and count to 10.  This actually triggers the neo-cortex, and logic will come into play.

I heard it said once, “It’s not the bite of the snake that kills; it’s the venom that’s left behind.”  Only we can hold on to that venom.  We sometimes choose it.  I’ve had several times in my life where I’ve held on to the venom for months—even years.  Looking back on these times, I realize that the other person probably didn’t think about it for more than a few minutes—a day at most!  But I have the capacity to dwell on it for what seems like forever. 

I have a friend who once did something to another friend that I thought was totally inappropriate.  I lost it.  I called this person up and read him the riot act.  I wouldn’t let him get a word in and in effect, our relationship ended for a number of years.  I was mad and wouldn’t let it go.

But here’s the strange part.  Over the years, it felt like God just kept bringing that situation back up in my mind.  And he kept pointing at me, not the other person, as to who really needed to take responsibility.  I kept arguing with him, justifying my position.  But in the end, I knew it was me who was suffering and who needed to take action.  You could say that the situation was cutting off a certain “flow” in my life.

So one day I called the man.  I didn’t want to, but I knew that I needed to.  He was very tentative when he first heard my voice on the phone.  I told him how I felt about the situation, that I still didn’t condone his behavior, but then I told him that I was not at all happy with my actions either.  I told him that it wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life.

And then I asked him to forgive me.

His response was quick and immediate.  He forgave me and then asked me to forgive him.

It was like someone unblocked a dam.  The poison flowed out of me and evaporated.  I literally felt joy stream back into my life.

Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

So look at this again – It’s not the bite of the snake that kills; it’s the venom that’s left behind.”  By asking for forgiveness, I had released the venom in my life and had opened the door for him to release his venom too.   The venom we hold can ruin our lives.  Don’t hold on to it.

Where in your life do you have venom?  Where are you holding a grudge?  Maybe its time to let it go.  Ask God to help you.

He will, and I’m sure He’ll be pleased!

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  1. Christopher Langley
    Christopher Langley09-14-2011

    I don’t know how you do it, Robert but your timing is uncanny. Thanks.

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