Overcoming Bitterness

Many people suffer from bitterness without considering its significant affect on life.

I don’t have time for bitterness. When we drove away from our retirement celebration my wife said, “Isn’t it great to have no bitterness toward anybody or about anything.” She repeated that recently.

Our English word for bitterness comes from the Greek word PIKRIA which refers to a person who becomes cynical, caustic, sarcastic, hostile, or resentful. Such a person becomes negative, unhappy, and critical. That definitely isn’t me.

Two brief concepts have long helped me deal with any vestige that might tend to build up.
One is based on the Bible verse Hebrews 12: 15, “…lest a root of bitterness springing up trouble you….” Observe who it troubles — “you.”

This couplet summarizes that concept: “Bitterness does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to the one on which it is poured.”

Bitterness and other emotional stresses cause an increase in thyroid gland secretion. When this excess of thyroxin pours into the blood stream some of it goes to the brain which is contained in a rigid skull causing headaches. It can change muscle tension, influence blood flow to the organs, and the secretion of glands.

A second aid to dealing with bitterness is also based on Scripture. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
Some people are bitter with a person. That person may be a world away or even dead but they are ever present with the bitter person. The object of bitterness becomes the task master of the bitter person.

Others may be adults still bitter with their parents for failing or emotionally injuring them. Don’t be a marionette controlled by past injustice.

Some people are even bitter with God. Old Testament character Naomi was one such person. She said, “Call me Mara, because the almighty has made my life bitter” (Ruth 1:20). It is impossible to get your hands on God and exercise vengeance on Him. Some feeling He failed them respond by denying His existence. Still others take out their bitterness toward God
on the church.

Bitter persons tend to blame their bitterness on someone else. Actually it is a fault in their reaction.

We are all subject to injustices and injuries. Vitriol and vengeance are visited on all persons. Therefore, when I say I have been the object of what I consider mistreatment I am not saying “poor little ole me.” I am saying I am in the boat with you. We each choose how we react. Our response is our choice. I choose not to be bitter. It is not in my constitution.

Oh, Naomi! Once she got her eyes off herself and realized what a blessing God had given her in the person of Ruth, she became a blessing to Ruth and was herself blessed. It works.