Someone has said that if a rattlesnake is cornered, it can become so mad and wild that it will accidentally bite itself with its’ deadly fangs. In the same way, when a person keeps hatred and resentment in his heart, he is often hurt by the poison of his own hatred. He thinks he is hurting his enemies by showing how upset he is, but really he is pushing the hurt deep inside himself.
What is bitterness? Bitterness is the sharp, resentful, hateful, or painful feelings we keep inside of us when we have been hurt. A bitter person will speak sharply to others and be critical, unforgiving, complaining, plotting, and grouchy. They may be depressed.
What causes bitterness? Bitterness comes out of us when we have not forgiven someone for a hurt. It happens when we keep remembering a time when we were in pain. It comes when we are hurt by what is DONE to us, by what is SAID about us, or by what is TAKEN from us.
A bitter person makes excuses for their grudges and may feel they have been hurt so much that they don’t have to forgive.
What can God do about my bitterness? Without God, when I am hurt I will become bitter and resentful. But with God I will be forgiving and loving towards those who hurt me.
What should I do about my bitterness? God wants us to be forgiving towards those who have wronged us. It's in the Bible, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
Jesus also had a part of His special prayer, known as the Lord’s Prayer, that talks about forgiveness. It's in the Bible, “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).
Jesus forgave those that spat on Him, hit Him, and killed Him. He asks us to forgive our enemies, too! Don’t wait for the other person to apologize, but, like Jesus did, offer forgiveness before they ask for it. Even while He was suffering on the cross Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV).
Instead of bitterness, what emotion should we have? The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NIV). God wants us to be loving and forgiving towards each other.
How can we get rid of bitterness? It's in the Bible, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) We must confess the sin of bitterness and accept God’s forgiveness.
God wants us to live peacefully with others. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV)
Choose not to be bitter. God would like for you to have a peaceful life. Today you can make a choice. It's in the Bible, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44, 45 NIV) Choose God’s peace and forgiveness.