October 19, 2006
Encouragement for Today
“The Pain and Poison of Bitterness”
Zoe Elmore, Speaker Team Member
Ephesians 4:31-32, “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.” (NIV)
We’ve all experienced the unpleasantness of hurtful words or actions wrought against us by others. I know from personal experience how easy it can be to allow a root of bitterness to take hold of our heart, mind, and actions. In choosing bitterness we only add fuel to the fire, and we experience the pain and poison that bitterness brings.
Think of bitterness as a dangerous and powerful poison. Just like an acidic substance eating through the vessel in which it is contained, bitterness will eat though our joy, confidence, and testimony. When we allow bitterness to grow as a reaction to someone’s wrongdoing, we poison ourselves and spoil the testimony of God’s grace in our lives.
Bitterness is never a legitimate response for a child of God.
I’m reminded of the story of Joseph in Genesis chapter 37. Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of their younger brother that bitterness began to poison their hearts, minds, and even their behavior toward him. Their bitterness became so intense it caused them to consider doing harm to Joseph- even to the point of contemplating murder.
Although the details of our lives differ from those of Joseph’s brothers, the steps to bitterness and ruin are the same. The warning signs were clear: their jealousy and anger led them to hateful thoughts toward their brother, they rejected him, and finally deceitful and dangerous behavior consumed them. They quickly fell into the downward spiral of bitterness and suffered the pain and poison it brought.
After all the terrible things his brothers did to him, Joseph could have allowed a root of bitterness to take hold in his life. This would have destroyed his opportunity to be used by God to save a nation as well as his own family. In Genesis 50:20-21, Joseph declared his forgiveness toward his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." He reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Because Joseph chose to forgive, he experienced the presence and pleasure of God instead of the pain and poison of bitterness.
What unresolved anger are you holding on to? Whom do you avoid because of ill will? If you’re wiling to confess your sin, turn to God, and forgive your wrongdoer you too can be set free from bitterness.
STOP if you find yourself caught in the downward spiral of bitterness DROP to your knees and ask God for help. Then ROLL out forgiveness toward your wrongdoer. In doing so, you will be freed from the power, pain and poison of bitterness.
My Prayer for Today:
Heavenly Father, Please help me to choose forgiveness over bitterness. I don’t want to experience the pain and the separation from Your presence. Thank You for providing the perfect model of forgiveness, Your beloved Son Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The next time you’re tempted to allow bitterness to take root in your heart, mind or behavior:
Examine your heart, mind and behavior towards those who have hurt you.
Are you currently in the downward spiral of bitterness?
Would you be willing to forgive those who have hurt you in order to be freed from the power, pain and poison of bitterness?
Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (NIV)
Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (NIV)
Intimate Moments with God by select authors
Getting over the Blues by Leslie Vernick
What does the Bible Encourage Us to Think About? ETC Corner