Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to look at the subject of bitterness. Bitterness, as defined in Websterís Dictionary, is causing or showing sorrow, discomfort, or pain; grievous, characterized by strong feelings of hatred, resentment, cynicism, etc. The Greek word used in the Bible to describe bitterness is "pikria" which means acridity, especially poison.
How fitting these definitions are when we consider how bitterness affects the individual and those around the person that is bitter. Have you ever bitten into a seed of a fruit or something else that has a bitter taste? Do you remember how it affected you? How even though that which you were eating may have been juicy and even sweet, the bitterness spread throughout your mouth and overpowered the good taste, ruining that, which once tasted good to you. And how that bitter taste remained in your mouth and was difficult to get rid of.
Bitterness of heart and soul are just like this. Any number of different reasons can cause bitterness. Relationships gone sour, longings and desires not achieved in ones life, mistreatment by others in our life either actual or imagined, not receiving the recognition we think that is due us in school or work, to name just a few.
Bitterness is to the heart and soul what cancer is to the body. It will eventually bring complete destruction if not treated. Over the years in work and ministry I have had numerous occasions to talk to people that have bitterness in their heart. Like biting into that bitter seed, bitterness has permeated their entire life. Anything that is or could be pleasant in their life has been overcome by the bitterness that they have in their heart. It is tragic, to say the least, a terrible way to live. Bitterness is a very strong feeling and if not dealt with, will like cancer consume the person. It will become the controlling factor in oneís life. Everything that comes into your life will be measured by the bitterness that is within your heart.
Now in saying all of this, Iím not being insensitive to what you may have gone through in life. I know people go through all kinds of genuine hurts and pains in this life that are totally unfair. Things that no one should ever have to experience. There are people that have been dealt a pretty raw deal in life. There is plenty to be angry and bitter about as we see all of the injustices in our world today. But if we are not careful, bitterness can and will take a hold on our heart and that will become the ruling factor of our life.
There are many instances in the Bible where people became bitter over lifeís events. Such a one is found in Acts 8:9-23, "But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God." And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs, which were done. Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
This man Simon had great notoriety in the community before the Gospel came. When people turned to faith in Jesus Christ and began to fear God rather than Simon, he became angry and jealous. Bitterness set in and poisoned his heart. In an attempt to regain the popularity that he once had he sought to buy the power that God gives to His servants, thus receiving the rebuke of Peter.
If anyone had a reason to be bitter it would be Jesus Christ the Lord. Nearly 2,000 years ago he left Heaven took on the form of a man inorder to save man from his sins. How was Jesus treated? He was despised and rejected by the very ones He came to save. He was mocked and ridiculed, rejected by His own family, falsely accused, deserted by His closest friends, and betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by another, and ultimately crucified. But He did not allow bitterness to be the controlling factor in His life. Rather it was and still is love that controls His life. We read in 1 John 4:16, "God is love." And in 1 John 3:16, "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us."
This same great love that God has for us, He will put within your heart if you let Him. It is far better to go through this life having the love of God be the controlling factor rather than bitterness.
Listen to what the Scriptures admonishes us to do. In Ephesians 4:30-32, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." And in Hebrews 12:14-15, " Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled."
Listen precious people; donít let bitterness rule in your heart. We are told to diligently guard our heart, for out of it flow the issues of life. Speaking of the heart, we are told in James 3:11-14, "Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth."
God desires food for your life. Cry out to Him and ask Him to come into your heart and change it. To cast out the bitterness and fill you with His love. He is faithful, trust Him today.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine