DANGERS OF BITTERNESS
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO RESIST BITTERNESS? (Hebrews 12:14-17)
“Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison”. (Hebrews 12:15)
BITTERNESS WILL AFFECT OTHERS. (1 John 3:11-24)
“Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them”. (1 John 3:15)
Like a small root that grows into a great tree, bitterness springs up in our heart and overshadows even our deepest Christian relationships. A “bitter root” comes when we allow disappointment to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts. Bitterness brings with it jealousy, dissension, and immorality. When the Holy Spirit fills us, however, he can heal the hurt that causes bitterness.
BITTERNESS UNDERMINES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
John echoes Jesus’ words that whoever hates another person is a murderer at heart (Matthew 5:21-22). Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward compliance alone is not enough. Bitterness against someone who has wronged you is an evil cancer within you and will eventually destroy you. Don’t let a “bitter root” (Hebrews 12:15) grow in you or your church.
HOW CAN WE KEEP BITTERNESS FROM TAKING ROOT? (Genesis 33:1-20)
“Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him affectionately and kissed him. Both of them were in tears”. (Genesis 33:4)
BITTERNESS DOESN’T LEAVE BY ITSELF. ( Luke 15:11-32)
“We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15:32)
It is refreshing to see Esau’s change of heart when the two brothers meet again. The bitterness over losing his birthright and blessing (25:29-34) seems gone. Instead, Esau was content with what he had. Jacob even exclaimed how great it was to see his brother obviously pleased with him (33:10).Life can bring us some bad situations. We can feel cheated, as Esau did, but we don’t have to remain bitter. We can remove bitterness from our life by honestly expressing our feelings to God, forgiving those who have wronged us, and being content with what we have.
BITTERNESS CAN BE REMOVED BY FORGIVENESS.
In the story of the lost son, the father’s response is contrasted with the older brother’s. The father forgave because he was filled with love. The older son refused to forgive because he was bitter about the injustice of it all. His resentment rendered him just as lost to the father’s love as his younger brother had been. Don’t let anything keep you from forgiving others. If you are refusing to forgive people, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to experience joy and share it with others. Make your joy grow: forgive somebody who has hurt you.
GOD’S WORD ON BITTERNESS
Bitterness is anger that has settled in for the long term. It is an anger that has birthed resentment, the feeling that we have been treated harshly, unfairly, or carelessly. Left to eat its way deep into our mind, emotions, and even our soul, bitterness can turn us into hostile, hardened people. The poison of bitterness, left unchecked, can destroy us. And the most dangerous thing about bitterness is that it renders forgiveness inactive, which puts our relationship with God and others on hold.
HOW DO WE BECOME BITTER? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CAUSES OF BITTER FEELINGS?
Genesis 27:41 . . . Esau hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing.Esther 5:9 . . . What a happy man Haman was as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, he was furious.We become bitter by letting anger and hatred control us.Ephesians 4:31-32 . . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger . . . Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.We become bitter when we demand our way and stop forgiving and forgetting. We would do well to remember that God has forgiven us despite our continual sinful tendencies.Hebrews 12:15 . . . Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.We become bitter by forgetting God’s grace, which is showered upon us each day.Ecclesiastes 2:17 . . . Now I hate life because everything done here under the sun is so irrational. Everything is meaningless, like chasing the wind.Job 10:1 . . . I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.Proverbs 19:3 . . . People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.Practicing sin cultivates the fruits of sin-emptiness, bitterness, foolishness, and a sense of meaningless activity.
IS BITTERNESS ASSOCIATED ONLY WITH ANGER, OR DOES IT RESULT FROM OTHER EMOTIONS AS WELL?
2 Samuel 19:1-8 . . . As the troops heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness.Intense grief or mourning can produce bitterness of spirit. The bitterness of intense grief, allowed to continue, robs us of the joy our spirit longs for.
WHAT IS THE RESULT OF UNRESOLVED BITTERNESS?
Job 5:2 . . . Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple.Proverbs 27:3 . . . A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is heavier than both.Genesis 37:42-43 . . . She sent for Jacob and told him, “Esau is threatening to kill you.”Unresolved bitterness leads to hatred, anger, jealousy, and revenge. It keeps us from fellowship with God and others and blocks us from noticing God’s blessings.
HOW DO I DEAL WITH BITTERNESS TOWARDS OTHERS?
Acts 8:22-23 . . . Turn from your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitterness and held captive by sin.Mark 11:25 . . . When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.Ephesians 4:31-32 . . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.Forgiveness lifts burdens, cancels debts, and frees us from chains of bitterness.
HOW CAN WE CAUSE BITTERNESS IN OTHERS?
Amos 5:7 . . . You wicked people! You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the poor and oppressed. Righteousness and fair play are meaningless fictions to you.When we are unjust or unfair in our dealings with others, particularly those who are poor and oppressed. Treat others with the same respect and fairness with which you expect to be treated.
FORGIVENESS AND COMFORT-TWO REMEDIES FOR BITTERNESS.
2 Corinthians 2:7 . . . Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover.There are times when simple forgiveness can relieve a lifetime of bitterness. Recovery from acute bitterness may be as complex as the reasons for the bitterness, but it may also be as simple as three spoken words: “I forgive you.”
PROMISE FROM GOD:
Titus 1:15 . . . Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure.