Here are 3 things you may not know, if you have not been a student of bitterness.
#1 It’s a secondary infection. Bitterness doesn’t just happen overnight. It settles in after we’ve had another ailment – like pneumonia settles in after a cold or the flu. The first “ailment” is that we’ve been wronged or sinned against. The progression is: anger, then resentment, and finally bitterness.
At first we erupt in anger at an offense or perceived offense against us. Then we hang onto it. Resentment is the step where we rehearse, review, remind ourselves of how awful or unfair that was. We replay the tapes in our mind of what they did or said.
Then, after a season of this, our resentment firms up and turns into full-fledged bitterness. Bitterness is hard and permanent, a condition where our hearts have turned into stone. My beliefs are now firmly held and my mind cannot be changed. “He doesn’t care about me,” or “They have always been out to get me,” may be some of the thinking of a bitter person.
#2 Most bitter people don’t realize they are bitter. I certainly didn’t. I was shocked and appalled that someone would call me that. After all, it’s everyone else’s fault, not mine. I am the one who has been wronged!
Bitterness points the finger and blames others. “It’s because of them that I’m this way,” we reason. A bitter person is quick to tell you of the unfair treatment they’ve received and the grievous sins they’ve endured. However, they are reluctant to examine their own behavior. Bitterness is also characterized by mountains of self-pity and hopelessness. “I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am,” is how a bitter person thinks.
#3 The only remedy is Christ. The only way a bitter person’s eyes are opened is through the work of the Holy Spirit. You cannot reason someone out of bitterness, you cannot convince them that they are at fault or that their thinking is erroneous. Arguing is pointless and only alienates the bitter person from you. They will believe you are not “on their side” if you produce facts that refute their firmly held beliefs.The only remedy for bitterness is Christ. The only way a bitter person’s eyes are opened is through the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet
Number 3 may seem like bad news, but it is also the good news. The only remedy is Christ! And He is merciful, gracious, kind and forgiving. He knows we are weak and He helps us when we ask. He is ready to forgive us of our bitterness and restore our hearts of stone. That is what He did for me and on the other side is a life of joy and blessing.
If you know someone who struggles, the best thing you can do is pray for them and ask the Spirit to open their eyes. Ask the Lord to be merciful and show them their sin. In the meantime, keep loving them and pointing them to Christ.
Do you know bitter people? Is it possible you may struggle with bitterness yourself?