Wednesday, December 7, 2011
One of the sins I've struggled with a lot during my life has been bitterness (especially in my early 20's). It always seems to creep up in the weirdest of circumstances, and whether we realize it or not, it's always detrimental. Like any sin, it gives a certain amount of satisfaction for a time, but that satisfaction is always selfish. In many ways and in my opinion, it can almost be deemed a "gateway drug" to selfishness. I'm pretty sure we've all experienced it at one time or another.
I'm not familiar with the following site so I can't speak on everything that it may contain, but I did find a chart where the person went on to explain some of the results of harboring bitterness. Though some of their page appears to give some self-serving advice (note the self esteem portion below), I think that overall these are helpful. They gave the following:
- Bitterness is antisocial. A bitter person is selfish, inconsiderate of others, withdrawn from society, indifferent or adverse to conformity with conventional standards of social behavior. Even strangers avoid bitter people, Prov. 14:10. No one is happy around bitter people.
- Bitterness is a sign of the fragmented life, Jer. 2:19.
- A bitter person rejects Bible teaching. James 3:14, "But if you have bitter jealousy and strife, stop being arrogant and lying against the truth."
- Bitterness shows total lack of grace orientation. A bitter person does not understand the Plan of God, let alone how it affects individuals. In Job. 9:17-18, Job's complaint against God. "Why does God let this happen to me", is a statement of bitterness.
- Bitterness accompanies the sin unto death, Job. 21:25.
- Bitterness motivates complaining, Job 7:11, 10:1. People who habitually complain are bitter people; they have no self esteem.
- Bitterness motivates gossip, Psalm 64:3
- Bitterness fragments other peoples lives. Heb 12:15, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled.
- Bitterness is self induced misery, and it produces chain sinning. Bitterness is misery to others in the periphery. But two wrongs never make a right. You cannot build your happiness on someone else's unhappiness.
What does God say to do with bitterness? In short, "Get Rid of It!" (Eph. 4:31) The older I get, the more I realize why God is so adamant about putting off this sin. It really does paralyze you in ways that you can't even realize without the Holy Spirit giving you knowledge of it. Instead of working for the good of others, it causes you to focus your work on what you believe is good for yourself.
The good news is that Jesus Christ died for even this sin. He was on the Cross to atone for this sin for everyone who believes. It's not about ceasing to struggle against this sin in this life because you've overcome it. It's about struggling against it because you love your Savior more than you love your temporal bitterness against others. Christ isn't bitter towards me even though I sin against Him. He gave His life for mine. The least we can do is make every effort to cast off bitterness against others for His sake.