31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:31-32
Bitterness, by definition, is a lingering anger at being treated unfairly or unjustly. It’s a building resentment at being wronged. We’ve all been in that place of deep hurt. We have some expectation for how we should be treated by some person in our lives - a co-worker, a neighbor, a family member, a spouse, and when they fail to meet that expectation, we get angry. That anger quickly escalated to bitterness when we hold on to it, especially when the person continues to fail to meet our expectations.
Bitterness goes further than just anger in its definition, it’s considered a harsh emotion, marked by intense animosity or contempt. When we have unresolved anger in our lives, and we stuff it away without dealing with it, it’s like putting fuel on a fire in a closed oven - the intensity just increases exponentially. Bitterness is a dangerous emotion because the intensity can lead to the hardening of our hearts. When we hold on to the anger of an injustice, and the emotion intensifies into bitterness, we can no longer see the issue from any perspective other than ours - we are no longer tender or teachable. We justify our anger in our minds, and that portion of our hearts just becomes calloused over. We can even recognize our own bitterness, claiming out loud that we are bitter, but failing to see the danger in that because our hearts have become so calloused over the bitterness.
It’s interesting when you research bitterness in scripture, you begin to understand the severity of this emotion. 18 Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit,19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.'- Deuteronomy 29:18-19. Read that again. Someone who is bitter has a wrong view of their eternal security. He thinks he is justified in his stubbornness because he has been saved. We need to take that warning seriously. If we are holding on to anger, if bitterness has taken root in our hearts, we are committed a wicked sin against the Lord and our eternal salvation is not secure. That root will continue to create a division between you and the Lord. I’ve had so many counseling conversations with people who feel distant from the Lord, but fail to recognize the sin of bitterness that separates them from the very one who save them.
There is only way to free yourself from the root of bitterness. Forgiveness. Immediate, unilateral forgiveness. We are told not to let the sun go down on our anger because God knows the temptation for our hearts to turn that anger into bitterness. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we are called to do as believers because we grow up in a world that tells us we need an apology to forgive. We need the other person to acknowledge that are wrong and hurt us. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this difficult journey called life, it is this: we don’t need the other person to do anything in order for us to forgive them. They don’t need to say they’re sorry, they don’t need to make it up to us, they don’t even need to acknowledge our hurt for us to forgive them. God forgave us long 2,000 years before we were able to say we’re sorry, and if we are called to forgive as God forgives, then we best get on His timetable and let it go.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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