Emotional Filter

Your Emotional Filter – or “How You Fool Yourself”

Your emotional state affects how you remember and understand things.

Your emotions filter information and activate one set of memories or impressions over another.

It is therefore important to understand what is going on and to take charge of your emotions, rather than letting them rule you and fool you.

Three Settings

In simple terms our feelings tend to sit in one of three positions.  Most people are most often emotionally neutral, just getting on with life as it comes along.  On some occasions, though, we can feel very happy and upbeat about life.  These feelings might be prompted by being successful at something, or experiencing some emotionally uplifting experience.

On other occasions, though, we can feel quite down and even depressed.  These feelings might be prompted by an experience of failure or some emotionally challenging experience.

Psychologists use the term Mania for our positive emotional state and Depression for our negative emotional state.  Some people fluctuate between their highs and lows so disruptively they are diagnosed as Manic-Depressive, or Bi-polar as it is commonly labelled today.

In our normal frame of mind, not manic and not depressive, we take things as they come.  We do not have any particular emotional magnet messing with our interpretation of the information coming to us.

If in that state we were to think back on our life we would have access to all kinds of memories, good and bad, happy and sad.

If we are in a manic, upbeat or positive frame of mind our emotional filter tends to focus on and remember times when we felt this way before.  The positive feelings build on the positive feelings and we can have quite a strong sense of wellbeing, security and happiness and even a sense of invincibility, feeling confident that everything is going to go our way.

Conversely, if we are in a depressive frame of mind our emotional filter will tend to focus on and remember times when we felt depressed before.  The downcast feelings build on similar feelings and we can have quite a strong sense of depression, failure and fear of the future and even a feeling of hopelessness, as if whatever we do is going to turn out badly.

Our emotional filter is not actually a bad thing.  It’s just something we need to understand and manage appropriately.  If you are not aware of it you may end up letting it fool you into wrong thinking.

Changing Emotions

Jesus Christ talked about the ability of our emotions to completely change our memories, when he spoke of a woman giving birth.

“A woman has sorrow when giving birth, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she forgets the anguish for joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21

During the difficult times of a pregnancy a woman may have an emotional low and swear that she will never put herself through all of this ever again.  But after the baby is born a different set of emotions kick in and she might feel much more positive about having more children.  Her feelings of despair and discomfort are replaced by feelings of joy and delight.

Such a shift in perspective doesn’t mean she is mad, it is typical of how all of us function under the influence of our emotional filter.

Long before Jesus Christ wise King Solomon recorded the instruction of his mother about giving strong drink to those who need to forget their troubles.

“Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those with heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” Proverbs 31:6,7


We all know that certain foods, drinks and experiences modify our emotional state.  We use these various things to ‘self-medicate’ – to make ourselves feel good.  We can self-medicate with the first cup of coffee in the morning, a home-cooked meal, talking to a friend, listening to our favourite music, indulging in a sweet or retail-therapy. These are all ways we help ourselves feel better if we are not at our best.

I once read that cults had learned to use junk food to modify the moods of their victims.  One group would recruit young people and use them as slave labour doing such things as begging for money in car parks.  Frantic parents would track down their child and get court orders to allow them to meet their child.  Shortly before the meeting the young person would be fed up on junk food which filled their half-starved body with enough sugar and stuff to give them a high.

Under that chemical inducement the young person would feel elated and could only remember all the good things about their time with the so called “friends”.

So, we each have an emotional filter and we are each affected by it in various ways.  We also have the ability to affect it, but it too can dominate the way we think and feel about things.

Crazy Contradictions

The operation of our emotional filter can be seen in those situations where people say completely contradictory things from day or day, or even from moment to moment.

If a person does not have control over their emotions they can display quite alarming swings in their moods, and with the mood swing comes a complete rewriting of their history and perceptions.

When someone feels happy with a loved one, such as spouse, sibling, parent or child, that emotional state triggers memories of all the times they have enjoyed that relationship.  Induced by such memories and feelings they might say something like, “You are wonderful! You make me SO happy!”

However if they then feel offended by that same person their emotions can switch to the opposite setting and suddenly they not only feel negative about that person, but somehow they can now remember many times when they have felt the same negative way.  This time they might say something like, “You have always been SO hurtful! I’ve never really liked you. I wish I never knew you!”

On both occasions the person can speak quite sincerely.  For that moment all the thoughts, memories and feelings they have access to match what they are saying.

Quite often in such an upset the emotions settle down and the person feels apologetic for their excessive outburst.  They may then say something like, “I didn’t really mean what I said when I was attacking you.”

Once again the person is speaking sincerely.  They now review what they said and they don’t have access to all the dominating emotions and memories that fed their negative feelings.  They now have a more reasonable view of things and they try to patch up the relationship.

Clearly it is dangerous to be so out of control emotionally.  Not only will we be pushed like a boat in the wind, but others around us will be hurt and confused by our changeableness.

Rule Your Own Spirit

We each need to have rule over our own spirit, controlling our emotions, managing our emotional filter so it doesn’t fool us and make a mess our perceptions.

Step One – Realise you have an emotional filter that can fool you into believing things that are not true, because they are skewed, either positively or negatively.

Step Two – Recognise your predisposition, toward unrealistic upbeat feelings, or unrealistic negative feelings, or even to switching from one to the other erratically.

