(The following blog post is an excerpt from a recent Bible study I led on how to overcome bitterness. I pray it is an encouragement to you in overcoming this insidious condition, which steals our joy and clouds our outlook.)
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; -Hebrews 12:14, 15 (KJV)
This passage of the Bible in Hebrews 12 deals with the problem of bitterness, which is a condition that affects countless people. Bitterness is the result of losing the joy of living. Following this loss of joy is anger. The anger then overflows into a generally gloomy, sorrowful, and mean disposition. We call this bitterness. Are you a bitter person? Examine yourself and your attitudes and see if any of these traits look familiar.
Bitter people tear down rather than build up. The last person you should expect to build you up spiritually or emotionally is a bitter person. The reason is bitter people center their lives on their own problems and bleak outlook. You might say you are not feeling so well, and the bitter person might say, “Of course you’re not. Just look at you; you don’t eat right, you sleep too much, you’re a workaholic, and you don’t care about anyone but yourself.” Ouch! Such comments leave us looking for a quick exit.
Bitter people discourage rather than encourage. Do not expect bitter people to encourage you, because they will not. Instead, they will probably give you more reason to feel discouraged. A bitter person will typically shoot down any new idea you have. They will tell you it is a waste of time and will never work so do us all a big favor and do not even try, because you cannot do it. I am certain people told two young men from my hometown of Dayton, Ohio that airborne flight was impossible. However, Orville and Wilbur Wright kept at it until they flew an airplane. The rest, as they say, is history. These days, when someone comes to me and tells me of a dream of going to college, playing sports, or becoming a doctor or lawyer I encourage him or her to go after that dream as the Lord leads. Christ calls us to be the encouragers in the world.
Bitter people drain us rather than fill us up. Bitter people are exhausting to be around because they drain us emotionally and spiritually. They drain us because it is all about them and their problems. I am ever learning and developing the art (maybe it’s a gift) of listening and allowing others to tell their stories. I am certain I will have my chance. When someone needs to speak, let him or her speak. Allow people around you to verbalize their dreams, fears, and hopes. Do not expect a bitter person to do this.
Christ calls us to be encouragers, and we accomplish this through daily focusing on the Lord as we navigate our way through life’s problems. Be the light of Jesus Christ in the world. Fight the urge to become bitter. Come back tomorrow for more on this subject.
God bless you today.