Bitterness -(Anger, Hatred, Joylessness)
1. Dangers Of Bitterness
Why is it important to resist bitterness?
14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.
17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God.
Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison. (Hebrews 12:15)
Bitterness will affect others.
Like a small root that grows into a great tree, bitterness springs up in our heart and overshadows even our deepest Christian relationships.
A "bitter root" comes when we allow disappointment to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts.
Bitterness brings with it jealousy, dissension, and immorality.
When the Holy Spirit fills us, however, he can heal the hurt that causes bitterness.
1 John 3:11-24
11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them.
Bitterness undermines our relationship with God.
John uses Jesus' words that whoever hates another person is a murderer at heart (Matthew 5:21-22).
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward compliance alone is not enough.
Bitterness against someone who has wronged you is an evil cancer within you and will eventually destroy you.
Don't let a "bitter root" (Hebrews 12:15) grow in you or your church.
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
2. Avoid Bitterness
How can we keep bitterness from taking root?
1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two maidservants.
2 He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.
3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. "Who are these with you?" he asked. Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant."
6 Then the maidservants and their children approached and bowed down.
7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.
8 Esau asked, "What do you mean by all these droves I met?" "To find favor in your eyes, my lord," he said.
9 But Esau said, "I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself."
10 "No, please!" said Jacob. "If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.
11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need." And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him affectionately and kissed him.
Both of them were in tears. (Genesis 33:4)
Bitterness doesn't leave by itself.
It is refreshing to see Esau's change of heart when the two brothers meet again.
The bitterness over losing his birthright and blessing
29-34) seems gone.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.
30 He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom.)
31 Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright."
32 "Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?"
33 But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
Instead, Esau was content with what he had.
Jacob even exclaimed how great it was to see his brother obviously pleased with him.
Life can bring us some bad situations.
We can feel cheated, as Esau did, but we don't have to remain bitter.
We can remove bitterness from our life by honestly expressing our feelings to God, forgiving those who have wronged us, and being content with what we have.
11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons.
12 The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'
20 So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.
24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.
27 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31 "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"
(Parable of Lost son)
KEY BIBLE VERSE: We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!
Bitterness can be removed by forgiveness.
In the story of the lost son, the father's response is contrasted with the older brother's.
The father forgave because he was filled with love.
The older son refused to forgive because he was bitter about the injustice of it all.
His resentment rendered him just as lost to the father's love as his younger brother had been.
Don't let anything keep you from forgiving others.
If you are refusing to forgive people, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to experience joy and share it with others.
Make your joy grow: forgive somebody who has hurt you.
Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.