Step Three – Ask God to help you get “rule over your own spirit” so you don’t get pushed around by your emotions or the skewed sense of reality from your emotional filter.

Step Four – Get your friends and loved ones to function as a reality filter for you.  Find people who are balanced (not overly optimistic or overly negative or critical) and get them to check your ideas with you.

Step Five – Wise up about life and reality.  A good way to do that is to read the Bible and learn Christ’s principles for living.  They will be an anchor for your life and give you a reference point to test whether you are out of balance or not.

Scorn – Hidden Source of Contention

Over this past year or so several words have taken on new significance in my understanding.  Recently the word “scorn” took my attention and I am surprised how significant this topic may be in daily life.  So let me unpack it a little for you.

The key verse that brought ‘scorn’ into focus for me is Proverbs 22:10…

“Cast out the scorner, and contention will exit; yes, strife and reproach will cease.”

Here I saw a key link between scorn and ‘contention’.

Many homes live under the weight of contention so scorn could prove to be very relevant.

Previously I linked contention with pride, because of Proverbs 13:10…

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

Scorn is another piece of the contention puzzle.

Contention is linked to scorners and also to pride.  So scorn must be an expression of pride.

Scorn includes contempt, disrespect, disapproval, criticism, dislike, derision, indignation and disdain.

The link to pride probably sits with the scorner feeling a sense of elevation or superiority over the one scorned (that’s pride) so they judge the failings or poor qualities of the one scorned.

So scorn blocks forgiveness, because the scorner is not looking to act humbly or in good faith, but to serve their pride.

The scorner takes a place of pride and superiority over the one who is scorned so they do not adopt a posture of grace and forgiveness.

If there is contention in your home or your relationships you can be sure there is pride and scorn.

Many years ago my marriage was under great strain.  I had offended Susan by my persistence to achieve a goal, without seeming to care for her struggles in the process.  For many months our relationship was strained and I found Susan difficult to relate to.  All that time she struggled with feelings of offence, knowing her attitude was not right but not able to break free from it.

Late one night we were finally able to talk about the tensions and Susan poured out her string of hurts and feelings of offence caused by my actions.

All I could do was admit that I had burt her and ask her forgiveness.  Then the way forward was in her hands, not mine.  I said to her, “You know what you have to do.”  We were well aware of the need to forgive offenders in order to come to freedom ourselves.

Susan said she already knew she had to forgive me.  She was struggling to do so.

When she got to it, Susan’s forgiveness took only a few moments to say but it changed the atmosphere completely and set our relationship free to blossom again.  The impact was profound, even though the forgiveness process was almost momentary.

Think about your situation.

Is there contention, strife or reproach in your relationships?

Does the contention and strife settle down when someone else leaves the room, or when YOU leave the room?  Who is the ‘scorner’ in your situation?

Do you face contention and strife in many of your relationships?

Are you sitting in judgement of others, elevating yourself in pride, thinking you have the right to hold them in contempt, disapproval and indignation?

If you take the place of ‘judge’ over others God will judge you severely and one of the judgments is that God cuts you off from the benefit due to you through those you despise, which could even be your spouse and family.

And consider another verse about ‘scorn’, the very first verse of the Book of Psalms.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

The ungodly walk, sinner stand, and scorners sit.  Scorners make themselves comfortable in their place of scorn, pride and judgement of others.  They probably affirm their right to stay in that seat of judgement through all manner of justifications and fault-finding.

If you are a scorner you are probably very inflexible and slow to come around to grace and forgiveness.

If this touches you in some way then please take a lesson from my lovely wife and get out of that seat of scorn into the wonderful freedom that grace and forgiveness pour down upon us.

Resentment Revisited 2

This is the second part of an article exposing our human tendency to withhold forgiveness and to allow resentment, bitterness and anger to rule our hearts. (see below for links to the first 2 articles on Resentment: Resolving Resentment and Resentment Revisited)

Our human heart objects to forgiving others and relies on several tricks to excuse its unforgiveness.  One trick is to give partial forgiveness and then stop forgiving, as if you now have a right to be hard hearted, because you have already shown grace.

We saw that resentments come from our unresolved issues of the past, where withholding forgiveness makes issues out of those things we hold onto.  Now let’s look at another source of resentments.

The Way I Want It

Another source of resentments is our selfish desire to have things our way.  We all want to be loved, valued and appreciated, and we all want to have an easy life if we can get it.

Once we have determined the way we want things to be we can easily fall into resentment of those who upset our plans, block fulfilment of our will and so on.

If we don’t get the attention we want from family, spouse or friends we can become resentful.

If our spouse and family continually frustrate our hopes and dreams we can become resentful.

If our personal capacities let us down we can resent ourself and even resent God for making us with such limitations.

If you want peace and quiet you will resent those who take it from you.  If you want lots of intimacy, you will resent the spouse that is not interested.  If you want to live in a big house you will resent those that obstruct that objective.  If you want to be the centre of attention you will resent those you must compete with and those who don’t value you as much as you want.

“We weren’t supposed to start a family so quickly.”  “I wasn’t counting on your health being such a problem.”  “I didn’t expect your family to be so interfering.”  “Why don’t people just leave me in peace?”  “I really thought you were going to make something of yourself.”  “I never expected you to be so much like your mum.”  “I thought I could trust you to make wise decisions but you just keep messing things up.”

