How To Conquer Bitterness
It has been said that bitterness and acid will destroy the vessel that contains them. How true! I have had the awful experience of being bitter at others and, friend it is just not worth it! I beg you to read this blog unto the bitter end (pun intended) and begin the journey out of the prison you have created for yourself by allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to invade and permeate your soul. You may not think you need to do this but those around you can see it and meanwhile you will continue to justify the bad spirit you have worked so hard at keeping unless you take the first step by admitting you are bitter and then wanting the victory over it. Only the Lord can deliver you. In fact, I will be posting other blogs on this subject because it may take you some time to get set free. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest ANY root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Hebrews 12:15 Bitterness starts with an unforgiving spirit towards a person or persons who have offended us. In some cases, there may be bitterness towards God Himself! I mean when you think about it God could have stopped the offender from hurting you right? We will address that aspect later.
You May Think You Are Justified
Years ago I had a man come into the office and he was a wreck emotionally from the unforgiveness he held on to as a result of the abuse he had suffered at the hands of his father maybe fifty years earlier. I will not go into the details here so as to not bog you down with mental images. Suffice it to say it was horrible! He said repeatedly, “I hate my father! I hate my father!” The wicked dad was now dead and probably in hell (his words.) Yet because he had not forgiven his dad he was suffering greatly which was affecting his wife and grown children. He stuttered profusely and was paranoid that his wife was cheating on him. He had a continual conflict with his grown son who had learned to be bitter by watching his dad. This poor man had not forgiven his dad for the cruelties and therefore had been delivered over to the tormentors. (Matthew 18:34) Some of the things that will torment a bitter person can be hives, colitis, stomach ulcers, germaphobia, recurring nightmares, unexplained anxiety attacks, and a host of other illnesses.
During another counseling time, I was talking with a man who told me how his stepmother had him and his brother fight as gladiators for her sick entertainment! His bitterness at her and his biological dad was easy to see some seventy years later. The problem did not end at his hatred and bitterness towards his stepmother. It extended to others who were alive who had offended him recently. Remember, “and thereby many be defiled”? Hebrews 12:15c It was impossible to dislodge him from the bitterness he had. He reveled in it!
No doubt there are those reading this who can say, “But you do not know what happened to me!” It is true I do not know the sufferings you endured but the Lord does, and He wants you to get the victory over it. It may be you were raped, beaten, abandoned, or viciously attacked. The very essence of forgiveness is that you must forgive the moral debt they owe you. Let me explain it like this. Let’s say you and I go into business. I provide the funds and you buy the equipment needed for a coffee house. After a period of time, I come to you and ask how the business is doing expecting a return on my loan. You hang your head and say how the business went belly up because a customer found a dead rat in a biscuit he was served and he sued you out of business. So I say, “You have none of my money to return to me is that right?” and you reply, “No, I lost it all.” I am going have to forgive the debt. You simply can not pay me back what you owe me. There it is! Did you get it? Your offender cannot pay you back what is owed you. Maybe he took your innocence, maybe your purity, maybe your good name, maybe a child was murdered and he cannot give him or her back to you. So since he cannot pay you back, you take it upon yourself to hate him or her until you feel better about it. You may as well drink salt water to satisfy your thirst. Any sailor will tell you if stranded at sea, never drink ocean water to quench your thirst. You will go insane in a short amount of time. The same is true for bitter people. You are drinking the poison out of the cup hoping the other person will die and all the while you are the one getting sick! A person who is bitter will not think clearly. The occupation in your mind of the offender will cloud your thinking. A good working definition of bitterness is “the unresolved violation of my justice system.” Please remember that it is not our place to put them on trial or to exact a pound of flesh from them. They cannot undo their sin(s) against you! They cannot pay you back! That is the Lord’s job to exact whatever type of justice is due. You and I will never do it right. By the way, Christian aren’t you glad the Lord has forgiven you of all your sins past, present, and future? Why don’t you do the same? The Lord will give you the grace to do so. Read all of Matthew chapter eighteen right now. Do NOT forgive them and then wait for the Lord to hurt them. That is NOT forgiveness! God desires mercy and not sacrifice. So should you!
Having A Conscience Void Of Offense
It is a wonderful thing to not be bitter! I know! I have been bitter (starting with unforgiveness) a few times and have been tempted many other times. Years ago my precious deacon left me for another church and they took him right in and made him a deacon there. I was devastated! I loved him dearly and because of a few misunderstandings, he left without trying to work it out. I was honest with the Lord when I said, “Dear Lord I do not even want to forgive him! This hurts so much!” (Might as well be transparent with God.) He knows all of our thoughts anyway. I began by praying, “Lord I know I should forgive but I can’t. Can you please help me to at least want to forgive him?” after weeks of praying I began to want to a little. I kept praying and God gave grace and I forgave him in my heart. I had the victory! Then the Holy Spirit said, “Now take him out to lunch.” We had a great time together. You may be asking, “Did he say he was sorry for what he did?” No, and your offender may never ask your forgiveness either! Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting them to do so.