"Bitterness injects a poison so powerful, that the only antidote to heal it is forgiveness."
The following is an excerpt taken from my book: Poured Out, Spilled and Broken available on my website at www.egbnow.org
"...looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by this many become defiled." (Hebrews 12:15)
I find the definition of bitterness very interesting in light of the fact that so many of us have it in our hearts. According to Webster it means, "An intensity of severity of distress or hatred causing an extremely harsh or cruel feeling." It's also described in the Bible in Acts 8:23 as being "poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity" (NKJV). Why do so many of us allow ourselves to be poisoned by such an unhealthy thing? Imagine the depth of damage, spiritually as well as physically, that this poison can do to us over the course of an extended amount of time?
I think it's justifiably true that we can say with confidence, that bitterness can poison and contaminate us. Because of it's effects, our spirits become soured and then before we know it, it's progressed to us being at enmity with God. If we continue to allow bitterness to stay on course, it will eventually overtake us to the point of our hearts becoming spiritually desensitized. Oh, but it doesn't stop there either! It can actually lead us into an emotional and mental collapse. What's next? As the T.V. commercials tells us, maybe Zoloft. It doesn't have to be this way.
When we make a choice to step into bitterness, we immediately step out of God's Covering. This will-full act of disobedience on our part ties God's hands from intervening on our behalf. Whenever we choose to disobey any of God's commandments, we are in turn obeying our human nature and embracing sin. Every single time we choose sin over godliness, the effects are harmful to our spirit. We are, in effect, replacing God's yoke, which is light and easy (Matthew 11:29), with our own yoke which is heavy and hard. Is it not any wonder that when this transfer takes place, we begin sensing a heaviness within our spirits that weighs us down?
In our flesh, we find ourselves continually concentrating upon our offenses. We eat, sleep and drink our "offenses"! We roll them over and over in our minds like a silent movie, continually pushing the replay button. Before we know it, our mouths have teamed up with our minds. Now, we're not just thinking about the offense, we're talking about the offense. These offenses have now become the new hot topic of conversation with everyone we come into contact with. Listen, I'm not just speaking to others about their offenses ... I'm also speaking to myself about offenses I have also carried. I've done this many times! Too many times to even count. No pointing fingers at anyone else! Remember ... when you're pointing at someone else, there's three fingers pointing back at you!
Bitterness mixes very nicely with poison, disobedience and desolation. Then it bakes itself together with a whole new recipe called a barren wasteland. As we dig in and eat this entire newfound recipe, we realize that our spirits are now dry and parched. So what are we supposed to drink to wash the thickness of our new recipe down? The only water available to us is contaminated with pollutants. Now. we're really in trouble! Do you see the point of this analogy? The end result of bitterness is met with desolation.
Bitterness should be looked upon as nothing more than a handicap sent from hell, to render us powerless and crippled in our spiritual walk. Keep that in mind the next time when bitterness comes knocking at your minds door. Keep that door shut and bolted, and never welcome it in. It only hinders ... it never helps.
The Messengers of Bitterness
Many things can carry bitterness to the doorsteps of our minds.
- Jealousy- through people, things and appearances.
- Gossip- through situations where you've been hurt or slandered by another person.
- Marital Problems-through instances where there has been abuse, abandonment or emotional neglect.
- Financial Problems-through high debt, lack of work, loss of a job or even bankruptcy. That knock can become so overwhelmingly loud we can be deafened by it's pounding.
- Betrayal- through a trusted relationship where you allowed yourself to become vulnerable, or opened up your heart.
Whatever it is that has brought bitterness to your doorstep... you still have a choice to either open the door, or keep it shut. It's always your choice. When Bret and I were raising teenage daughter ... years ago ... I would constantly reinforce to them that life was about choices we make. We must not make choices based upon feelings; they will misdirect us more times than not. Yes, the Creator has instilled us with feelings, but they were never meant to run us. Our feelings, many times, can be wrapped in our flesh very tightly, if we're not careful. They can arise with visible outward symptoms which more times than not, display the inward condition of weakness in our spirit.
The Fruits of Bitterness
Our feelings are expressed by our words. If bitterness has been allowed to develop in us, then our words may become weapons. When we respond to a person or situation from feelings brought about by bitterness, we are assuming the right to vengeance that has never been justifiably given to us. According to Romans 12:19, vengeance belongs to God, not us. Bitterness can bring out the worst in us! Some of us, for example, have a condemning spirit when we are offended. Our attitudes can become extremely negative and we have a hard time finding anything good in anyone around us. That's usually when we notice others starting to back away from us until we find ourselves completely isolated and alone. For it is in that place that we have no reinforcements of other believers around to help us. None of us are Islands. We weren't made that way! God created us for relationship, not a solo run spaceship. :)
The Body of Christ
None of us are immune to the effects of sin. Where, besides Zoloft, can we turn to for help? When bitterness gets in and we feel we have lost all hope, could another brother or sister in Christ loan us some of theirs? The Bible says we are to part of the Body of Christ. When one part suffers, we all feel it. When one rejoices, we all join in. Are you doing your part? Are you trying to help mend the brokenness in someone else's life? Or are you adding to their brokenness because bitterness has also poisoned you? A body that is healed (emotionally) is better than one that is crippled (emotionally). Bitterness has a crippling effect.
It all boils down to this. If you allow the injection of bitterness to infiltrate your spiritual veins, it will cause a drug-induced overdose that can potentially cripple the body and in effect hinder your life and cause you to become hardened and closed off. Lay down your bitterness, give it to God, release it from your spirit, it only divides. Pick up forgiveness, it unifies and strengthens. Give God the chance to vindicate you. He is the best attorney for justice ... you'll ever have! :)
Here's a great prayer I wrote ...
(Become BETTER ... not BITTER)
Father, I know there is no place in my life for bitterness. Your grace makes it possible for me to be free from the effects of bitterness. You give light to my bitter soul. I ask You to heal my soul now in Jesus Name! I know in my heart that bitterness leads to envy and strife and You have called me to not be in bondage to those things. I release my bitterness to You and in return I receive Your love-grace and mercy to cover me and strengthen me.
Bitterness blinds me from the Truth. I choose to walk in Truth, not deception. In Your Word you show us how the heart knows it's own bitterness and the result is loneliness and pain. Help me to not allow bitterness to infect my soul, Lord. Whenever I am tempted to become bitter ... please lead me in Love to repentance. Uproot any bitter seeds that the enemy desires to cultivate in my life. Give me the sweetness of Your Spirit that surrounds me and guards me against bitterness.
I know that bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit and I have been sealed to the day of redemption. I commit to You that I will release all bitterness, wrath, anger and unforgiveness. Make me tenderhearted and forgiving, Father. Renew a steadfast spirit in me ... and search me and know my heart. Let Your Love and mercy hide me in the cleft of the Rock.
Be my fortress that I can run into and be safe. Station Your warring angels around me and watch over me and protect me, Lord. I receive Your goodness. I receive Your love. I embrace Your goodness and she that it would saturate my spirit. In Jesus Name ... Amen.