The Danger Of The Root Of Bitterness
“looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…”
How Do We Define Bitterness?
Bitterness is a feeling of resentfulness that creates hostility toward others. This attitude is like a cancer that eats away at us until we are consumed with anger, resentment or jealousy. Bitterness can be caused by a number of things such as misunderstandings, taking offense to some alleged wrong, judging another person unfairly, impugning the motives of some one’s actions or behavior. Bitterness can be caused by jealousy or resentment over the success and achievements of others. Bitterness can also be caused by pride where we set ourselves up as judge and jury over some one else. At the heart of bitterness is the feeling that I have been hurt or wronged. This feeling of being hurt fuels the fire of anger and resentment. This feeling grows and grows and gnaws away at our soul until we are we are blinded to reality and we can only see something evil, sinister, or negative about that which has stung our heart.
A person over taken by bitterness is in a very dangerous place spiritually. Bitterness has no place in the life of a true believer. A bitter person does not practice the practical and gracious teachings of Jesus. There is no desire to understand. There is no gentle spirit of kindness and grace. There is no effort to give the offending person the benefit of the doubt. There is no attempt to be a peace maker. There is no desire to find a middle road. Bitterness is quick to take up an offense. It is quick to judge and condemn. Bitterness refuses to be reconciled, and bitterness will not allow us to even consider the possibility that we may be wrong. For the ones who are stung by bitterness there is only the desire to prove themselves right and others wrong. There is only the desire to condemn and criticize. There is no desire to listen to anyone who may have more information that would defuse or heal the situation. Rarely will a bitter person come to the offending brother or sister first with a spirit of grace and kindness seeking to understand. Rather, the lines are quickly drawn, judgments are made, attitudes are formed, opinions are planted in cement, and words, letters, calls, emails fly like bullits zinging the one who is the alleged culprit who has caused us such bitterness. When ever you see a bitter person just ask yourself, “What is in their behavior that is in any way like Christ?
The bitter person is a person who is characterized by resentment and jealousy, The bitter person is cynical, cold, cruel, harsh, mean spirited, and unpleasant to be around. As the bitter person wages their private war against another brother or sister, some leader, pastor, friend, or relative, they delude themselves into thinking that they are spiritual for having these ungodly attitudes. They have been duped into thinking that they are the ones who are truly spiritual. How sad it is that they cannot see that their attitudes are of the flesh and not of the Spirit. As they continue in their bitterness they walk around in a proud show of false piety and fail to see that true spirituality is the fruit of the Spirit that manifests itself by love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, patience, graciousness and mercy.
Some one described the way bitterness works in the soul:
“Bitterness starts out small. An offense burrows its way into our hearts. We replay it in our minds, creating deep ruts that will be hard to build back up. We retell our hurts to any available listener, including each sordid detail. We enlist support, pushing us further into our resentment. We hear the offending person's name and cringe.
We decipher the offense as intentional and our offender as full of spite. We look for other reasons, both real or imagined, to dislike our villain. With each new piece of information, we form another layer of bitterness.
We fool ourselves into thinking no one will know, but anger and resentment have a way of seeping into everything. Resentment is like a beach ball we try to submerge in the water. No matter how valiant our efforts, it pops up with all its vitality,”
As bitterness does its deadly work, it poisons the soul, hardens the heart, blinds our spiritual eyes, puffs us up with pride and makes us more like Satan than the Savior. When professing Christians succumb to bitterness it is a very, very, serious sin. Bitterness is a mark of the unregenerate. Bitterness is not a good indication of spiritual life in the soul. Those who profess to be the Lord’s should flee bitterness like the plague. To persist in a bitter spirit is to be in danger of hell fire.
The Negative Impact Of Bitterness
- Bitterness poisons the soul.
- Bitterness destroys our ability to reason correctly.
- Bitterness can ruin our marriage.
- Bitterness can hurt our children.
- Bitterness can influence and harm others around us.
- Bitterness fills our heart with pride.
- Bitterness closes our heart to the wise counsel of godly leaders.
- Bitterness turns us into rebels.
- Bitterness can end life long friendships.
- Bitterness turns us into a walking, talking hypocrites.
- Bitterness fills the heart with self-righteousness.
- Bitterness grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit.
- Bitterness robs us of true joy in life.
- Bitterness blinds us so we don’t realize how nasty, ugly, and disgusting we have become.
- Bitterness is a product of the flesh and not a fruit of the Spirit.
- Bitterness is deadly as it deceives the heart and causes it to be filled with pride.
- Bitterness is the pathway to hell.
- Bitterness is the attribute of Satan not an attribute of God.
The Signs And Evidences Of A Bitter Heart
- Have others mentioned to you that you are bitter? Bitterness leaves behind its ugly footprints and slimy finger prints. We don’t see it but those around us do.
- Have you allowed resentment to destroy a life long friendship?
- Have you allowed a disagreement, a misunderstanding, or a disappointment to effect the way you look at someone you once loved and respected?
- Have you withdrawn from or broken fellowship with someone you were once close to?
- Have you discarded your mentors, pastors, counselors or friends who once had an influence over your life because you disagree with them on some issue?
- Have you made mountains out of mole hills?
- Do you pass by friends and look the other way and try to sneak by without speaking?
- Do you find yourself justifying why you are so upset or angry with people you once loved, respected, or trusted?
- Do you allow hurt feelings, misunderstandings or even disagreements to cause you to break your promises, quit your obligations, or forsake your commitments?
- Do you stew over the things that upset you and come up with a millions reasons to justify your behavior?
