Nothing can damage family relationships more than bitterness. At one time or another, someone inside our family has hurt us. Perhaps you are angry about the hurt someone has caused you right now. We can let just about anything upset us to the point of becoming bitter. It is often something that starts off small and grows bigger and bigger. Before long bitterness can consume everything in our life – destroying our happiness. Let’s take a few moments to see what the Bible says about how to have victory over what can become a very real problem in our life.
Hebrews 12.15 – bitterness is described as a root. You can’t see a root from the surface – it is deep down, under the ground. Unfortunately, many seek to bury their pain deep in their heart. Instead of being expunged, the resentment we harbor can eventually contaminate everything that comes out of us. Until we remove the root of bitterness, we will never be able to change the fruit. What are some ways to know if bitterness has invaded your heart?
- Is there a family member I cannot stand to be around? Avoid at all costs?
- Is there someone you cannot see any good in?
- Is there a temptation to think and speak evil of them?
Concerning this, Solomon said, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy,” Proverbs 14.10. What are some keys to overcoming bitterness?
We must be honest with ourself. We need to examine what comes out of us. Jesus taught that a contaminated spring cannot produce fresh water, John 7.38. Look for warning signs. If they are there, do not deny it. Pretending that it is not there will lead to greater problems down the line. Start with yourself. Ask, “Have I done anything to contribute to the person’s offensive behavior?” When we acknowledge its presence, we can begin to work toward letting go, moving toward forgiveness, and ideally, toward reconciliation. Justifying our feelings will not accomplish anything toward change. Be willing to take the first step and admit that there is a problem.
Resolve the source of bitterness. Jesus said, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift,” Matthew 5.23-24. Don’t hold it in. Don’t complain to others about the person you have a problem with. Go to the person, tactfully, in a spirit of love, Ephesians 4.32. If we harbor resentment, it opens the door to bitterness.
Pray about it. Paul gives us great advice in Philippians 4.6. Pray for forbearance, patience, peace, and tenderheartedness. And, pray for the person with whom you are bitter.
Repent of sinful behavior. If you have allowed bitterness to invade your heart, this is a matter that needs to be taken before God and repented of. If we are bitter, we have fallen short. This is not a badge of honor. It is something that will keep us out of heaven.
There is never justification for the Christian to be filled with bitterness. Don’t seek to justify, belittle, deny, or ignore it. “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,’” Hebrews 3.14-15.
- Let Go of the Hurt
- Confronting Family Bitterness
- Don't Poison Your Soul
- 12/7/11 - Lesson 1 - Satan's Victory Over Cain