How do you like things to be?  Do your spouse and family frustrate your hopes and dreams?  Have you forgiven them yet or are you carrying resentment toward them?

It Is Not Fair

Justice issues are another interesting area of resentment.  Are you intolerant of injustice?  Such intolerance appears to be very noble, but you may actually be a slave to bitterness.

I have seen people get on their high horse, as the expression has it, and go charging into a situation in defence of justice.  They are incensed by something they will not let pass: someone wrongly judged; someone not sharing properly; selfishness displayed; or whatever.  The justice champion cannot but dive into the situation and berate the offender.

A common expression of this motivation is the “It’s not fair!” claim so readily heard from the mouth of children.  What they are really saying is, “I’m offended by that”.

A wise parent teaches a child that life is not fair and that each of us must respond to our situations with godly character, grace and faith.  In the absence of such wisdom children learn to fight about the matter of fairness and become demanding, intolerant, hyper-sensitive and so on.

Don’t be fooled by your noble and righteous indignation at those who are selfish, arrogant, loud, exploitative, thoughtless or whatever.  I dare suggest that your reactions are evidence of issues you have not resolved, rather than a divine calling to right the wrongs on earth.

Cleaning the Garage

As I visited friends a few weeks ago I saw their neighbour trying to clean out her garage.  The mother of the family directed the exercise and her tone and demands clearly indicated that she was driving the project and had little trust in getting the help she needed voluntarily.

She shouted like a sergeant-major and found fault with the efforts of her husband and teenage son.  Within half an hour the husband drove off at high speed, revving his motor in what seemed to be a show of machismo, as if to say he is a real man and not really dominated by his wife.  The husband did not return until the whole ordeal was well over.  Several hours later the woman was still scolding the children helping her.  She was on a crusade and it sounded like a dreaded ordeal for all involved.

She probably had very good reasons to act as she did.  Her husband probably lets her down repeatedly.  Her children probably resent being recruited into her projects and subjected to her ugly attitude and tone.  It is probably a toxic experience for everyone.

And that’s consistent with the warning in Hebrews.  If you allow a root of bitterness to grow inside you then many people will be defiled (Hebrews 12:15 ).  In fact, the whole process gets poisoned.

And in such a case it is probably impossible to imagine handling the situation differently, without any resentment, but with plenty of grace.

Resentment Free

If all resentment was removed and thorough forgiveness given then there would be no hurt, disappointment, frustration, shame or similar negatives in the way of getting the job done.

In such a case a happy discussion and negotiation could be explored to see how best to achieve the objective.  Where disagreement exists then godly wisdom can be applied to come to a gracious agreement that does not grow a crop of bitterness.

Accusations and vilifications would not occur.  Despairing thoughts and emotional outbursts would not be part of the process.  Any ruffled feathers would be soon smoothed over by finding God’s grace and keeping that grace as the key quality of the whole exchange.

Manipulation would not be resorted to, nor taking command of the lives of others so as to squeeze from them the required obedience.

And I think to myself (to quote a line from a song), “What a wonderful world!

How Else

Many a frustrated person will protest by asking, “If I don’t get angry and let people know how they let me down, how can I get them to do the right thing?”

I fully sympathise with the question, but please stop a moment and consider its implications.

The only mechanism you have developed in order to get things done to your satisfaction is an evil and toxic mechanism.  You are highly unqualified to lead any project at all if your skill set is limited to anger and abuse.  Rather than being a person of grace who can bless, train and lead others, you are so limited that your only powertool is toxic treatment of others.  You are actively sowing poison into others in order to get your will followed.

And who is to say your ideas of the “right thing” are correct?  If you have to contend with people to get them to fit in with your idea of what is right, then maybe you are the one who is out of order.

Why is YOUR way or YOUR priority, which others don’t seem to be supporting, the way that must be enforced?  What if you are trying to control and drive people to fulfil your agenda when God does not care as much for your agenda as you do?

Remember Martha telling Jesus to force Mary to do what Martha wanted, and Jesus saying that Martha had it wrong (see Luke 10:38-42).

Put Down that Knife

If you are a control freak, totally sold out to the offences that drive you, and determined to have your way, your justification, your vengeance or whatever else YOU think is vital, then you will have already gagged at what I am saying.  You will have your knives drawn to cut me down to size and let me know how justified you are in being angry, resentful, indignant, controlling and demanding, since you are standing on holy ground and everyone else is mired in irresponsibility, foolishness and self will.

But remember the words of Christ.  If you do not forgive you will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14).  If you demand that others pay their debt to you then God will deliver you into the hands of ‘tormentors’ (Matthew 18:34,35).  And the torment you display suggests you are already under God’s sentence of punishment.

Check out my article titled Resolving Resentment to see the Biblical basis for these claims.

You have abandoned God’s grace and the mental and emotional distress that now drives you to torment others is a stinking mess that YOU have made.  Others have not made it for you.

You desperately need to apply forgiveness to all those who incense you and who you feel so offended by.  If you do not then you are doomed to deeper misery than you currently have and you will burn off more and more of your family and friends.  You are TOXIC, despite your prideful belief that you are on God’s side.