- Do you find yourself obsessing over some event, situation, or offense till it fills you with anger, resentment and bitterness?
- Have you walked away from any family members, friends, or people you once fellowshipped with?
- Do you hold a grudge and won’t let it go finding reasons to keep the flames of anger burning in your heart?
- Are you resentful or jealous of others?
- Do you find yourself living in a state of negativity with a critical spirit?
- Do you feel that you are right and never consider that maybe you don’t have all the information or that there is a possibility that you are wrong?
- Can you allow one hurt, one disagreement, one misunderstanding to destroy a friendship of many years?
- Do you keep a record of past alleged wrongs or offenses and keep bringing them up and share them with others?
- Do you look for situations, signs, or circumstances to justify your feelings or give you confirmation that you are right?
Those Who Have These Tell-Tale Signs of Bitterness
Should Consider How A spiritual Person Acts
- A spiritual person may get angry but does not let his anger overwhelm him or last very long. Paul the apostle said, “Be angry and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26.
- A spiritual person is filled with the Holy Spirit and practices agape love as Paul describes it in I Corinthians 13. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”
- A spiritual person remembers what Jesus taught when He said, “He who is without sin let him throw the first stone…” John 8:7
- A spiritual person follows Ephesians 4:32, “Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
- A spiritual person knows that among the seven things that God hates and are an abomination to Him is “…he that sows discord among the brethren.”
- A spiritual person does not let one moment, one disagreement, one conflict destroy a life time of blessings, memories, and relationships.
- A spiritual person can agree to disagree without destroying a life long friendship.
- A spiritual person does not assume he or she is always right.
- A spiritual person seeks to understand, and responds with love, patience, kindness, and grace.
- A spiritual person has learned to turn the other cheek to those who may have offended or wounded them.
- A spiritual person does not take up an offense.
- A spiritual person does not keep a grudge.
- A spiritual person is slow to anger and slow to speak.
- A spiritual person follows Philippians 2:1-4. “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
- A spiritual person will respond to biblical authority and repent and make things right and if necessary humbly ask for forgiveness.
- A spiritual person, when they realize that their attitude is unbiblical, ungodly, and unChristlike will make adjustments to correct it.
- A spiritual person realizes that bitterness is not compatible with those who are really born again. Have you ever heard of a godly-bitter Christian? A spiritual-bitter Christian? A Christlike-bitter Christian? A holy-bitter Christian? A saintly-bitter Christian? The two concepts are mutually exclusive.
- A spiritual person remembers that the Lord does not reject us or cast us away because of one sin, failure or some disagreement.
- Spiritual Christian remembers the example of our Father in Heaven of whom it was said in Psalm 103, “
- A spiritual Christian does not forget that the very essence of a Christ- like life is patience, pity, kindness, love, forbearance and grace. Far too many Christians talk about grace but fail to display grace.
- A spiritual Christian takes counsel from wise biblical authorities and listens to the exhortations of others.
- A spiritual Christian pursues peace with all men! Hebrews 12:14
- A spiritual Christian fears lest a root of bitterness in his or her heart defiles many in the flock. Hebrews 12:15.
- A spiritual Christian knows that bitterness can poison the heart and chain our soul to evil. Acts 8:23.
- A spiritual person remembers what Jesus said, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15.
- A spiritual person knows that bitterness is an evidence of an unregenerate heart, “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” Romans 3:14
- A spiritual person does not forget that the Father loved them when they were unlovely. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. How unlike Christ we sometimes act! We hold grudges, show contempt, act disgusted, break off fellowship, nurse our hurts, and treat others with unkindness just because we have been offended, insulted, disappointed, or had a disagreement with someone.
- A spiritual person knows that the way of the cross is the way of humility, love, forgiveness, patience and kindness.
- A spiritual person will obey Romans 12:17-21 no matter how hard it may be. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
- A spiritual person does not stir up wrath and cause divisions among the brethren, “A wrathful man stirs up strife…” Proverbs 15:18.
- A spiritual person will slay the dragon of bitterness. A bitter person will not admit he or she is bitter. Suggest to them that they are bitter and they will pour out a torrent of reasons why the other person is wrong and why they are right. The opinions of a bitter person are elevated to the status of the laws of the Medes and Persians. “It’s my opinion and it’s quite true” is the sad attitude of the bitter heart.
- A spiritual person, even if they are right about someone, they will seek to understand, be a peacemaker, and will find a way to remove the issue without conflict. I have learned over the years that unreasonable men are unspiritual men. Proud men are the children of hell not the children of heaven.
“If” by Amy Carmichael
Amy Carmichael wrote a marvelous book entitled, “If”. This Book Teaches Us How To Die To Self. Here are a few quotes from that book that every Christian should read.
“if I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I can hurt another by speaking faithfully without much preparation of spirit, and without hurting myself far more than I hurt that other, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I cannot be at rest under the Unexplained, forgetting the word, “And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me”; or if I can allow the least shadow of a misunderstanding, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I say, “Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,” as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I refuse to be a corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies (“is separated from all in which it lived before”), then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I forget that the way of the cross leads to the cross and not to a bank of flowers; if I regulate my life on these lines, or even unconsciously my thinking, so that I am surprised when the way is rough and think it strange, though the word is, “Think it not strange,” “Count it all joy,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“if I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
My dear Berean brothers and sisters, do we know anything about Calvary Love? The poet wrote:
“O the love that drew salvations plan,
O the grace that brought it down to man,
O the mighty gulf it spanned,
My love and prayers are with you all,
Pastor Robert L. Dickie