I HAD JUST RECEIVED a scathing letter from a couple unhappy about a situation in the youth department. Their response was carnal; they certainly didn't understand the whole situation. I hadn't yet been able to meet with them.
When I stepped up to preach that Sunday morning, I felt ungracious and carried a grudge. During my introduction, I made some ad-lib quips that gave everyone a chuckle—everyone except the couple who had sent the letter. While the congregation held their sides in laughter, this couple sat stoically, second row, center section, arms folded, eyes staring through me.
By the time I finished the sermon (with no more humor), I felt physically sick and spiritually wasted. My unforgiveness was quickly growing into bitterness and resentment—the twin temptations of church conflict. Most pastors have preached that temptation isn't sin but that giving in to the temptation is. Yet, at least for me, it's a temptation hard to resist. The issue of forgiveness is a character issue, and ...1