The Spanish called it the Isle of the Pelicans, but few people know it by that name. Some nicknamed it, "The Rock."
From 1933-1963, it served as the site of a nearly inescapable federal penitentiary. The guards were armed with machine guns and could not be bribed. Double locked doors enclosed each corridor and the cold waters of the ocean surrounded the island.
During those thirty years, thirty-four prisoners tried to escape in fourteen separate attempts; of those twenty-three were caught, six were shot and killed and five are missing and presumed drowned. Al Capone, "Machine Gun" Kelly, Robert "The Birdman" Stroud all served time on Alcatraz. Today, the island has become a tourist attraction but most people admit that it is not a very attractive place.
But there is a prison that is far worse than Alcatraz; it is the prison of unforgiveness. Jesus talked about a prison that shackles the inner soul. When forgiveness is not offered it leads to that prison every time. You become incarcerated in a prison of unforgiveness and it fills your days with: bitterness, hatred, anger, resentment and hostility.
Bitterness will lock you up and throw away the key.
Bitterness has destroyed many churches!
Bitterness holds back the power of God.
The church today is plagued with unforgiveness and bitterness. There are churches that can’t move forward because of "Bitter Brothers", "Sour Sisters" and "Caustic Christians". Bitter people sit on the pews with their arms folded singing, “I shall not be moved!”
Something has happened to a bitter person; life has not worked out as they thought that it would work out. Someone has hurt them; they may even blame God and they are bitter toward God. When someone is hurt and they don’t deal with it in the right way; bitterness will take root in their heart. They will begin to dwell on it and mull it over and over again; they feel absolutely justified in their bitterness.
Sometimes the hurt may have been intentional because there are some very mean people in the world and even in the church.
Sometimes, the hurt is unintentional; they didn’t mean to hurt you and may not even know that they hurt you.
Sometimes the hurt may be the chastisement of God; the writer of Hebrews says, “When chastisement comes, don’t be bitter." Don't allow your circumstances to change you from being a "Naomi", who is pleasant to a "Mara" who is bitter.
Everyone has experienced hurt at sometime in their lives but if forgiveness is not extended then bitterness will take root and lock the door to your prison. Hurt is usually followed by anger and then revenge. The grace of God comes upon a sanctified believer and they get over it; but a bitter person doesn’t get over it!
Bitterness and unforgiveness is always sin! If you spit in my face, you have sinned but if I become bitter about it, then I have sinned. If you injure me by false witness; you have sinned. But if I become bitter about it, then I have sinned. We can’t control what happens in life, but we can control how we respond and react to it!
A woman put an ad in the paper that read: “Wedding dress for sale or will trade for a 38 revolver!”
She had plans to deal with her hurt in the wrong way.
The right way to deal with hurt is FORGIVENESS! Forgiveness will keep you out of the worst prison!