If some of these signs are in you regularly, somewhere inside you is the root of bitterness. Do you understand why? We become bitter when we have expectations of how we think we should be treated, how we think things should go, or how we think things should be done. Do you see the key denominator here: we. Bitterness stems from selfishness. Philippians 2:3: to keep from being selfish, Scriptures say we must be humble; therefore the cause of selfishness is lack of humility—pride. We want it our way because we are the important one, the smart one, the talented one, the educated one, the blessed one. So often these feelings can begin with a seemingly justified event (death/illness of loved one, selfish spouse, unfair employer, bad financial situation, etc.). The attitude that event causes you to have during a difficult time in life sticks with you and shades everything in your life with that bitter twinge until it is a way of life about everything.
“Bitterness is drinking a poison and hoping someone else dies.” (Joanna Weaver) It seems Scriptures strongly agree with that analogy: Acts 8:23, Hebrews 12:15. Bitterness effects: 1) Marriages: how many marriages are in private turmoil everyday because both of you are too proud—to ever admit wrongdoing and apologize (always justify yourself instead), to not look the smartest (and have to have it your way), to not be in control (never be the one to give in first). Every little thing is a reason to be upset, to argue or disagree, must be your way, until bitterness that sneaks in causes you to be unhappy with everything about your spouse. You think they have the problem, they are always combative and argumentative, always demand their way—the reality is more times than not, each of you has learned to defend your selfish position rather than give in to the other. Self has become more important that the love and concern for your mate; you’re opponents rather than partners. You might not see, feel or believe it, but each feeds off the other until the relationship destructs. 2) Others: in your marriage, you become close enough to another person to allow the real you to come out; so whatever you are feeling, saying and doing in bitterness to your spouse is very possibly your attitude towards others secretly, you just don’t have the openness to express it. Once you begin to see the world through the shades of bitterness, you begin to see people in suspicion or doubt—often criticizing or gossiping about them, being angry with them openly or silently—for reasons that may be unfair or don’t exist at all—you are just overall unhappy or sarcastic with everyone around. AKA: Everyone gets on your nerves. This affects the joy and attitude of everyone that loves you and is around you. 3) Life: eventually you begin to be negative about everything that happens around you. You stay in a state of depression or anxiety; you lose your ability to properly deal with problems or make good judgments because of the negative slant in your thinking; you can become reclusive and unproductive to a large or small degree. 4) God: bitterness takes away any thankfulness you may have, because you never see the good in anything. You’re not thankful for the job, your wonderful family, your health—and because of this ‘unfairness’, you may secretly stay mad at God half of the time for His injustices; and when you’re not mad at Him, you’re not close to Him because you have grieved the very Spirit of God that lives in you: Ephesians 4:30-31. Many have walked so long in bitterness that you’ve completely forgotten the joy of walking in the Fruits of the Spirit; forgotten what it’s like to live to serve God and others no matter what the cost to self; many will never be filled with the Fruits of Gifts of the Spirit unless you deal with this poison.
How do you dig out of the bitterness? Well, since we’re using Tinkerbell as the sermon icon, we’ll use an acronym for what she ‘sprinkles’ on you if she wants you to fly: DUST. D) Discover that this is really a problem. Some have never recognized that you are looking at the world through the shades of bitterness; you though the rest of the world had the problem—and now that you’ve been given the evidence, you have to admit the reality of your sin. 1 Corinthians 11:31: this is hard because it means admitting that you have been living wrong for quite a while, and it’s easier to justify your ways than to admit to that lost time in life. U) Unhappy with where you are. Once you realize your sin, you have to reach a point that you hate what you have in you (repentance). Some have known for a long time that they are bitter, but feel justified and don’t want to change—so set in their ways they don’t know how. It’s not enough to know your sin, it’s not enough to be sad about it or wish you could change; repent means to change your mind—to turn from it and change direction. If you don’t hate what bitterness is doing to you, your loved ones, your life and your relationship with God, you are not truly ready to give it up and God is not truly ready to help you give it up. Psalm 36:2, Romans 12:9. S) Surrender to your own helplessness. Once you have a true desire to overcome sin, you must realize that you can’t overcome it without the help of the Spirit that lives in you. As long as you just try to beat sin with sheer determination, you will lose. Romans 7:22-25; you have to walk in constant love and communication with the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:16. Tell Him your true feelings to sin, your true attitude at all times; don’t try to hide it and act righteous (He knows the real you); share every temptation and wrong feeling with Him openly so He can help you through. Psalm 32:4-5. Proverbs 28:13. T) True to commands of Scripture. It doesn’t matter how much you sacrifice for Christ if you aren’t obedient to what He tells you to do. 1 Samuel 15:22, Proverbs 21:2-3. Two direct commands from Scripture will help overcome bitterness completely in our lives: #1: James 3:6, Matthew 15:11, James 3:2: (mature: teleios- mature in mental and moral character): make a commitment to God that you will purpose not to say one more bitter, negative or hurtful thing to anyone. Not try, or cut back, but not one more! This will take much of the poison out of your soul; make you feel and think more loving. It will disarm so many bad situations and arguments and negative feelings, especially in marriage. 90% of the arguments you think they start will end if you put them first and refuse to speak bitterly. Much of the love you think they quit showing will reappear when you stop speaking bitterly in the relationship. #2: Ephesians 4:23-24, Romans 12:2-3. Make a commitment to God that you will purposely not think one more bitter, negative or hurtful thing about anyone, and you will find a reason to be thankful always. [In other words: Tink was right! (After sprinkling you with pixie dust she says to ‘Tink Happy Thawts’)] Romans 12:3: “Do not think you are better than you are”—if bitterness gets it’s root in pride, doesn’t it make sense that it will be beaten in humility? The only way to stop bitterness is to realize that loving others, even through their faults, is more important than anything else. We are called to serve others, not the other way around. Those who seem least deserving in action are those we should most show love to—not bitterness. [Larissa & Ian Murphy]: Why is it that when we have someone who is spiritually or emotionally handicapped, and they don’t look or act well to us, that it’s alright to get bitter and give up on them? We should thank God that He chose us to love them through it and try to heal and help them as well.
Is your life tainted by the effects of bitterness? Is your relationship with God and others suffering? Stop playing games as a Christian while Satan makes you miserable: recognize your problem, hate your sin and what it’s doing, admit to God you are helpless to do it alone, and tell Him right now, with complete sincerity that you will not speak another bitter word, you will not think another bitter and selfish thought from this moment forward—none of this is possible without trusting God. Romans 8:28. If it happened, God allowed it. You can trust Him, or be bitter. See what kind of supernatural work He will do in your heart and in your life as you lean on Him in your convictions. “When all around my heart gives way…He then is all my hope and stay.”
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