Friday, January 13, 2012

Bitterness

It may seem strange to address this topic, but in recent years I have seen so much destruction of life and ministry due to bitterness.  I believe every person has the choice to be joyful or to be bitter, simply due to the fact that all of us have been, or will be at some future point, hurt by someone else.  Bitterness is like an infection in the body.  The wound can be superficial or devastating, but the infection can be deadly!

Once as a child, I had a small cut or bee sting on the bottom of my foot.  It was summertime, and I usually ran around barefoot, the soles of my feet like leather.  Gravel driveways didn’t even make me flinch! I came in to wash up for dinner one evening, and my mom saw a red line running up my leg, almost to the knee.  It was blood poisoning—apparently, the miniscule wound had gotten dirty and it was endangering my health.  If left for a few more hours, it could have been life-threatening!  The surprising thing to me was that I had not noticed it.  It didn’t hurt, and I felt just fine.  A quick trip to the doctor ensued, and after several days of treatment, I was back to normal.  Mom did try to encourage me to keep my shoes on for some reason. :)

Bitterness is like that blood poisoning.  It enters unnoticed through a wound and begins spreading its poison throughout the body.  Too many times, the bitter person does not even realize that they have a problem.  In fact, most of the time, the bitterness is noticed by other people first.  Sadly, when the diagnosis is made, the bitter person denies the problem, or worse, justifies the infection.  “Of course I’m bitter—don’t you know what they did to me?  I have a right to feel this way because I have been hurt!” Instead of allowing the healing balm of God’s Word, and the love and concern of fellow Christians to minister to that hurt by purging out the infection, the bitter person snaps and snarls like a wounded animal, closely guarding the festering hurt.  The ones who love that person are forced to watch helplessly as that person’s bitterness-induced choices slowly destroy them.

Bitterness always spreads.  The Bible warns of bitterness and how it can defile many.  It has never been easier to spread bitterness and discord than in today’s world of social networking.  One person spouts off about how they have been hurt, and instantly, hundreds of people take up the cause.  Most of the time, the person initiating the bitterness session doesn’t even present all the facts—just their twisted side of the story.  Implications, insinuations, misrepresentations,  and plain old lies are posted for the world to see.  People, churches, pastors, friends, and relatives are publicly maligned.  This is so far from Christian behavior!  What happened to going to the offender and seeking to restore the relationship?  What is worse, “the simple believeth every word!”  People who barely know the offended and may not even know the offender sit at their computers and phones and condemn the offender, who half the time doesn’t even know that he has offended someone!  This is rank carnality, and should never be condoned!  I don’t care if it is your life—you don’t have the right to spread your poison to others!

Another sad fact is that once a person has become bitter, they are prone to further injury by the slightest act.  Just as an infected wound causes excessive tenderness in surrounding areas, the poison spreads throughout the body, damaging other members, causing more pain.  If the infection is allowed to progress, soon it will be impossible to touch any area of the body without it hurting.  The bitter person becomes suspicious of everyone’s words, actions, and motives.  Everyone has an ulterior motive, and the concept of trust is left out of the equation.

Much is said about dealing with past hurts and learning to move on, but I believe the only way to truly move on with life after terrible hurt is to let go of the pain!  As long as you are holding on to those offences, you can never move past the hurt.  I vividly remember a time of great personal pain in my own life.  Someone very close to me was intentionally trying to destroy my life.  I did everything I could to repair the situation, but to no avail.  It was a source of great hurt and I struggled with my emotions for a long time.  However, one day, the Spirit of God so clearly spoke to my heart and said, “You can allow this to make you bitter, or you can allow this to make you better.”  It was that simple.  I saw the choice before me, and by God’s grace, I made the choice to forgive, even though that person never sought my forgiveness, denied that any wrong had been committed, and bitterly accused me of sinning against him.  The relationship was never reconciled, and though saddened by this person’s loss, I resolved to move past the hurt and allow God to reward us both according to our deeds.

For you, my hurting friend,it is time to let go of those wounds, whether petty or great, and let God heal your life.  Pour in the Word of God and allow Him to cleanse out the bitterness.  Do not let your bitterness destroy your life, or be a stumbling block to others.  The Bible states, “It is impossible but that offences will come.”  Life is not without pain.  Learn to deal with it, and allow God to give you the peace and joy that true forgiveness brings!

2 comments:

  1. What an appropriate and timely post. Thank you!

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  2. wow, Sarah! Paul wouldn't let you preach from the pulpit but you found your place to do it. :)

    Such truth, even though sometimes hard to hear here. You are so right in many things.

    I really struggled with bitterness in my teen years towards my dad and it took getting away from the situation at my first year of college to finally allow the Lord to work in my life and for me to let go of the pain.

    Because of allowing bitterness to have a hold in my life for many years, it is so easy for me to "get hurt" and turn to it again. Thankfully, my husband sees it instantly in me and can address it (even though I usually don't want to hear it or admit that he is right).

    Love all these articles - keep writing! :)

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