Better Solutions

People are selfish and irresponsible.  Your spouse, family, friends and associates fit that description.  You will be let down and hurt by those people.  That’s an everyday part of life.

You will either resent life or you will bring God’s grace into it.  As you learn to forgive and extend grace to people who do not deserve it, just as you want God to extend His grace to you when you don’t deserve it, life will become a blessing and a joy, instead of a wrangle.

In order to resolve differences and difficulties you have with your spouse, family or friends, you are best to start with a clean heart and free spirit.  Resentment, anger, frustration, jealousy, wilfulness, prejudice, and the like are barriers to the better solutions you need.  Remove those barriers immediately by giving open hearted forgiveness to all those who offend you.

Then work with God and your spouse, family and friends to find a godly and blessed solution.

You may have to change your priorities, because they are unrealistic.  You may have to accept others for who they really are, not who you want them to be.  You may need to inspire others to see the merit of things you hold dear.  You may need to see the wisdom of their different way of doing things, and give up your limited concepts about how things and what things are to be done.

You Choose

There are only two options in dealing with the upsets of life.  You either find and give God’s grace to those who offend and fail you, or you become bitter toward them, a root of bitterness springs up in your life and you and many others become defiled.

If your relationships involve contention, argument, disappointment, resentment, wrangling, hardness of heart, or similar negative elements, then you have already made bad choices in the past and are living with the toxic results.

I don’t have to live your life or live with you.  If you want to go ahead and mangle your life then do so as much as you want.  But please don’t live in deception any longer.  You are not a noble agent of God, but a miserable, selfish and bitter person who has personally chosen to come under the power of evil and to damage all those around you.  If you choose to live in unforgiveness then you have everything you deserve.

If you are willing to humble yourself, let me encourage you with this wonderful news.  By you simply following God’s instructions, forgiving all who offend you, God’s grace and His heavenly blessings will be released into your life, no matter how desperately bad things are right now.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your offspring may live” Deuteronomy 30:19

The earlier articles on Resentment can be found by these links:
Resolving Resentment http://chrisfieldblog.com/2012/01/02/resolving-resentment
Resentment Revisited (part 1) http://chrisfieldblog.com/2012/09/12/resentment-revisited

Resentment Revisited

Resentment is probably the most prevalent disease in relationships and marriages today.

In my previous Resolving Resentment article (http://chrisfieldblog.com/2012/01/02/resolving-resentment) I showed how Forgiveness is the key to unlocking and removing the resentments that poison relationships.

I now revisit Resentment to help bring home its presence and to help people grapple with its impact in their heart and home.  This article is in 2 parts so after you have read this, look for Resentment Revisited 2 to complete the thoughts I want to share with you.

Resisting Forgiveness

Our human heart is totally selfish and proud.  It resists forgiveness and chooses resentment.  Resentment is really just a soft label for bitterness.  Bitterness is totally toxic and means we have refused to show God’s grace to those we are offended by or angry with.

Our determination to be bitter means we quickly develop a variety of Objections to Forgiveness.  And what is more we can even pride ourselves that we gave partial forgiveness and have put up with the other person better than others might.  At heart we can be real ‘stinkers’!

Limited Forgiveness

A common approach to forgiveness is to give Partial Forgiveness and to applaud ourselves for doing so.  At heart we are Objecting to forgiveness, and using Partial Forgiveness as a way out of forgiveness.

We see an example of this in Peter the Apostle.  Peter accepted Jesus’ teaching about the need to forgive, but in his heart Peter really wanted to take a hard stand against those who offended him.  Look at the historical record of the event, recorded for us by Matthew the Tax Collector.

“Then came Peter to him (Jesus), and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21,22

Peter thought that forgiving his brother SEVEN times was pretty good.  Imagine being offended by the same person the same way Seven Times!  That would be SO offensive.  Forgiving someone Seven times sounds pretty impressive under those circumstances.

Surely there has to be a limit to forgiveness.  If a husband continues to forget anniversaries, continues to drink too much, continues to embarrass his wife in public, continues to waste money, continues to ignore his wife’s advice, or continues any other offensive behaviour, then SURELY there must be a limit to any forgiveness.

And what about a wife who continues to ignore her husband’s wishes, continues to rubbish him to her friends, continues to nag him about his failings, continues to manipulate him, continues to frustrate his interest in intimacy, or continues any other offensive behaviour?  Surely there must be a limit to forgiveness in such cases.

Unlimited Forgiveness

Jesus responded to Peter’s question about limited forgiveness by saying there is no real limit to forgiveness.  We are to forgive and keep on forgiving.  What ever we think is our absolute limit needs to be multiplied ten times and then multiplied by the original number all over again.

If we offer ‘partial forgiveness’ then we have not truly forgiven.

And there is nothing to boast about that we have put up with this or that for so long or so many times.  There is no room for pride in our partial forgiveness.

What Really Happens

People normally put up with something that bothers them for a while, then decide they have a right to explode, react, get angry, resent the action and be bitter toward the offender.  People even see their short lived patience as a badge of honour and they usually broadcast the fact that they have been tolerant, as if that excuses their anger, resentment and final UNFORGIVENESS.

