Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Christ’s Power for Overcoming Bitterness

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.  –Ephesians 4:30-32 (KJV)

Last Sunday we were hit with an unusual amount of snow, which made road conditions hazardous enough to warrant cancelling church services.  Since I could not be in church I desired to hear a good sermon, so I watched a video someone had given me of David Ring, a well-known evangelist who has suffered from cerebral palsy since birth.  His sermon was on making lemonade out of lemons.  David’s positive attitude in the face of his physical disabilities is inspiring and his humor is infectious.  He said something in the message that made me smile. “I’m afraid to ask people how they’re doing.  I’m afraid they might tell me.”  

Have you had the experience of asking someone how he or she was doing and then you soon regretted asking?  You may have been in a good mood, but after listening to the other person’s moaning, groaning, and complaining your humor began to weaken.  Unfortunately, the world is filled with people so fixated on their own problems that they have lost the joy of living.  My late grandfather used to say, “Don’t bother complaining; your friends can’t help you and your enemies will be glad for it.”

The problem with taking a woe is me attitude is it leads to bitterness.  Bitter people are unhappy people who see life as perpetually sorrowful.  Bitter people also judge others as being of little value and in need of stern rebuke.  Rather than encourage they tear down, and instead of lifting our spirits they drain us.  Those suffering from a bitter spirit serve as examples to the spiritually discerning of what never to become. 

When I was a small boy I memorized a poem by an unknown author.  Allow me to share it from memory.

I dreamed death came the other night and Heaven’s gates swung wide.
An angel with a halo bright ushered me inside;
And there to my astonishment stood folks I’d judged and labeled,
As quite unfit, of little worth, and spiritually disabled.
Indignant words rose to my lips, but never were set free,
For every face showed stunned surprise,
As not one expected me.

My friends, life is too short and too precious to waste it on complaining and focusing on problems.  Jesus Christ came to give us the abundant life in Him.  This is a life so focused on Christ that His grace functioning in us overcomes the dark forces that are all around us.  We become like the psalmist in Psalm 23:5, who spoke of his cup running over.  There was none of this seeing life as a cup half full or half empty kind of outlook.  Instead, because of faith in God he saw his life as a cup overflowing.  What a wonderful attitude.  You can have it too through faith in Christ.  Do not allow bitterness to set in to your life.  Rise up and claim the joy Christ has promised.

God bless you today.