Do you know anyone who is bitter?
Perhaps the bitter person that you know has chosen that sordid emotion because of his or her childhood … or due to a failed marriage.
Some people are bitter because of the economy … or because of the way their children turned out … or because someone that they loved dearly died too soon.
Some people mistakenly believe that they have a right to be bitter just because life has thrown them a curve ball or two.
H-m-m-m … “ a right to be bitter” …
Wow! Is that a sad way to live, or what?!
I know … I know … if you are one of those people who are ferociously treading water in the Sea of Bitterness … you might accuse me of not understanding your justifiable right to live a bitter life.
I guess that it’s true … I might not understand or have experienced your particular pain … but it is also true that we all have gone through excruciating life circumstances that have attempted to toss us into that great, angry and consuming sea.
However, what I have learned in my life’s journey is that bitterness is actually a by-product of self-centeredness.
O.K. … I will be quiet for a minute while you process that thought.
Bitterness is a by-product of self-centeredness.
If you have placed yourself in the center of your life, then you will perpetually process pain through a spirit of offense.
You will be offended when your husband doesn’t take out the trash.
You will be offended when your kids don’t call you.
You will be offended when the pastor doesn’t acknowledge your giving.
You will be offended when the talking media heads don’t agree with your political opinions.
You will be offended when you don’t get the raise or the promotion.
I am determined to raise up a generation of unoffendable women!
“God will see to it that we are in circumstances best designed by His sovereign love to give us opportunities to bear fruit for Him.” – Elisabeth Elliot
Oh! How I long to be a fruit-bearing Christian in all seasons and in all circumstances. When someone takes a bit out of me … I want kindness and patience to come dripping out!
I deeply desire to exhibit love when everyone else is pontificating opinion.
It is my heart-felt yearning to respond with joy when met with unbelievably discouraging circumstances.
The truth is this, my friend … bitterness hurts no one but yourself.
Bitterness doesn’t change your circumstances but it does change you. It changes you from a beautiful, caring person into an ugly shadow of your former self.
There is no other way to say it … bitterness is ugly and it only creates ugly.
“I will wander about all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.” – Isaiah 38:15b
If you dip your unsuspecting toe into the Sea of Bitterness, the riptide will quickly suck you in and you will lose all direction in life.
Bitter people never walk in their destiny … they are never an agent of encouragement … and a bitter person often squanders a formerly incredible life while thrashing around and wrongly believing that bitterness is their life jacket.
Bitterness is not a life jacket … it is a weight of iron that is guaranteed to drown you.
So … as believers in Jesus Christ … what should we do when life has squashed our dreams and when friends and family members have walked away?
What should we do with anger and human pain?
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” – Ephesians 4:31
You and I need to determine that bitterness is not an option! It is not one of the emotions that we are allowed to embrace while living in the glorious warzone of life.
Bitterness is not on your long list or on your short list.
For you and for me … bitterness has ceased to exist because of Jesus.
“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” – Hebrews 12:15
The grace of God has uprooted every seedling of bitterness in our hearts, which is part of the miracle that being a Christian enables! What a wonderful possibility!
Grace has taken away bitterness and has planted mercy and grace in its place.
Bitterness is a weed of carnal, fleshly living while mercy and grace are exquisite flowers that are planted in your life in order to gather a crowd!
Bitterness gathers a crowd, too, but the problem is that this particular mob has gathered to see the vicious fighting that is going on. And, inevitably, they will be drawn in to the jealousy, anger and gossip that will ensue.
Not my kind of crowd …
O.K. … now I am going to tell you something that you are going to have to think about and pray about before you react to it. Are you ready? Take a slow, deep breath and let’s move ahead …
I heard someone say recently that the way you treat me and what you think of me is not my business.
This person went on to say that my only business is how I treat you.
Wow! Powerful stuff, right?!!
My sole business in life is making sure that I respond with love, forgiveness and joy to every event, every person and every circumstance.
The one thing that I am called to do above all others is to trust my life into the hands of the One who knows me best and loves me most.
I can trust Him in the storm and in the sunshine.
I can forgive you regardless of your words … your actions … or your accusations.
I can because He did.
I refuse to be caught in the riptide of that emotion known as “bitterness” and I choose to love … to exhibit mercy … and to show compassion.
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!