Archbishop Dr Alick Banda says resentment and hatred are moral cancers that eat away at the enthusiasm to do good and to move on with life.
In an Advent message entitled ‘A call to repentance, change of heart and renewed way of life’, Archbishop Banda says the advent season this year comes at a time when the country is awake to a serious climate condition which threatens the common home and indeed food security; the unending political rivalry that appear to be cashing in to divide society on tenets that seem not to favour harmony and unity but ferment anger, chaos and disorderly behaviour.
When it comes to human emotions, you may be wondering to yourself ‘what is resentment?’ The definition is bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly. It is also known as bitterness, and is the basic foundation of hatred. It involves disgust, sadness, and surprise in the sense of the perception of injustice. It additionally combines the feelings of fear, anger, and disappointment. The feeling can be caused by several different situations, however, they all involve a sense of injustice or wrongdoing from an individual. For example, public humiliation, constant discrimination or prejudice, being taken advantage of, feeling unrecognised, envy and jealousy can all result in resentment.
Perhaps someone said mean, hurtful things, acted thoughtlessly, or did not do enough in terms of what the resentful individual feels should have happened. Those who experience this constantly replay thoughts and feelings that are related to the unjust event, and often refuse to forgive and move on. Holding on to the negative emotions is harmful to your emotional health and can impact your quality of life. In the words of Malachy McCourt, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Resentment thrives on negative feelings and grows more powerful when we are unwilling to forgive and release emotional pain. These negative feelings are felt through a disruption of the body’s energy and can manifest in physical pain and disease. To overcome these negative thoughts, the body’s energy must be restored.
When you are offended or disappointed by others and allow the hurt to germinate in your heart, bitterness and resentment will take root. Characterised by an unforgiving spirit and generally negative, critical attitudes, bitterness and resentment are sinful and self-defeating. They will colour your conscious and unconscious thoughts and actions. Allowed to fester, they will destroy and kill (Galatians 5:19-21). However, they can be dispelled with love.
The scripture says: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14,15).
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
“Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34).
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14,15).
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14-21).
Like depression and other emotional stress, bitterness and resentment can aggravate or cause physical problems such as arthritis. You can be affected mentally, spiritually, and otherwise. Your relationships will always suffer.
It is an oppressive and destructive emotion having its root in hate, which is likened to murder. No one can have peace and happiness with such emotions tearing at him.