In my years of being a Pastor, I have seen bitterness not only take over the lives of people, but also destroy, or even, worse take the lives of people. In this blog, I want to look closely at this word bitterness and hopefully provide understanding of its meaning. If we are going to be successful in fighting against an enemy, we need to understand as much about that enemy as possible. In my days as an athlete, I was taught that the best defense is a good offense.
You and I both have heard stories of people dying from an illness that the doctor could have diagnosed rather easily, if only they would have went to him/her earlier. To make this personal, my daddy fit right into that category. He died from a disease, prostate cancer, and his death could have been prevented if he had known sooner. We need to be as vigilant in diagnosing the symptoms of bitterness because they are destroying our lives and the lives of others.
In the New Testament, the word bitterness means: "extreme wickedness; a bitter root that produces bitter fruit". It also carries a meaning of hatred. Just the mention of bitterness has a very sinful and spiteful aspect to it. In some cases, it is a seemingly harmless shrub that begins to grow its bitter roots underneath the fertile ground of our heart. Often, the victim feels justified feeling that way but, eventually, it will produce bitter fruit. Some of the meanings in your Websters' dictionary are "having a sharp or often unpleasant taste; causing or showing sorrow, discomfort, or pain; sharp and disagreeable; harsh; severe; piercing characterized by strong feelings of hatred, resentment, and cynicism". The individual that has permitted the root of bitterness to bind them (and note I used the word permitted intentionally because it cannot overtake you without permission), has experienced something that has placed an unpleasant taste in their mouth. This particular thing has brought discomfort and pain to life.
If you allow bitterness to grow in your life, you must also understand what you are embracing. If one allows yourself to kiss the devil, you must also realize that his kiss will suck the life from you and probably suck every ounce of joy out of you as well. Bitterness will change the way you look at life and the way you live. Once a person gives into bitterness, it leaves an aftertaste that is not easily removed. Bitterness usually starts with an offense which leads to hurt, anger, and finally bitterness. Once a person becomes bitter, they become contagious and will spread the disease to others. If you allow this disease to come into your life, you will be inviting sorrow and pain to dwell in your heart.
Bitterness is self-induced misery. It has been said by H. Fosdick: "he who chooses the beginning of the road, chooses the place that it leads." A bitter person is also a contentious person. The weight of bitterness is a heavy load to carry, but the choice is made each day by thousands of people to pick it up and go on with it, adjusting each step of the way so that it seems like it gets easier to carry. Just like in the natural, when you've been heavy for a long time and you are finally able to lose the weight, you suddenly realize how much effort it took for you to carry all that extra weight around. It became normal for you to feel that way (as bad as it was) even though it was taking extra labor and causing a whole lot of underlying damage that you couldn't see standing in the mirror.
The wounds of bitterness are never allowed to heal because in order for healing to take place the bitter person must forgive the offender, whether or not the offender asks for forgiveness or is remorseful for what he or she did or did not do. So, the bitter person daily picks up this load and has salt constantly poured on the wound. Eventually, the way of bitterness becomes the only life that they know. The bitter person feels as if they have a justifiable right for their bitterness and, therefore, they may never let it go. The course of bitterness will imprison even the strongest person. In choosing bitterness, it is like burning down your house to kill a mouse. You know that is a shame.
Pastor Earl Goings shares his thoughts on everyday concerns.
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