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. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
Often when things don’t go our way, we become very bitter and “throw a pity party.” Ultimately, we will find that we can lose a lot of precious time being bitter.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, he declared, “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” (12:15 ESV). Paul was trying to teach the Hebrew brethren that God is going to chastise and discipline those He loves, so don’t harbor bitterness, for their earthly fathers were doing the same. Further, Paul was teaching that by growing weary in God’s discipline for them, their bitterness could corrupt and destroy many others.
We must be careful of the bitterness that spews from our mouths because it can create a multitude of issues that will stifle what can become better. I Corinthians 12:31 (ESV) states, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” The Spirit gives us gifts as He will, but not all will receive the same. We should not be envious or bitter because someone else has a higher gift.
Therefore, turn your bitterness into betterness, for then you can become a more productive witness for Christ.
South African President Nelson Mandela remarked, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Just look at what bitterness can do to your mind, body and soul! According to “Don’t Judge Your Life,” resentment can cause you to see everything through spectacles of negativity. Resentment and bitterness can interfere with our body’s hormonal and immune systems, thus causing illness and disease.
Socially, resentment and bitterness will turn you into a person that nobody wants to spend any time with or interact with and leave you feeling even more empty and alone.
Therefore, is it worth it to harbor bitterness? Fix it by venting to a friend, getting logical, forgiving and forgetting, and eliminating the cause. Further, let us not forget about studying the Word and praying without ceasing.
“Gary Inrig tells the story of a man bitten by a dog, later discovered to be rabid. Hospital tests confirmed this. The man had contracted rabies. This was a time when there was nothing much to be done after rabies had set in, for no cure had been developed. The doctor had the bleak assignment of bringing the bad news to his patient. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘everything possible will be done to make you comfortable, but we can’t offer any false hope. My best advice to you is to get your affairs in order as soon as possible.’ The dying man sank back in depression and shock, but finally he rallied enough strength to ask for a pen and paper. He began writing furiously. An hour later, when the doctor returned, the man’s pen was still flowing.
“The doctor said, ‘Well, it’s good to see that you have taken my advice. I take it you’re working on your will.’
“‘This ain’t no will, Doc,’ said the man. ‘ It’s a list of people I plan on biting before I die.’
“Bitter believers are those who have been bitten, and then channel their energy into snapping at others. You see, bitterness [can make] us permanently angry; it carves deep lines on our faces. It adds heaviness to our very steps.” (Pastor Denis Lyle)
It is in my opinion that one of the most profound examples of someone in modern history who turned bitterness into betterness is Attorney Stacey Abrams. In a bitterly contested race between Attorney Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, it was concluded by many across the nation that racially-motivated patterns of voter suppression thwarted her win for the 2018 gubernatorial election in Georgia.
Being above bitterness and “throwing a pity party,” in 2019 Attorney Abrams founded and became the chairperson of Fair Fight Action, a national voting rights organization, rooted in Georgia. As a result of her major efforts, along with others, to address voter suppression, nearly 70,000 new voters were registered in Georgia alone. She worked from the ground up, even knocking on doors and making countless phone calls in the 2020 election. The outcome is always better when believers focus on betterness, not bitterness.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, stay safe, get involved in righting the wrongs of social injustice, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)