Paul went to bed after taking a pill for anxiety, a pill for nausea and another pill for sleep. His stomach always stayed upset and he kept a headache. His ex-wife had taken his house and kids. He felt that he had nothing left because of her, nothing except for his intense bitterness and desire for revenge. “I hate her!” he said. “I wish we’d never gotten married. She ruined my life. I think about it all the time!”
The Apostle Peter said to Simon the Sorcerer, a man who tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit with money, “For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” (Acts 8:23) Bitterness is something that can hold you in bondage, take away your joy and leave you living under a cloud of pain, anger and depression. Anger turned out is wrath. Anger turned in is bitterness. If we think of bitterness as a tree, it all starts with a seed.
THE SEED of bitterness may be something hurtful that someone has said to you. It may be something bad that someone has done to you. Whatever it is, if internalized and left unforgiven, it will lead to a root.
THE ROOT of bitterness fixes itself in your heart and mind. It causes you to hold on to bitter memories of wrongs that others have done to you. Just as it is hard to pull a well-rooted weed out of the ground, it is hard to remove bitterness from your soul. Bitter roots inside create bitter fruits outside.
THE FRUIT of bitterness is unkindness and harsh words and actions towards those with whom we are bitter. It can also lead to a generally harsh and unpleasant attitude towards those closest to us.
GETTING RID OF BITTERNESS:
How to turn lemons into lemonade
- Put away bitterness.
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
To “put away” means, “to carry off.” You cannot carry bitterness off, or away, from yourself. You must give your hurt to Christ and let Him take the bitter root out of your heart.
- Be kind.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted…” (Ephesians 4:32a) We must replace harsh words and actions towards those around us with kindness. Being kind will make our hearts tender towards the hurts and needs of others.
“…Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32b) To “forgive,” in this verse means, “to give grace.” Just as Christ has graciously forgiven us when we did not deserve it, we should give others the forgiveness they do not deserve. We cannot do this of ourselves. We do this “for Christ’s sake.” Jesus suffered for the sins of the person who wronged you. Show the grace of forgiveness to them for His sake.
The Story of Joseph
If any man could have been bitter at the way life had treated him, Joseph certainly could have. You can read his story in Genesis 37-50. Sold into slavery by his own jealous brothers when he was young, he was made a servant in a prominent man’s house in Egypt. Joseph was falsely accused of a crime and put in prison where he was forgotten. After years, he had an opportunity to be brought before Egypt’s Pharaoh to interpret a dream. He was then made second in command in Egypt and given the opportunity to face his brothers again who had, years before, sold him as a slave.
Instead of being bitter, he looked at his whole life as under the control of God. He saw God working wonderful things through his adverse circumstances, things that brought him to a place to have the power to save the nation of Israel from extinction. He said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
It could be that the thing that is making you bitter has actually been given to you as an opportunity to make you better. It may be that God plans to use your life in a great way for His glory. Let Christ take the bitterness away, before it sours your whole life!