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Few years ago, I was invited to speak at a community college on, ?How to Build a Business Image and Tell the Public Your Culture.? After the first two hours of my day-long presentation, I noticed one of the female participants crying. I immediately asked the group to take a ten minutes break. I wanted to find out why this lady was crying.

I asked what was the matter and she told me her story. She had just separated from her African boyfriend and had planned to attend my presentation because my presence would remind her of her estranged friend. Her boss, who had previously heard my speeches, had insisted that she attend. Her boss had said my seminars help people live up to their personal and professional potential.

Now she was sobbing, and with tears flowing uncontrollably, she said, ?I would have missed so much. This presentation is just what I needed at this time. Thank you for coming, and forgive me for my prejudice.?

As I drove home I wondered how often we live in agony and below our potential because of bitterness. How often are we at spiritual, personal and professional standstill because of bitterness? We can not harbor bitterness and keep it concealed. The bitterness plant bears bitter fruits. Bitterness is sharp and tears down all facets of proper reasoning and emotional balance. Bitterness that is hidden inside an unforgiving soul can not be masked with a smile?it will eventually cut its way to the surface.

This monster, bitterness, is comparable to the water buffalo in an African Village. The buffalo invaded villages without warning, devastating social structures, uprooting the harmonious livelihood of villagers and leaving them feeling insecure and stressed out. The bitterness buffalo invades the lives of unsuspecting family members, spiritual associates and those different from us.

The bitterness carrier suffers the most. He becomes a victim of his unforgiving spirit. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus presents a character who would not forgive even though he had learned the joy of being forgiven. His fate was worse than that of his victim. The bottom line is, ?So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses? (Matthew 18:35). Nothing frees the soul like forgiving others even when they don?t ask for it!

Sometimes bitterness is carried from parents to children or from generation to generation. We see the fruits in the racial, religious, gender or cultural animosities people harbor for groups that are different from them. This ?bitterness buffalo? caused the Rwanda genocide and racial and religious tensions all over the world. It is a sin to have ill feeling toward others, and dumb to be bitter toward people who have done nothing directly to you.

Remember the message in Matthew was for God-loving people, not unbelievers. Bitterness confines Christians to insisting on being right, offended or hurt, thus we feel we have the license to relegate others from our lives. Christ didn?t keep those who offended Him out of His life. We can?t minister to empty space. Forgiving others is the most effective Gospel one can ever share, even with those who are in the wrong.

Paul in Ephesians 4:31-32 says, ?Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all mallice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ?s sake hath forgiven you.?

Christ had a right to be bitter, but He wasn?t. Slay the buffalo of bitterness and free your soul, body and mind from its outbursts.

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