We’ve all had the experience of leaving the house, only to ask in dismay an hour later, “Did I turn the stove off?” We’re keenly aware of the danger of leaving a stove on, a fireplace or even a candle burning unattended. We may be less aware of the danger of leaving our emotional stoves burning.
Anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness—these can scorch and scar us if they’re left burning too long. Yet sometimes that’s exactly what happens. Someone may have offended us, abused or betrayed us in the past. Unforgiven, this pain can feel as searing today as when the incident originally happened. In such cases, we’ve left a stove burning in the soul, and the result can be great damage to ourselves. The book of Proverbs wisely asks, “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?”1
If we feel angry and resentful for what seems like no good reason, it may be time to “turn the stove off.” We can do this in several ways: by talking with those who offended us; by writing in our journal, stating the original problem and then going on record as forgiving it; by doing a deliberate kindness to the one we resent; and certainly by fervent prayer, requesting the grace of forgiveness. However we do it, after old fires are extinguished, there’s cooling relief and greater happiness.
1. Proverbs 6:27.