“I haven’t said anything for three days, but you just keep on doing what you are doing and so, ENOUGH is ENOUGH!”  “I’ve had a belly full of your behaviour and I’m not taking it any more.”  “This has gone TOO FAR!”  “I’ve been patient with you, and I haven’t said anything before, but I just have to tell you that I am angry with what you are doing.”  “You have no idea what you have put me through and how patient I have been!”

Despite all those high sounding self affirmations about how wonderful we have been putting up with the other person’s faults, what really happens is that we give in to Unforgiveness.  We choose to be Unforgiving and to then be angry, resentful, judgmental, condemning, etc.

Our pride justifies our anger and unforgiveness and we commend ourselves for having temporarily endured the offence, when in truth we have violated God’

Human Limits

Whether we actually ‘forgive’ or just try to tolerate the other person’s behaviour for a while we usually have pretty short limits.  Peter thought that forgiving SEVEN times was pretty impressive.

It could even be that Peter was proud of his incredible willingness to forgive an offender Seven times.  He had no hesitation in offering the idea to Jesus, as if it was a pretty good offer.

Our human hearts are evil and so we don’t want to act like God or Christ and to forgive.  That is why Christ warned us that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven, Matthew 6:15.  We are so prone to reacting badly to other people’s failures, while wanting to be excused from our own.

Resentment is Resentment

Whether you give in to resentment the instant you are offended, or whether you forgive someone seven times before you give in to resentment, Resentment is still Resentment.  Anger is still anger.  Bitterness is still bitterness.  Unforgiveness is till unforgiveness, even if you gave partial forgiveness for a while before you reverted to unforgiveness.

Your temporary tolerance, incredible patience and limited forgiveness don’t count for anything.  You have allowed a root of bitterness to spring up and to defile you and those around you (Hebrews 12:15).  Your heart reaction is wrong, and you failed to give God’s grace to someone who needs it.

What is more, you set yourself up as judge.  Despite God’s warnings that we are not to judge others (Matthew 7:1) a person who becomes angry and resentful has stood in judgement of someone.  In fact, they have set themselves up as “Judge, Jury and Executioner”!  They judge the person to be out of order, find them to be “guilty” and then prescribe the punishment.  The punishment is that the offender is subjected to the anger and resentment of the one standing in judgement.

Our choice to resent someone means we think we can stand in God’s place and lord ourselves over the other person.  And that’s pride.

Growing Your Resentments

Where do resentments come from?  Obviously they come from our decision to be angry and unforgiving toward those who offend us.

By that process, however, we each grow our own garden of resentments, based on our past decisions about the things we will resent.  Some people have a flourishing garden of resentments and live their lives in a perpetual state of reaction to people who offend them.

Since this is so very debilitating, as well as against God’s instruction to show grace to people and even to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43,44), we should have a closer look at how this process takes place in our lives.

People I Dislike

When we are offended by a person or a situation and allow resentment to spring up we easily become resentful of all people or situations that remind us of that original offence.

You will be familiar with the idea that, “I just can’t stand people like that!”  Whatever the “like that” is in your case, and whatever it is that you can’t stand, it represents a pet resentment you are growing in your life.

The problem for you is that you have been offended in the past and not given forgiveness to the one who offended or wronged you.

Guess what might be unresolved in your life if you say things like these.  “I can’t stand bossy people.”  “I can’t tolerate such injustice.”  “That look on someone’s face makes my blood boil.”  “I have absolutely no time for people like that.”  “Don’t raise your eyebrows at me when I’m talking to you!”  “You just think you’re SO superior, don’t you.”  “I’m not going to let that happen to me ever again.”  “I won’t have someone looking down at me.”
People have issues about being belittled, ignored, misunderstood, misrepresented, falsely accused, taken for granted, used and rejected.  Some people engage the rest of their lives trying to even some score, prove some point, vindicate themselves, right some wrong or otherwise react to some offence they have never forgiven.

Learned Intolerances

Every time we fail to show God’s grace to someone who wrongs us we become trapped in bitterness.  We are warned that the only alternative to giving grace is to have a “root of bitterness” spring up in our life (Hebrews 12:15).

We don’t like the word ‘bitterness’ so we use such terms as resentment, anger, frustration and intolerance, because those things sound reasonable, and can even be justified as a righteous response to someone else’s evil.

The examples can be quite obvious, like having a bossy older sister causing people to be intolerant of strong minded women.  At the same time we each have unique and personal opportunities to learn intolerance toward certain types of people or behaviour.  Our intolerance is really a sign of a root of bitterness inside us.

People despise the favoured child in their family, feeling wronged by not getting the same attention.  People despise the over confident person who always outperforms them.  People resent others who get privileges they did not get.  And on it goes.  Much of the energy behind feminism is fuelled by feelings of resentment toward males.

What are your intolerances?

Resolve It

Discovering your intolerances and uncovering your bitterness is not a game where you get to bring up how others have hurt you.  It is a vital challenge to your heart, calling you to whole-heartedly forgive those who have offended you in the past.

Don’t revisit your pain, but RESOLVE IT!

All the unfinished business in your heart needs to be removed by you forgiving every offender who ever wronged you.  Give up your unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and anger.  Despite what those people have done, your only hope of a better future is for you to forgive them.

