DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: My aunt is a very bitter person, and to be honest I can understand why, since she’s had some real disappointments. She claims to be a Christian, but I’m not sure if she really is. Aren’t Christians supposed to be kind and forgiving? — M.M.
DEAR M.M.: Yes, Christians are supposed to be kind and forgiving toward others, just as Christ is toward us. And we will be, when we give up trying to change our lives by our own strength and allow Christ to change us. The Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Does this mean your aunt’s faith isn’t genuine? Not necessarily; only God knows her heart, and it’s not up to you to judge her. But Christians aren’t perfect, and Satan will do everything he can to turn us away from Christ. We may not even realize it’s happening until it’s too late. The Bible calls him “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
One of the devil’s chief tricks is to turn our emotions away from God, twisting them instead into anger or jealousy or greed or bitterness. They become like a poison, eating away at our souls and pulling us farther and farther from Christ. The Bible warns, “See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).
Pray for your aunt, that God will convict her of her bitterness, and replace it with his love and forgiveness. Pray, too, that you will be an example to her of Christ’s love and compassion. And pray, as well, that God will give you an opportunity to speak candidly (and yet gently) with her about her need for Christ’s healing touch on her heart.
© Tribune Media Services 5/17