Bitterness {Let’s Talk About It}

There are topics that are easy to write about. Posts that form themselves on the screen with minimal effort. Then there are those that you fight to get out. Words that challenge you every single day, yet it’s easier to not talk about them. It’s easier to put them away and pretend they don’t exist.

Today, let’s not pretend. Let’s pinpoint and let’s deal with it.

Hebrews 12:15 tells us about a “poisonous root of bitterness that grows up to trouble us”.  If we’re not careful, it sinks its roots deep into our souls contaminating everything we touch.


Background Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via Compfight cc

It Can Be Obsessive

Haman was a wicked man. He wanted to wipe out the Jewish population. So obsessive was his bitterness that he couldn’t even see  Mordecai (a jew) without boiling over in anger. Esther 5:9, “Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious.”

What can we learn from this? 

  • Hatred and bitterness do not allow us to enjoy the blessings around us.
  • If someone is constantly on our minds (and not in a good way), it’s time to check for bitterness roots.
  • If the mention of someone’s name stirs up feelings of anger, (Yep. You guessed it.) It’s time to check for bitterness roots.
  • Confess bitterness as a sin.
  • You can’t ignore it. You can’t hide it. You can’t superficially remove it.
  • Pull it from the roots.

If Not Removed, Can Be Dangerous

“Why are you so angry Cain? Why has your countenance fallen? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, watch out! Sin is crouching at your door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

What can we learn from this?

  • God always warns us of danger up ahead.
  • Bitterness opens up a door to the enemy.
  • Cain’s bitterness and anger with his brother Abel lead to murder.
  • We must subdue the sin that wants to take over. We master it or it becomes our master.

Removing Bitterness

One great example of a bitter soul was Esau. He was so angry (and rightfully so) at his brother Jacob, for stealing his inheritance, he wanted to kill him. Years later when Jacob was coming back to town, he found a much different version of his brother. Genesis 33: 1-11 tells us that Esau forgave his brother’s deceit and greeted him with open arms.

What can we learn from this? 

  • Don’t hide your feelings. Express them honestly to God. He already knows you’re dealing with them.
  • Repent.
  • Forgive those who’ve wronged you. In the same way you receive God’s forgiveness freely, extend it freely.
  • Be content with what you have. In Esau’s case, something was dishonestly taken from him. When this happens to us, can we trust that God is able to meet all our needs?

Don’t Let It Steal Your Faith

Noemi was bitter because of her situation. Her husband and two sons died. She was of old age and she was in a foreign land. It’s easy to understand why she said, “Call me Mara”, which means bitterness. However, in spite of her bitter heart, she found the faith to believe God for Ruth. She praised Him when Boaz showed Ruth his kindness (Ruth 2:19-20).

What can we learn from this? 

Situations in our lives may cause the sting of bitterness. If we can remember to Express (our sin to God), Repent, Forgive, and Be Content, we will be able to rejoice when others are blessed.  Don’t allow bitterness to rob you of your faith.

Turn It Into Joy

The prodigal son took his portion of the inheritance and left the father’s house. After squandering his wealth and finding himself eating with the pigs in a pig pen, he came to himself and decided to go back to his father’s house. His dad had every right to be bitter. His son left without a care in the world with no regard for the love, care, and protection of the father. The father forgave and bitterness turned to joy when he received his son with open arms.

What can we learn from this? 

  • Forgiveness has the power to change bitterness to joy.

Know The Character Of God

Bitterness is one of those emotions that catches us off guard. We don’t even realize it’s there until we start moping around like Cain, walking bitter like Noemi, find ourselves obsessive like Haman, or hurt like the father whose son left him.

We don’t sit around thinking, “Oh, I want to be bitter today.” We simply find that the issues of life present themselves and if not dealt with, the root of bitterness begins to grow.

It can be discouraging to find ourselves dealing with such an ugly emotion. Personally, it’s very difficult for me to function when I am feeling such things. That’s when I remember the character of God. He hates sin, but he loves me. I absolutely love the way the Psalmist put it.

“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant- I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever… But as for me, how good it is to be near God!” (Psalm 73: 21-28)

Perhaps you didn’t even know you were dealing with bitterness. Perhaps you couldn’t even put a name to what was stirring up inside of you. If you find yourself relating to Cain, Noemi, Haman, or Esau’s stories, I encourage you to find that quiet place where you can sit with God. Don’t allow the enemy to lie to you. God is not pushing you away because you feel bitterness and anger. Instead, he is leading you in truth. He is showing you the condition of your heart. You still belong to him!

Q?: Have you found yourself dealing with bitterness? If so, how have you dealt with it? Share by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page. I want to hear from you. 

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Posted on August 14, 2013, in 2013 {Live Life Fully Committed} Challenge, DEVOTIONALS, LIFE, LIFE LESSONS, SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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