The blight of bitterness is an awful thing. It doesn’t just make us miserable, it is terribly destructive. Yet many act as though it is no big deal and dismiss it with the wave of a hand. Watching people try to deny or hide bitterness would be funny were it not so serious. They don’t seem to realize that bitterness colors every area of their life.
The characteristics of bitterness are many, such as sourness, moodiness, rudeness, ingratitude, complaining, impatience, anger, holding grudges, evil speaking, etc. These are things that do not go unnoticed for very long. It is common to see folks with these problems and wonder what’s wrong with them–the answer is “bitterness”. They are so burdened by bitterness that they can’t enjoy the beauty of a sunset, the laughter of a child, or the embrace of a loved one. Nothing makes them happy.
In the battle against bitterness it helps to consider the cause—things such as resentment toward God or man for failing to fulfill our expectations, unresolved anger, unforgiveness, etc. Although we would like to blame someone else, the fact is, it is our sin that causes us to get bitter. We might be bitter toward them but it is because of us. People can and will mistreat you, but they cannot make you bitter–that is a choice you alone can make.
It also helps us to consider the consequences— the harm it does. If you don’t see the danger you won’t see the problem, nor take any corrective measures to fix it, and things will go from bad to worse. The Greek word translated “bitterness” was used to describe plants that produced fruit that was poisonous and inedible. In addition to making us miserable, bitterness causes us to treat others as Satan treats us. We become a tool in his workshop! Thus, we are useless to God.
What a horrible way to spend your life! And some have been in that sad state for years, and it is there for all to see. For others it is a root, underground and hidden from view. However, unless dealt with, it will grow and grow until it springs up. Consequently we should deal with it as soon as possible. The longer we linger the greater the danger. Some are so blinded and bound by bitterness that they can’t hardly function–all because they delayed in dealing with it.
So what is the cure? How can we rid ourselves of this sad situation? The late Adrian Rogers suggested these three things:
1. Let God reveal it– Ps. 139:23-24
2. Let grace remove it– Heb. 12:15
3. Let good replace it– Heb. 12:14
That is good advice. This is not a terminal illness that can’t be cured. Bitterness is something we can do something about. There is no need for any of us to enslaved by such a dreadful thing. We have a choice. We can choose to get bitter or choose to get better.