Ever had a time in your life when you got so offended that you were cringing with hateful emotions? Perhaps someone shamed you in public or a younger sibling disrespected you in front of friends with whom you hold good reputation? Or perhaps you are denied something – a material thing that you really wanted, or a relationship you were trying so hard to pursue. Unexpected things in life can trigger anger which can lead to hate – which can lead to bitterness.
The Danger of Bitterness
Almost all murders that have happened in our world today is a result of unchecked anger which planted seeds of bitterness. This bitterness then grew its roots and tightly grasped into its host’s heart and soul – sucking out any good that the host could have done in its relationships with other people.
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” - 1 John 3:15
The root of a plant is something that is usually unseen. It is below the surface of the ground it is on. The root is an anchor for the plant – it enables the plant to take shape and grow. Bitterness has been attributed to a root. It goes deeper and deeper into your heart and emotions. And the more you try to weed it out, the harder it is and the more painful.
The plant will grow thorns in your heart – whenever people try to get closer to you, your bitterness will wound them.
Bitterness is a parasite that rots your heart – but the worst part is, it eats up other relationships too.
Bitterness needs two things to grow:
- A hurting host
Results of Bitterness
When you let bitterness grow and establish its roots in you, the plant that results can vary – from murder, slander, gossip, hatred, anger, impatience, divorce, irateness, death, sadness, sickness, depression, etc… Whatever the resulting plant is, it will consequently affect other relationships.
You don’t know it, but bitterness is an act of holding on to a hurt and anger until it has a hold on you. No one wants anything to have a hold on them intentionally – but you won’t recognize that it’s exactly what bitterness is already doing to you.
The Core of Bitterness
Bitterness needs special kinds of soil to grow on. And these can be identified as unforgiveness, being withdrawn, sulking, complaining, grumbling, having a critical spirit, ingratitude, absence of peace and joy, and other forms of self-centeredness. Having these things in your life prepares the way for bitterness to take root. You have to change your heart to good soil in order for you to avoid bearing bitter fruit – and bear good ones.
Consequently, if you allow bitterness to take root, you will lose intimacy with the Lord – making your bitterness an idol. And you will be unable to bear good fruit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” - Galations 5:22-23
As a Christian, we are called to bear good fruit. Meaning, you have to take away bitterness in you.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” - Jeremiah 17:7-8
“But whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” - Psalm 1:2-3
- Surrender to God’s sovereignty. Bitterness drives you to your own desire to be bitter without surrender to anyone.
- Ask for forgiveness from God.
- Forgive the offender.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” - 1 Peter 2:23
Jesus surrendered to God’s sovereignty. He did not harbor bitterness towards the people. He even asked God to forgive them – meaning He also forgave them. He did not allow even one inch of bitterness to take root in His heart.
Do not allow bitterness to take root and hold you. Free yourself. Surrender to God and forgive.