“For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” Acts 8:23 (ESV)
I am learning that when I compare my life to others…. a spirit of discontent, insecurity, or even a root of bitterness and jealousy will rise up and attack me. But when I look around my life and acknowledge all my blessings and all of His provisions, a thankful heart comes into sight and contentment grants me peace. I know I am blessed; I just have momentary lapses of memory.
People of the world say to me… “But your lost your teaching career, your dream house, your friends, your beloved dog, much of your financial savings, your health and yet you are happy? Why aren’t you bitter?”
I reply back, “It is because God has been good to me!!”
“What do you mean, good? He gave you a brain tumor! He stole your dreams and turned your life upside down.”
“Dear one, He has been good to me by preserving my life, restoring my health, giving me new friends and a new dog, new dreams that I would never had imagined on my own, a new and better job, and a cozy house with a huge place to garden. Above all, I have the promise of an eternal home and the love of a King.
You must choose how to view your life. A positive perspective will do wonders in diminishing negativity and pulling out roots of bitterness from the soil of your heart. The longer you let these sinful roots grow, the more painful and difficult it will be to extract them.
Joy is not found in possessions or in the things of this world. We need to lay up treasure in heaven and take time to thank God for His blessings and answered prayers, no matter how small. It is in knowing that we have an eternal home and a loving Father who wants to give us the very best, even though we may not understand all the whys and how comes. His ways are not our ways for they are beyond our reason and comprehension. However, by FAITH we must believe He is goodness. Faith is the shield from which we protect ourselves from the attacks of the enemy.
Contentment will blow the devil out of the water and interfere with his schemes to rob us of our peace. With contentment we can sing praises to our God and find joy in every day and every circumstance. There will be no fertile soil for bitterness if our hearts are content and overflowing with the peace that transcends all understanding. Sing praises to our God for He is good!
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:29 (NKJV)
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:6-11 (NKJV)
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31: (ESV)
“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” Hebrews 12:15 (ESV)
When going through a difficult time in life, it is easy to imagine that God has abandoned you. The shock of unimaginable circumstances, the pain and suffering that they may cause, the confusion and whys that fill your mind, could all lead you down a path of bitterness.
Hebrews 12:15 describes bitterness as an emotion that takes “root” in a person’s soul. Bitter feelings and attitudes may start out small and hardly noticeable at first. However, bitterness quickly grows into something very destructive and troublesome. It has the ability to defile many. Malice and spite are birthed from it, and could cause a spirit of ill will and a desire to do evil. It destroys spiritual joy.
Bitterness is a sign of a worldly attitude. Those who are bitter will often seek revenge, and unforgiveness usually has an iron grip on their heart. The bitter wronged will take on a stance of judge and jury, thus eliminating God’s right to correct His own children.
Frustration and anger, confusion and hopelessness will lend themselves to the development of a victim’s attitude or perspective. Constant complaints of, “Why Me?” will aggravate the sin of bitterness. We live in a fallen world and we are told that we will have tribulations in this life. God permits suffering for our own benefit. His own son was called to suffer incredible brutality. Trials are meant to transform us into the image of Christ. They are not enjoyable but they will come.
It is the grace of God with which we must fall upon when tragedy hits. Faithfulness to our Redeemer must be the spiritual fruit we put into practice during such trying times. It is with our faith, believing in a loving Creator, that we can accept the unacceptable and move past all trials sent our way.
If you have ever pulled weeds in a garden, you know that they can be incredibly difficult to remove. Some of the smallest weeds have deceptively long and deep roots. It takes a great deal of effort and strength to uproot them. If a garden is well maintained, weeds are identified and removed while still sprouts. The uprooting does not disturb the soil too much, and little or no damage is done to nearby plants.
However, if a weed is left to grow and is uprooted when fully mature, surrounding plants will be affected by its removal. They may be damaged or even themselves uprooted, due to their close proximity to the trespasser. Bitterness is this weed. It will certainly affect, uproot, and damage all nearby believers.
Bitterness is just like any other sin. It will affect our relationship with God and our relationship with those standing beside us. It will not remain hidden or buried. Eventually, it will sprout and flower. Seeds of bitterness are like helicopter seeds, they whirl themselves about and fly into the wind landing in many different locations.
If the entire root of bitterness is not removed, it will grow back. An act of forgiveness or the acceptance of the purposes and plans of God, will help in removing the weed completely. Don’t let the gall or impudence of bitterness rob you of your delight. Your delight comes from knowing that you have been Redeemed and saved.
Bitterness is a work of the flesh and His “Chosen Ones” should not take part in it’s evil. It causes anger, strife, rivalries, and dissensions. It hinders God’s request to be kind and compassionate. We are commanded to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Bitterness separates us for God and the fellowship of the Body of Christ. Lay down your bitterness and trust that God has a reason for your trial.
“For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” Acts 8:23 (ESV)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 (NIV)
There is so much sorrow and suffering in this world. Not one life manages to escape difficult times. In fact, good seasons and hard ones are just part of life’s journey. God never promised us ONLY a season of joy, or sorrow. In fact, maybe that is why we live on a planet that works through four different seasons.
It is never pleasant to work through struggles, tests of faith, and heartache. Such times require endurance and spiritual strength, but there is good that comes out of these challenges. It might take some reflection and healing before you can recognize and acknowledge the positive, but there is always something praiseworthy to be found in every circumstance. However, this by no means negates the pain that was birthed out of your difficulty.
When you suffer a loss, hardship, or pain due to the wrongs of another person, revenge may be on your mind. Anger might arise out of injustices. Lies or slander may have knocked you down and a need to get even may be fueling your day-to-day steps.
The Word tells us NOT to sin in our anger. Jesus felt righteous indignation and anger but He did not sin while angry. You and I have the freedom to express our angry feelings, but we do not have the right to be somebody’s judge and jury. God is just and it is His right to correct His children, who are His creation.
When anger, revenge, hate, and unforgiveness fills your every thought, you leave little or no space for goodness and blessings to enter your heart. The more you are able to release to God, the more room you will find in your heart for peace and rest. With peace comes contentment. Trusting God with the injustices of this world will free you up to live the life you have been called to live.
The life you have been given is a gift and should be lived as one full of love, endless forgiveness, eternal hope, and spiritual joy. You will have no more tears when you reach your eternal home and this life is but a flash and a spark. Release all bitterness and unrighteous anger. When you do, you will feel one hundred pounds lighter.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)
“ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)