A couple weeks ago at Cub Scouts one of the little boys was singing a Christmas song. His leader put a stop to his song by saying it is not Christmas, to which the little boy replied with the question, “Why?”
I say indeed, why is it not Christmas? However, even though it is not Christmas time, that fact does not mean we cannot learn from Christmas or, (at least at my house and not Scout meetings) sing Christmas songs! Anyway, a few weeks back the sermon at church was about bitter versus broken, and I though of the Grinch.
Dr. Seuss’ character gives us a vivid picture of someone choosing to live in bitterness for fifty-three years. Every year the Grinch would harden his heart against the “Whos,” (the inhabitants of the town just down the mountain from him) more and more until his heart had all but shriveled away. I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of meeting someone in real life who has done this sort of thing, but I have and it is very sad.
Unfortunately, a lot of us can carry some degree of bitterness around without even fully realizing it. Maybe it seems like just a little thing. That coworker you resent because they were promoted instead of you, but of course you are always polite to them. Maybe it is the slight from a family member that has hung around in your heart for years: you smile at the family get-togethers, but it still hurts underneath. Bitterness does not always shout from the mountain top the way the Grinch shouts in the story.
We all experience hurts in life. The question is whether we are going to remain bitter about it or allow the brokenness to soften our hearts and allow Jesus, the healer, to come in and mend the broken places. Bitterness says, “No thank you,” to healing. Brokenness acknowledges the hurt and pain and humbly receives the healing. Bitterness is usually out for revenge of some kind, like the Grinch determined to hurt the Whos as much as he thought they had hurt him. Brokenness is more honest and can cause us to see the blind spots in our own lives and seek forgiveness.
The good news for the Grinch as well as us, is that bitterness does not have to be permanent. Even if you have lived with something for fifty-three years, (or longer) this can be the day to let it go. This could be the day when forgiveness can flood into your heart and allow it to expand. When the Grinch finally experienced forgiveness his heart grew three sizes!
At the end of the story the Grinch and the Whos all join hands and sing. The Grinch not fully knowing the words or the melody yet, but still singing his newly-expanded, forgiven heart out. When we find the forgiveness that Jesus has for us, for everything in our lives, we can’t help but sing–even if it is Christmas songs in March!
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26