Bitterness is when we hang onto a wrong suffered against us. It leads to feelings of anger and hatred. We develop a desire for revenge and seek to take justice into our own hands against the one who has offended us. Bitterness develops feelings of unforgiveness, which if left unchecked, can become strongholds in our lives. The enemy gains access to our lives through this sin and can cause all sorts of problems for us in our relationships.
As Christians seeking to live holy lives, we simply cannot allow bitterness to exist in our lives. Bitterness is sin and sin cannot dwell in God’s presence. We will not be able to obtain God’s peaceful protection if we are abiding in bitterness and unforgiveness. As if this was not enough reason to rid ourselves of all bitterness, the Bible says that it is contagious. Hebrews 12:14-15 encourages us to “watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble us, corrupting many”. As Christ-followers we paint a horrid image of Jesus to unbelievers and may repel them from God. Be on guard that having bitterness in our lives will spread to others like poison ivy. This must be uprooted immediately and completely.
Take a look at the path we will most certainly be on if we continue to allow bitter feelings to remain. We will develop feelings of anger, wrath, clamor, slander, and possible malice. It’s like a run-away train. We plow over anyone in our path with our negativity. And then we wonder why our witness has no affect.
Let’s take another look at what holding onto feelings of bitterness will do. When we do not forgive, how can we possibly expect God to forgive us? He won’t. His Word says so. Matthew 18:35 says “That’s what my Heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart”. Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
Some more verses to consider:
Colossians 3:13 “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Ephesians 4:2 ” Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!'”
Mark 11:25. “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in Heaven will forgive your sins too.”
The effects on our relationships are devastating. Others will avoid us and may even sever their relationship with us.
People sin against me every day. If I carry those offenses with me, I will be burdened with such a heavy load that I am not meant to carry. I am to give these to God who will throw them as far as the east is from the west. They are not to be brought up again, not forgotten, but paid for and the need for retaliation removed.
Hold everything up to the cross. In light of what Jesus went through, the full debt of sin that was paid, the enormous pain and suffering that He endured, how can we possibly say that we don’t forgive someone? How are their sins against us any worse than what Jesus went through?
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”