I have been considering lately how easy it is for bitterness to creep into the human heart-Christan as well as the unbelieving. Severe affliction is as likely to cause the growth of bitterness as it is to cause the growth of sweetness if we are not watchful of our souls.
The scripture is replete with warnings about bitterness and what it will do to us if it conquers us instead of us conquering it. No one on earth has had to battle this with more vigor than me-and I ask God daily to keep my heart soft and pliable in his hands-and to never let me be fooled that I am ok when I am not. I talk to my trusted friends and ask them to help me be sure I am doing ok in my battle against this sin-because it is a soul destroyer.
The Word of God has this to say in Ephesians: Eph 4:29-32 ESV Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In this passage we learn some really important things about bitterness (1) It grieves the Holy Spirit of God. (2) it is usually found traveling around in the heart with other bad things like anger-wrath-clamor-slander and malice(desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another).(3) God has given us the means to fight this sin as we put on kindness-tenderheartedness-forgiveness just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Bitterness in the heart of the Christian can be caused by many things. Here are three things that I know can make us vulnerable to having a bitterness takeover. (1) Not having an answer to the why questions. Honestly-we don't live very long in this world before we realize the answer to why things happen to us are rarely known this side of eternity. The whys generally don't bother me anymore but I do battle with the "how long" question a lot. Soreason (2) is this-unrelenting suffering that seems to have no end in view. Reason (3) is that someone has wounded or offended us in a grievous way-and maybe they don't even see it it or care. Here are just three reasons -there are dozens more but I want to be brief today. Many of you can relate to one or more of those 3-we have all been there or will be if we live long enough.
This warning is a stern one form Hebrews: Heb 12:14-15 ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
We see here that a root of bitterness can defile many -but that the Grace of God is a powerful weapon against bitterness ruling over us. As you meditate on the first passage you will note again that bitterness never dwells alone in the heart-it always has wicked company.
What is necessary in this battle is a constant intake of the Word of God-constant vigilant prayer-accountability to trusted advisers and a heart overflowing with God's sufficient Grace.