Bitterness is a poison to our soul. It kills slowly, the effects run deep, and it attacks the heart. Our hearts need to be guarded against bitterness because, “everything you do flows from [the heart].” (Proverbs 4:23) If we allow bitterness to control us and gnaw at our hearts, it will continue to fester. What we do (because of our bitterness) will not benefit us, or anyone. The only one who really suffers from your bitterness is you. Yes, it can cause separations in relationships, and people may fall victim to your actions, but they can remove themselves (for the most part) from you. You cannot leave you.
… Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a chance. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14)
For me, bitterness is a struggle. I take a lot of things to heart and at times I can become easily agitated, but these verses really challenge me. Firstly that above all else I am called to love. Bitterness takes away my ability to love (the person whom I am bitter toward). This is not a good thing because John writes that, “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Yikes! I do not want to be in that place. Daily, there needs to be a conscious effort to say, okay God I am really hurt by the things that have happened, help me to forgive and to love them. Help me to rely on you and your purpose for me.
Secondly, I don’t want to allow the devil to gain a foothold in my life. I want to be malleable, so that God can mold me and work with me; I want to be able to move forward, so I can fulfill the purpose that he has given me. I do not want to be held in place by my bitterness.
A mental image I get whenever I think of bitterness is someone who decides to stab themself in the leg to get back at another person. The only one who feels hurt is you. Others may recognize your pain, and where some may see if you are all right, many will walk past.
I believe that (one of the reasons) God calls us to love each other is because he knew we needed something to protect our hearts. Love grows bonds, unity, and peace. Bitterness guarantees hurt, division, and destruction. “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
Bitterness is not a characteristic of someone who wants to be Christ-like. What separates us from anyone else if we choose to only show love and kindness to those who reciprocate? Nothing. (Luke 6:32-33)
God’s antidote to bitterness is love (merciful love) and forgiveness. Letting go of our feelings, surrendering them to God, knowing that he has a purpose for you. The antidote is not a one-time drink and you’ll be better, sometimes it is easier than others, but there are many times where we have to take the antidote over and over.
“Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)