by Brandy Webb
I have written many blogs that mention bitterness, but I have never written about it directly. Recently, I have noticed a lot of bitterness within people, even within God’s ecclesia. However, bitterness should never be allowed to grow within us. It is a fleshly weed that must be plucked out.
Bitterness is defined by Google as “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.” In other words, it is the inability to forgive others that have wronged you, the inability to let go of the hurt because of bad things that have happened in the past, and to harbor resentment and anger for all of it. This resentment and anger then just stews inside you until it becomes full on bitterness. Considering that most of us do not like to eat food that is bitter, I would say that many of us don’t like to hang out with someone that is bitter.
I have realized that those I have encountered that are bitter use it as a crutch to not mature. It is their reason for why their life did not go as planned. It is their reason why they are justified for their poor choices. However, this shows poor sense for “good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).
We can look at our Bible and see what happens to the people who became bitter. Cain became bitter over Abel’s accepted sacrifice, so he killed him. Joseph’s brothers became bitter over their father’s treatment of Joseph, so they sold him into slavery, and then lied to their father for many years. Saul became bitter over the popularity of David, and he lost the Kingdom of Israel. The Pharisees and Sadducees became bitter over the Messiah, so they crucified Him. I am sure there are many more, but I just wanted to name a few. I really do not want to join this club.
Then on the flip side, we have those that bad things did happen to, but they did not get bitter. They kept the faith. They forgave. They moved on walking down the path of righteousness. Joseph did not become bitter over what his brothers did; in fact, he was wise to see that God worked it all out for good. David did not become bitter in regards to Saul. He actually protected the last living relative of Saul, which meant he protected someone that could try to contend for the kingship. The Messiah did not become bitter in regards to His treatment by those that should have recognized Him for who He was. He did rebuke them, but He still sacrificed himself for everyone, even those that wronged Him. There are definitely many more examples regarding those that didn’t let bad things stop them from living a life full of God’s Spirit of love, forgiveness, peace, etc., because that is what bitterness does; it quenches God’s Spirit. It stops us from growing in the fullness of His Spirit, thus affecting our walk towards His Kingdom.
Paul states that we all are to “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15, emphasis mine). “Striving for peace with everyone” is a major step in weeding out bitterness. How can one be bitter if they are at peace with everyone? So, how does one strive for peace? You strive to walk in the footsteps of the Messiah by being “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). This leads to the most important points for me, if we are bitter we are unforgiving, and if we do not forgive others, then the Father will not forgive us (Matt 6:14-15).
Therefore, we must rid ourselves of any bitterness. It is a stronghold that will keep us from moving in a Godly direction. So let us strive to live as Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12-14:
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
We must remember, all of us will face struggles. Life doesn’t go as planned. And people can be cruel. However, none of these gives us justification for becoming bitter. We have many witnesses that have gone through many trials and betrayals, but they never let that hold them back or stop them from living for Christ. So, let us look to them for strength and wisdom, knowing we are not alone, and let us become witnesses for the next generation.