If you do not forgive them you end up in the hands of spiritual tormentors, as Jesus warns in Matthew 18:34,35.  So the mess you are now in is not because of the way they treated you but because of your refusal to forgive them.

Stop blaming others for their faults when YOU are the worst enemy to your happiness and blessing.

Grow up and resolve your issues right now, by choosing to forgive people who don’t deserve to be forgiven, just as you want God to forgive you even though you don’t deserve it.

There is More

If you find these thoughts helpful then look out for the second part of this article on Resentment Revisited.  I have additional practical insights to share with you, so you can be free and so you can help others.

Look out for Resentment Revisited 2.

Passing the Family Blessing

The Bible reveals that fathers pass on blessings to their children, as we see with Isaac praying an irrevocable blessing onto his son Jacob (Genesis 27).

We also see fathers commissioning their sons, as David did to Jonathan in passing the Kingship to him (1Kings 2).

We also see fathers passing on wisdom to their children as Solomon did in Proverbs (Proverbs 1:8).

We see a family put under restraint by their ancestors, such as the Rechabites being put under limitation by the command of Jonadab and God honouring the faithfulness of that family in following the family standards (Jeremiah 35).

We also see that God oversees intergenerational transfer of various things through the family line, such as visiting the iniquities onto the descendants (Ex 20:5) and giving ownership of revelation to future generations (Deut 29:29). The children of the righteous are known to be blessed (Psalm 37:25) and the descendants of those chosen for special purpose walk in the family calling, such as the line of Levi and Aaron’s priestly family (Numbers 18:1).

It is important to note that individuals are able to transcend the family heritage, curses, limitations, etc.  We see this when God calls and blesses someone, such as David, for special purpose.  God did this when He called Abraham to be the father of a new nation of people.  New horizons open up when God enters our lives.

The Family Heritage and Blessing

The graces we receive through our family are listed here and numbered from 1 – 7, in two general categories, including those things conferred by God and those things conferred by our fathers.

Those things which are conferred upon us by God

1.  We receive the Adamic family curse of death by being born as one of Adam’s descendants.  God placed this curse upon Adam and all Adam’s descendants at the fall of man (Genesis 3, 1Corinthians 15:22).

2.  We receive the impact of the iniquities of our forbears and we receive any family curses transferred upon us, at the hand of God, Himself.  God warns that it is He who visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the descendents to three and four generations (Exodus 20:5).  Eli’s family line was cursed forever in punishment for Eli failing to discipline his children (1Samuel 3:13).

3.  We receive all the blessings and graces that rest on the family, including calling, anointing, responsibilities and grace, such as the descendants of Aaron have in their calling to be priests before God.

4.  We receive inheritance rights including those rights based on our place in the family.  The land and assets of the father becomes the birthright of the children, and the birthright of the firstborn son entitles him to a double portion of inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17).  This inheritance includes right to all revelation of God and God’s grace that has been provided to the former generations (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Resolving Negative Transfer

We can deal with the Adamic curse by faith in Jesus Christ causing us to be born again and be given resurrection after death.

We can deal with the family curses also through Christ, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), and through the grace of God, who turns our curses into blessings (Deuteronomy 23:5).

We can deal with the blessings and graces by claiming them and walking in them.

We can deal with our inheritance by determining to claim our birthright, and by not despising it and selling it off, as Esau did.

Those things conferred upon us by our fathers

5.  Fathers minister to the child his or her identity and acceptance in the family as an endorsed son or daughter.

The father of the prodigal endorsed the prodigal’s standing by declaring “this is my son” and by giving the returned prodigal the various tokens of sonship and authority in his home.  The older brother objected but it was in the father’s power to confer sonship status, blessing and grace on his son, and he chose to do so (see Luke 15).

We further see this paternal endorsement when the father declares “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).  This declaration is believed to be a cultural norm in ancient Israel, endorsing the son as being in equal partnership with the father, as an approved graduate of the father’s discipline and training regime and thus able to act with the father’s authority, as an equal in the family business.

We see that where a father fails to discipline his son something of the transfer of identity and authority is lost, as explained in Hebrews 12:5-8.  The son takes on the character of an illegitimate son if not properly corrected.  We see that King David’s failure to deal with the sins of his sons led to tragedy (2Samuel 13).

Thus a wise father will guide, instruct, discipline and affirm his sons, training them to work with him and to approve themselves as worthy of his full endorsement.

Note that a foolish son who rebelled against his parents was to be denounced and exposed by the parents and stoned, under Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

6.  Fathers set a standard for their children, which standard tests the child’s character and impacts the child’s destiny.

We see this when Jonadab the son of Rechab instructed his family line to live in tents and not to drink alcohol.  In the following generations the family continued to obey that family standard, even though Jonadab was long dead and his descendants may well have been of greater age and seniority than Jonadab was when he set that standard.  God commended the Rechabites for their faithfulness and pronounced a blessing on them (see Jeremiah 35).

A wise father is careful about the standards he sets and seeks God’s wisdom in raising his children.  Such training is referred to as the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), because, although the vehicle for the training is the father, the standards are set by the Lord, not the dad himself.

7.  Fathers pronounce blessings and curses on their children.

King Saul put a curse on any of his soldiers who ate before a battle was ended.  Saul’s son, Jonathan, did not hear about the curse and ate honey, causing a spiritual problem.  Saul’s rash curse created trouble for his family (1Samuel 14).

