Uprooting the Root of Bitterness

Ephesians 4: 30 – 32

Jesus wants to help you overcome the most common sin among Christians today. Bitterness is considered by many to be the most common sin among Christians. Are you presently harboring any bitterness?

In the New Testament the word comes from the word “pikria.” It refers to a person who has become cynical, caustic, sarcastic, hostile, or resentful. It manifests itself by the person becoming negative, unhappy, and critical.

We become bitter when we feel God, circumstances, or someone has wronged us, and we can’t do anything about it. We get angry and refuse to forgive. Bitter people build a mental dossier on the failings of others. This outlook causes the bitter person to look for little things about which to make snide, cutting comments, sarcastic remarks, and unkind statements.

Often bitterness is felt toward God. When it is, most frequently it is expressed indirectly. Maybe as a child something traumatic happened that you prayed would not happen. Anger toward God arose. Over a period of time bitterness sprouted. It is hard to get your hands on God and exercise vengeance against Him. Therefore, the church becomes the target. Maybe it is even God Himself and the reaction of bitterness is expressed in a denial of His existence.  

Every person has hurtful or negative experiences. It is up to the individual as to how to react. Bitterness is an improper reaction.

Forgive the person you consider to have offended you as Jesus told Peter and us to do it 70 X 7 times. That means, don’t quit forgiving.

When the poet Edwin Markham reached the age of retirement, he was stunned to learn that his banking friend had betrayed him and lost all of his life’s savings. At retirement he was penniless. The torch of bitterness burned where the candle of joy had formerly gleamed. His inspiration ceased and his pen became unproductive. One day this highly productive poet was sitting doodling, drawing circles when the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit impacted him.  He said the Holy Spirit did not speak to him in an audible voice, but clearly convinced him, “Marcum, if you do not deal with this thing, it is going to ruin you. You cannot afford the price you are paying. You must forgive that man.” He prayed, “Lord, I will, and I do freely forgive.”

With the root of bitterness uprooted His creativity returned and the man who wrote the memorable poems “Lincoln” and “The Man With the Hoe” produced what he considered his best poem:

“He drew a circle and shut me out–
Heretic, rebel, a thing of flout;
But love and I had a will to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!”

There are two different and dissimilar Greek words in the text, both of which are translated “forgiveness.”  One refers to releasing of charges against a person and exempting that one from punishment.  The other speaks of aggressive action to regain the heart of the adversary. It means to show grace to a person. To give them unmerited favor. By the grace of God it can be done. Do it and gain victory.