Bitterness is the closest thing I know to putting a curse on yourself. I don’t know how many times the word bitterness shows up in the Old Testament but it is often and it is always bad news.
Have you ever known anyone who was bitter? Really fun to be around aren’t they? I have had the occasion to be around more than a few.
The army has a built-in system for creating bitterness. It is called passover. That’s not Jewish Passover – it’s promotion passover. It typically happens from captain to major or from major to lieutenant colonel.
If you get passed over twice you get to be a civilian. These guys generally are bitter and not very productive, which is probably why they got passed over in the first place.
There are certainly lots of other places to see bitter folks. Folks who have been divorced and left for another. Being financially bereft of financial resources commonly causes bitterness.
People who have lost their jobs for what they feel are unfair reasons and cannot find employment and then can’t adequately care for their families are sometimes bitter.
Abuse victims are very often bitter toward their abuser for years unless they seek counseling to deal with all their stored-up anger and resentment.
So, you see, bitterness is a widespread problem, and we have just touched the surface. Paul, in speaking to the Christians in Ephesus gave this exhortation. Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Just think what an amazing difference it would make in the church today if just this one verse were followed. I repeat. Just this one verse.
Read it again and again and again. Can you hear yourself violating any part of this verse? Then stop right here – pray and ask God to give you the grace to let Him be all these things through you the next time you are in church or the ladies Bible study or the home group.
I ask you what good is your Bible to you, and what good is all your Bible study if you don’t take one simple verse like this and apply it to your life, not someone else.
This next verse is a bit of a stickler for us because it gets into the edges of church operation that we don’t talk about in the days of the mega church. Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…”
As sure as I am sitting behind this computer I have seen this happen more than once, in more than one church. The only problem I see is that there is no clear direction as to how to handle these folks. I have found too often that is the case where this problem exists.
People with a root of bitterness who will not respond to church leadership are often bound to cause trouble and may need to be asked to find another place to worship.
This is often a difficult step for the church leadership to take. There is the concern that they will take friends with them. Yes, they likely will take those that they have already embittered.