Similarly Jephthah made a rash promise to God, which led to the death of his only child (Judges 11).

Because children are under the care of their father, he having authority over them, his pronouncements upon them have force and need to be attended to.

If a father makes a rash promise, curse, commitment or other impediment impacting his children those children can come before God, as their Heavenly Father with greater authority than their natural father, and resolve the issues created by the father.

A wise father will seek to bless his children.

He will lead them to faith in Jesus Christ to resolve the Adamic curse of death.

He will resolve all curses and iniquities in the family line, standing in the gap for his family, so all curses are terminated and turned into blessings for his children.

He will release to his children all the family graces and blessings, raising the children to fulfil the destiny and special privileged positions falling to the family.

He will create a rich godly inheritance for his children.

He will affirm his children and establish their identity as blessed godly seed enjoying all the graces of God which transfer through the family.

He will seek God for godly standards to set for his family, avoiding excessive demands which become a burden and discouragement to his descedants.

He will pronounce blessings upon his children, releasing the grace of God into their lives.

A wise son will seek the family blessing.

He will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

He will acknowledge and resolve all curses and iniquities in the family line, standing in the gap for his family, so all curses are terminated and turned into blessings for the whole family.

He will claim the family graces and blessings and seek to fulfil godly destiny and privileges which are his in the family.

He will seek and claim his spiritual inheritance, including all those things that have been revealed to the family in previous generations, so his starting point is higher than any of his ancestors.

He will accept his identity from God, even if never released to him by his natural father, seeking God’s endorsement and authority to fulfil godly destiny.

He will accept the standards and challenges set by his father, asking God for grace to fulfil them and to resolve them, and even to remove them if they are vain and counter to an effective godly life.

He will accept all blessings conferred by his dad, and accept all curses also, taking those curses to his Heavenly Father so those curses are turned into blessings.

Further to this, a wise son will walk first as a Son of God, and he will cherish the human father God chose for him, knowing that the weaknesses and failings of that man were designed to test the character of the son and enable the son to find God’s grace, not only for the home, but for life.

A wise son will also be careful to recognise spiritual fathering and be careful to have a godly connection with his natural family and with God as his Heavenly Father.

While the Pharisees had a natural connection to Abraham as their biological family ancestor, Jesus accused them of not being true children of Abraham, because they did not walk in the faith of Abraham, and instead Jesus accused them of being children of the devil, because they did the works of the devil (see John 8:37-44).

Wise sons have God as their Heavenly Father, their natural dad as their human father, Abraham as their spiritual father (following Abraham’s example of believing God), and godly men from the Bible, history and their acquaintance as role models for their lives.

Note that the Western world gives great emphasis on being an individual, rather than being a product of the family.  Many fathers and children today fail to recognise the importance of the family and the father’s blessing.

The Bible reveals that the father has a divinely appointed significance in his children’s lives.  The closing verses of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5,6) suggest that God does not endorse the individualistic ideas of the secular west, but wants us to rediscover the significance of family and the connection between the generations.

Start with Affirmation

Rather than rushing into a family blessing process it might be best in many families to take some time and to deal with the family blessings in at least two stages.

I suggest that a good first stage is AFFIRMATION.

This involves the father affirming the child as his son.  The mother can also engage with this stage.

At this stage it would be good if the child also affirmed their acceptance of their place in the family.

This then leads to the release of the family heritage issues in the child’s life.

At a later, subsequent session, the father can confer a personal blessing onto his child, which the father creates for the child.

These are personal blessings and graces which the parents want to see outworked in the child’s life, such as ministry grace, protection from various weaknesses in the family, and so on.

It may take some time to think about and prepare such a Fatherly Blessing, so that can be left for some later time.

Fathers Passing the Blessing.

A father who wants to bless his children might want to communicate the following ideas….

“Son, I thank God that I have been given the privilege of being your dad.

I know I am not perfect and I don’t think I have been a great example of fathering, but nonetheless I know that God has entrusted your life into my hands and I realise that it is a great responsibility that I cannot take lightly.

Before I bless you, I must first ask you to forgive me for not being a better dad in your life.  As I get older I wish I could have my time over again, to do a better job, with the wisdom I have gained over the years.

Know this, my son, I love you and I do want the best for you.  No matter how imperfectly I do my job, I am your father and I have a special place in your life that I recognise as precious.

Please forgive me for every time I did not do my job as well as you might have wanted or needed me to do it.  I am sure I have let you down in more ways than I will ever know.  I ask you to extend God’s grace to me, because I know that He forgives me.

I am also confident that God is able to restore you and to protect you and to bless you, so that my failings do not have the final say in who you are and how you live.  And I encourage you to take all your burdens and disappointments to Him, finding in Him the one who is a perfect father who can make up for the limitations of your earthly dad.

I also encourage you to join with me in the journey of restoration of our family so that each of us, in our own generation, brings God’s grace upon our extended family, so that all who are related to us are blessed where they have previously been empty handed or even deprived in some way.

And now, as a child of Almighty God and one who is washed in the blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, I confer upon you the blessing of the Lord God, your creator.

