How to Respond to Bitterness?

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.

Romans 12:19

When I turn on the television, I see our world as a battlefield. Not only are people being harmed, but community businesses are burning. Perhaps, you have heard the phrase, no man is an island. Our entire society suffers when one of its members is mistreated or if a member does wrong.

Every misstep brings dishonour to God, our communities, and even our families. Every act of violence removes our sense of safety, and every dishonest word hardens us against each other. We should all be concerned about evil done anywhere in the world and respond by calling out to God when it occurs (Jones, H. M.A.).

Like a concerned citizen, I’m eager to protect the community. My big sister attitude rears up and I look out for my brothers and sisters in Christ. But we should not yield to bitterness, resentment, or revenge.

Bitterness is anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly. If we do not deal with anger quickly, it will morph into intense animosity and result in harm to the person or others.

Resentment can be defined as bitter indignation at being treated unfairly. It stems from unresolved anger too and as my favorite Star Wars movie says, “It leads to the dark side.”

Don’t turn your back on anger and attempt to hide it within your mind. Did you know when we shut our eyes to a problem, we are actually allowing it to have a hold on us?

Silence is an answer. While we are trying to keep ourselves and our family safe, evil is pounding on the front door ready to slip through the crack.

Did you know that unresolved anger, bitterness, and resentment bottled up, will eventually explode and may end up hurting yourself or the people you care most about?

Unresolved Anger grows into Bitterness and Resentment

In Genesis 4: 1- 16 in the bible Cain grew angry because his offering was not accepted by God. When his brother’s sacrifice was accepted, Cain’s anger morphed into resentment and bitterness. Cain’s grudge eventually exploded into violence that killed his brother.

The sad part is that the problem had never been with Abel. It was with God, because He had rejected Cain’s offering. To find true freedom from anger, Cain’s response needed to be seeking the Lord’s help through prayer.

An insult against you is a result of sin from another person. How you deal with the offense of being mistreated determines whether the sin is replicated or ended. If you detect bitterness or resentment in your own heart, it is best to treat it as sin.

“Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language”

Colossians 3:8

After you have identified the sin, then confess it to the Lord. Ask Him to remove it and replace it with ideas promoting goodwill.

How Did Jesus Respond to Anger?

Let’s look at the model of a Christian man in Christ Jesus. When Jesus was not welcomed by the Samaritans, it was an insult and his followers were greatly upset. Their initial reaction was asking Jesus for permission to call for fire to consume them.

I totally get it! When I’m upset, I’m tempted to call down fire from heaven too. But that’s my human nature and not Jesus’ way. Jesus responded to his disciples by rebuking their actions (Luke 9:54).

Perhaps the offense against you was much greater than not being welcomed. Take a look at another time when Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest followers.

“Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested Him. 

Those around Jesus saw what was about to happen and said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, temple officers, and elders who had come for Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against an outlaw? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on Me. But this hour belongs to you and to the power of darkness.” (Luke 22: 49 – 52)

A follower of Christ may respond to injustice by violence, but because Jesus answered, “No more” regarding violence. I believe we are not to respond with violence to injustice. Especially when Jesus immediately turned and healed the injured man. May Jesus be as quick to heal all who have been injured by injustice in our world too. And He will if we humble ourselves and call upon Him in prayer.

But maybe your injustice is not merely a unwelcome response or an arrest by the local authorities. Maybe the injustice you grieve over resulted in death.

Let’s look at Jesus’ reactions after he had been beaten by the local authorities upon request of the large mass of people who had gathered. Listen to his words while He was nailed upon the cross.

They crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on His right and the other on His left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23: 33 – 34

What? No calling down fire from heaven? No sword fight? Jesus prays for the people who killed him? The same people who rejoiced over his death?

May the Lord give us all strength if that day should ever come, that we would respond in such a way as to honor Christ.

C.H. Spurgeon says, “If evil assails you, and you only fight it with good, it cannot hurt you, you are invulnerable. If a man has slandered you, but you never return him a reproachful word, he has not hurt your real character; the dirt which he has thrown has missed you, for you have none to throwback upon him. The very thing your enemy wants is to make you descend to his level, but, as long as you remain unprovoked, you vanquish him. Believe me, you are provoking your adversary terribly if you are quite calm yourself, you are disappointing him, he cannot insert his poisoned darts, for you are clad in armour of proof.”

C.H. Spurgeon’s Sermon Overcome Evil With Good

In the midst of Christ’s pain on the cross, he prayed for those who were the cause. It honors Christ during our own pain that we pray for those who have offended, betrayed, or hurt us.

If Christ is your Savior then you are required to overcome evil that was done to you or others by good. Yes, you heard me right. Overcome Evil by Good. We must not fight against the person but against the evil actions that the person is taking.

How Do We Get Rid of Bitterness?

  1. Remember God’s word is the solution to removing bitterness. Use scripture as your foundation for prayer.
  2. Search yourself to be certain that you have called upon Christ to be your Savior. Recommit yourself to following Jesus’ ways.
  3. Recognize Bitterness is sin.
  4. Confess to God all your bitterness and resentment. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
  5. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:17-18)
  6. Pray to be filled with love instead of anger. “Love is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6.)
  7. Pray for your enemies.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”

 

Ephesians 4: 31- 32

Scriptures to Pray when Embittered

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Romans 12: 14 – 19)

“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” (Hebrews 12: 14 – 15)

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2: 23)

Call to Action

What good can we do to overcome anger, bitterness, and resentment in the world? Well, we can start with us, our family, our community. 

An immediate action that anyone can take is to pray right now. Comment below if you stopped just now and prayed.  It will be an encouragement to others to know that people are praying!

A small action is to call another believer in Christ and pray together on the phone. If you do not know another believer in Christ, please join my email list.  Then you can respond back to me via email whenever I send an email out to the group.  Emailing your prayer to a friend and asking them to pray works just as well!  

Another idea is to invite a small group of people to meet together via Zoom (or other online conferencing tool) to pray together at a specific time during the week.  Use whatever messaging system just to select a time to pray at the same time if you are uncomfortable organizing an online conference.

If you need encouragement to take action, read below:

The LORD appeared to him (Solomon) at night and said to him:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7: 12-14)

Even it has been awhile, the Lord delights to hear from his children. He will welcome your call. 

If you prayed for yourself, someone else, your community, or your country. Thank you friend for your prayer!  Every prayer counts and is precious to the Lord.   

Free Online Bible Study

Join the online bible study this week. We are just now reading chapter 4 in Jill Briscoe’s book, Here I am Lord, Send someone else!

All you need to do is download the book for free on Hoopla if you have a public library card. Or you can purchase the book via my affiliate link:

Here I am Lord Send Someone Else

I would love to stay in touch. I just need an email address so I know where to send the Zoom invitation for the online discussion. Click here to receive more information about the online bible study

Join my FB group to connect to a community who loves the Lord.

Resources:

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Briscoe, Jill. Here I am Lord Send Someone Else

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Published by aljollie

Servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, Wife, Mother of two sons, Instructional Designer, Technology Instructor, Former Elementary Teacher, Thinking Math Enthusiast, Write from the Beginning Believer, and Technology junkie

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