Stupidity of Bitterness

/, RW Blog/Stupidity of Bitterness

Stupidity of Bitterness

Share Button

Indulging in bitterness is one of the most stupid things we ever do. How stupid is it? Well, think about it this way.

Imagine that someone stabbed you in the arm with a knife, leaving it there. After he flees, you stare in horror at the knife, then in agony take the handle in your other hand and pull it out.

Disappointed mature businessswoman thinking over somethingAfter a moment, you impulsively stab yourself again. With your own hand and by your own choice. You do it again and again, day after day, week after week. It’s one of the most self-destructive acts you could ever do.

But that’s exactly what bitterness is.

People betray us, lie to us, gossip about us, fail to support us. It hurts. It hurts badly. It’s like they’ve stabbed our hearts with a knife.

All too often, rather than turning to God for grace to respond to the wrong with wisdom and forgiveness, we choose to indulge bitterness. We keep thinking about that wrong. We play it like a video in our mind over and over. We stab ourselves with the sharp memory of the incident, feeling the pain again and again.

This is why the Bible tells us to “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph. 4:31). God wants to spare us from the repeated, unnecessary pain we tend to inflict on ourselves.

How do we find this relief? The answer is found in the words that surround verse 31: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” and “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (v. 30, 32).

The key to getting rid of bitter memories is to get my focus back on God. In the terms of relational wisdom, to become more God-aware and God-engaging. How?

First by remembering that bitterness in my heart grieves my Father’s heart … which I never want to do.

Second, by thanking God over and over for all he has done for me through Christ … especially for the countless times he has forgiven me for disobeying and hurting him.

Third, by meditating on the many promises God makes to comfort, sanctify and bless us when others have harmed us (see, e.g., Psalm 37:1-40, which I have turned to often in life).

And fourth, by asking him to fill me so full of his grace and love that I naturally imitate him and obey his teaching as I respond to those who have wronged me.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:30-32).

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

Think of a time when you felt prolonged bitterness toward someone.

  • How did it affect you? (Psalm 73:21-22; Psalm 106:32-33; Acts 8:23; James 3:14)
  • How did it affect your relationship with God? (Isaiah 59:1-2)
  • How did it affect your relationship with others? (Proverbs 10:12)
  • How can focusing on the Lord help you to get rid of bitterness? (Eph. 4:30-32)

For more insights on the role God-awareness and God-engagement play in improving your relational wisdom, go here.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2017 Ken Sande

Would you like to receive future posts like this? Subscribe now

Share Button
By | 2017-11-06T15:35:03-07:00 November 6th, 2017|Categories: Home Page, RW Blog|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360. Trained as an engineer, lawyer and mediator, Ken has conciliated hundreds of family, business, church and legal conflicts. As president of RW360, he now focuses on teaching people how to “get upstream of conflict” by building strong relationships in the family, church and workplace. Ken teaches internationally and is the author of numerous books, articles, and training resources, including The Peacemaker, which has been translated into seventeen languages. He is a Certified Relational Instructor and Conciliator, Emotional Intelligence Certified Instructor, and has served as an Editorial Adviser for Christianity Today.

2 Comments

  1. Jean November 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Mr Sande,

    Thanks for your helpful and timely article on bitterness. I just had a Gospel interaction with a potentially unsaved friend yesterday. She confessed to me her struggle with bitterness. In the course of our conversation, we had even touched on grieving the Holy Spirit and forgiving others as we’ve been forgiven by God. Your article is perfect. I’ve sent her the link.

    Just wanted to bring to your attention to typos I spotted. I didn’t want them to be a distraction to my friend so I thought I’d mention it to you. I put an asterisk by the two corrected missing/misspelled words below:

    “especially for the countless times has he* forgiven me for disobeying and hurting him.

    Third, by meditating on the many promises God makes to comfort, sanctify and bless us* when others have harmed us….”

    Thank you very much!

  2. Jean November 6, 2017 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Looks like my comment to you was full of typos itself! I apologize for that although its irony is humourous! Here’s my correction:

    “Just wanted to bring to your attention two* typos I spotted. I didn’t want them to be a distraction to my friend so I thought I’d mention it to you. I put an asterisk by the two corrected missing/misspelled words below:

    “especially for the countless times he* has* forgiven me for disobeying and hurting him.

    Third, by meditating on the many promises God makes to comfort, sanctify and bless us* when others have harmed us….”

Leave A Comment

Math Spam Protection * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

PageLines