Hatred, unforgiveness, jealousy—we all know these and other caustic feelings are physically and emotionally harmful.
Yet every one of these toxic emotions is self-induced! Each reflects a conscious decision we have made. If we hate someone—no matter what that person has done to us, no matter how "deserving" we feel he or she is of our hatred—it is nevertheless our decision to hate. If we are jealous of someone's success or unforgiving of something someone has done, our jealousy or unforgiveness is clearly an action (or a reaction, to be more precise) that we have taken. We may be unaware of such hidden consequences as elevated levels of powerful stress-coping chemicals dumped into the bloodstream and a weakened immune system, just to name a few. But our ignorance of the physiological consequences does not mitigate the harm they do to us. The damage they cause is very real.
What about the spiritual consequences of such negative emotions? Is it possible to be acutely aware of God's presence when we are hating someone? Can we really recognize and experience God's blessings if we have unforgiveness in our hearts? We can only fill our glass with sparkling clear water when we empty it of muddy water. The two cannot coexist in the same container. If you have made a decision to hate or not to forgive, you can make a new decision today that will change your life dramatically. It is the decision to love.
Note the emphasis on the word decision. While it's certainly possible to have a change of heart and go directly from hating someone to loving someone, it is more likely the process will go in steps. But just making the decision to love begins immediately to replace the muddy water with sparkling clear water. Deciding to love means our heart is already there, even if we have no idea how it will come about. Where the heart is, the rest will follow. It's the decision to love that changes things.