I declare this day, before heaven, earth and hell, that you have been brought into the world by the will of God and that Almighty God, your Heavenly Father, has a perfect plan and purpose for your life as one who causes His will to be done and His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

I declare that I am delighted to be your father and to have brought you into the world and to present you back to God as His child created for and released to bring about God’s good pleasure.

I declare that the blessing of God which rests upon my family is now yours by inheritance and I release that inheritance to you.  I confer upon you every blessing and grace that has ever been opened to this family, as your personal birthright and property, and I release it to you as resources for you to use to fulfil the will and purpose of God in your life.

I also recognise that any unresolved curse or blight upon our family is yours by birthright and so I release you this day to take possession of all negative elements of your inheritance and to so deal with them under God’s grace that each one is turned into a blessing for you and for your descendants and for the whole of our extended family.  I give you authority and power in God to put right what has been made wrong and to be a restorer of our family, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

I give you my approval.  I confess my delight in you as my son and as a man of God who will work the works of God.  Go in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ into the destiny for which you have been created.  And as you go, I stand with you, upholding you in the Lord and working with you for the sake of God’s Kingdom.  You are an arrow in my hand, and I am the bow to give impetus to your effectiveness in God’s purposes.

I also confer upon you the blessings which belong to this family which even I do not know about.  Whatever has been lost by this family through the generations, such that gifts and graces from God have been forgotten and deactivated, I now transfer full beneficial ownership of those things into your hands, as well as into my own, that we may reclaim them and reinvigorate them, so that we each walk from this day in new grace and new blessing, as that which has been lost is restored into our lives and into our family.

I also speak greatness upon you.  I give you my hearty approval to go beyond my limitations and to be what I have failed to be.  I authorise you to become great in the kingdom of God, blessed in all you do, as the head and not the tail, as above only and not beneath.  I bless you in the name of the Lord most high, that everything you put your hand to will prosper and that no weapon formed against you can have any effect, and that every tongue that rises against you in judgment is condemned and silenced.

I release the blessing of Almighty God upon you and everything you do.  And I charge you to live for God and for the Kingdom of God, in the fear of God and always in the fullness of God’s grace.”


The physical process of releasing or claiming a blessing can involve direct contact between father and child, such as in laying on of hands (as with Isaac blessing Jacob and Moses authorising Joshua), or direct pronouncement and instruction (such as David releasing the kingship to Solomon or Moses speaking a blessing over the twelve tribes of Israel).

However the blessing is spiritual not physical and so its transfer does not totally rely on physical action.  When the prodigal son’s father advised the older brother of his acceptance and endorsement of the runaway son that prodigal son was not even present.  The elevation of the son happened in the heart of the father and so was directly expressed to the prodigal, but also attested by the father in other contexts as well.

Some fathers may choose to make a ceremony of conferring blessing on their children, while others may simply determine to do it in their heart and to allow the physical expressions of that choice be manifest as appropriate in life’s circumstances.

Some transfers happen whether we are aware of them or not, such as our death heritage from Adam coming upon us.

The practical and physical expressions have much of their value in that the child is made aware of the father’s endorsement and blessing and the public also sees it.  This form of affirmation can be very powerful in a person’s life.

If the ceremonial process is given too much significance then the physical process can end up being given more attention than the underlying spiritual reality of blessing.  What is most important is that your children are blessed and endorsed by their father, not the particular methodology that is used.

A father can confer blessing remotely, by using his personal authority before God to decide and determine to release blessing.  While making this public has great effect, the fact that it has been established in spirit is most significant.

Children Claiming a Blessing

Since many of the blessings that come to us through our family come automatically or by God’s hand, children who have never been given their family blessing are still beneficiaries.

It may be wise for children who have missed their blessing to actually claim it from God, despite the failure of their father to confer it upon them.

Here is a suggested prayer that a person can use to claim their family blessing.

“Lord God, my Heavenly Father, I acknowledge You as my creator and as the one who owns me and is Lord of my life.

I thank You for my father and my family.  You chose that family for me and I accept Your choice.

I also acknowledge that there is both good and bad in my family heritage.

So, Lord, I accept both the good and bad and bring them under Your grace.

I now ask You to confer upon me all the graces and blessings that belong to my family and are mine by birthright.  I also claim from You all the revelations and graces that have been placed upon my family line through the centuries.

At the same time I also recognise that there may be iniquities, curses or other blights coming to me from the failures of my ancestors.  Since those things are mine by inheritance I accept them and I place them at Your feet, asking You to turn all the curses into blessings for me.

And Father, if there are any special graces and callings that have been conferred upon my family through the centuries but which have been lost to us somehow, I ask You to find those abandoned mantles and graces and to place them upon my shoulders, as one with the right to inherit them and to possess them in this generation.

Now Father, I bless my parents and thank You that they brought me into the world.  I forgive their failures.  I choose to love them and I thank You for them.

Lord, I also ask You to bless and lead me until I have full possession of all Your blessings and graces, and am empowered to pass them freely to my own generations, and also to stand in the gap for my entire family.

Thank You for these graces. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray. Amen.”

These notes have been compiled by Ps Chris Field to assist families who have questions about family blessing.
For further information about how to resolve unwanted elements in the family heritage refer to the Steps To Release material and other articles available via  http://ChrisFieldBlog.com or from the resources of http://FamilyHorizons.net
Copyright CGF 2012