I. What is Bitterness?
We once had a lady in our church many years ago in another state, that was easily offended. She always wore her feelings on her shirtsleeve. We'll call her "Lady Shirtsleeve" to preserve her anonymity. Lady Shirtsleeve got offended because there was a party and she didn't get an invitation. She was out of town when the invitations were sent out. The people sending out the invitations didn't think she was going to be in town when the party was going to be held so they didn't send her one. She arrived back home early to discover that there was a party and she wasn't invited. When the people holding the party discovered what had happened they called the offended lady and apologized. They verbally invited her since it was too late to mail an invitation. Nothing would appease her. She was so angry she was not going to forgive them. She began to sow strife in the church. I talked to her and tried to minister to her, but like Jacob, she refused to be comforted. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, "For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning." Thus his father wept for him. (Gen. 37:35)
Bitterness results when we refuse to be comforted. I was grieved in my spirit by the strife that this angry and hurt lady was sowing in the church. That night I had a dream. In the dream there was a big angry grizzly bear. This bear was running after the people in the church and when he would catch one of them he would maul and mangle them. Some were severely wounded. Several were killed. I said, Lord what does this mean, and He said, "Bitterness is a bear" He was showing me that bitterness was an angry wounded bear that would not be comforted. It was a bear that wanted to make others feel the pain he also felt.
Bitterness is defined as: unpleasant, angry, hostile, sour, and resentful. When we are offended and refuse to forgive, and receive God's comfort, it is just a matter of time until bitterness sets in.
We find many examples of bitterness in the Word of God. The children of Israel were bitter because of the hard bondage they had been under in Egypt . They responded to every situation they found themselves in from a bitter perspective. The evidence of their bitterness was found in their speaking. You can always detect a bitter person by the words they speak. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." A murmuring, complaining, attitude is proof of a bitter spirit.
The Word warns us not to let bitterness take root in our heart: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; (Heb. 12;15)
Here are some of the symptoms of bitterness
1. Bitterness will poison your soul
Bitterness will defile us. It will poison our soul. When the Apostles were praying for people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, Simon the sorcerer saw what was happening and wanted to buy this gift of getting people baptized in the Holy Spirit. Here is what the Apostle Peter told him: Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." ( Acts 8:17-23) Simon was poisoned by bitterness.
2. Bitterness will bind you up.
Bitter people are bound to the people who have offended them, the past incident of offense, and the pain that was afflicted upon them. The unforgiving servant was delivered to the torturers (which represent demons). Mt. 18:34.
3. Bitterness is troubling. (Heb. 12;15)
Bitterness troubles the soul of the unforgiving person and causes them to sow trouble and strife wherever they go. Don't allow this poison to ever contaminate your heart no matter what someone may have done to you. It isn't worth it.
4. It hinders faith and prayer.
In Mark 11:25,26, right after the Lord talks about mountain moving faith he adds that we must forgive men their trespasses or ours won't be forgiven. If you have bitterness in your soul, you can't walk by faith because your heart will condemn you. Your conscience will keep telling you, "you're not right with God because of unforgiveness so how can you really think God will answer your prayers."
5. It causes many people to be defiled. (Heb. 12:15)
Offended people offend others and wound them. They in turn wound others if they don't forgive. A chain reaction takes place where many people become contaminated with the poison of bitterness. Whole families can experience an epidemic of unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness. The root of bitterness can be passed down to future generations. It is vital that we learn how to be free from this insidious trick of the enemy.
For now. Make a choice to forgive. Stand in that choice and don't allow thoughts of vengeance to contaminate your mind. After you follow these two steps you'll begin to heal emotionally.
How To Overcome Bitterness II
We are living in times when it is easy to be offended because there are many offensive people who disregard and disrespect others. Nevertheless we can't afford to let ourselves hold onto offense.
There are many things that cause offense which if left unchecked, can ultimately result in bitterness. During these evil times, I have found myself having to guard against taking offense or letting some of the insanity of the world affect my spirit. Sometimes we need to shut the news off, or get away from an irritating person, or avoid certain places in order to guard our hearts. The Bible says, " Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." Prov. 4:23.
"If you have begun to recognize some of the root causes of bitterness, have good cheer. Jesus will deliver you from a root of bitterness or even the beginning stages of bitterness such as unforgiveness, resentment,
Here are some roots of bitterness and how to overcome them:
1. Wilderness experiences.
The Israelites began to be bitter because of the harsh conditions they had to endure in the wilderness. When we go through hard times we can respond in one of two ways. We can either get bitter or we can get better. Instead of getting bitter about the tests and trials of life get better. Use them as a challenge to grow your faith and patience. Stand steadfast on the Word of God in prayer and get through whatever you're going through. Don't quit. Picture yourself as a contestant on one of the "reality" programs. There are a great cloud of "faith witnesses" looking down from heaven on you. If Daniel can go through the lion's den, and David can face a giant, you can go through your trial in victory through Christ too. Know that God is with you and is testing you and trying you to know what is in your heart (De. 8:2). Learn to glory in tribulations. (Romans 5:3).
People will do you wrong, whether it is intentional or not. Offenses will come. Jesus said so. Even "perceived offenses" or in other words something someone does that you thought was offensive, but wasn't intended to be an offense still works bitterness into your soul if left unopposed. To maintain a "sweet spirit" forgive that person as soon as you realize you have taken offense. Walk in that decision of forgiveness until the "feelings of forgiveness" come. Remember, feelings follow thoughts and decisions. So don't let feelings lead you or make you think you haven't forgiven. Just stand in that decision of forgiveness and you'll eventually feel the forgiveness.
When people betray us it hurts, and it causes offense if we that offense to go without forgiving. Don't let unforgiveness abide even for one second. As soon as you realize that you have taken offense, forgive them. Jesus immediately said, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."
How To Overcome This Poison of The Soul:
1. Know that you can forgive anything.
If our Lord could forgive his crucifiers, we can forgive anything. Pam and I had to forgive the man that shot and killed her daughter. If we can do that, you can forgive just about anything that comes against you.
2. You must want to forgive.
You must want to forgive so that you please God and get released in your own soul. You must want to forgive because the Word of God tells you that you have to in order to be forgiven. You must want to forgive because you will be bound up and delivered to the tormentors until you do. Mt. 18:34.
3. You must make the choice to forgive.
Forgiveness is first a choice. Many people confuse forgiveness with their emotions. If they don't feel like they have forgiven they don't believe they have. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Forgiveness is a command from God and therefore a choice. We choose to forgive and then we begin to experience deliverance in our emotions as we live a lifestyle of forgiveness.
4. You must walk in that choice until the healing of your emotions comes.
Healing of the emotions can take a while. Just persist in walking in the decision you made to forgive the person that offended you and eventually the way you fell about your offender will change. If you want to accelerate the process begin to pray for them (Mt. 5:44). Your whole attitude will change. Forgiveness releases you from the person that offended you, the past incident, and the pain that it caused. Forgiveness is for your benefit.
5. Have someone pray for you to be delivered from a root of bitterness.
If you have become bitter it is necessary to receive ministry. There is a spirit sent from Satan that specializes in bitterness that will begin to dominate a person's thinking. This is what we call a root of bitterness. This root that goes deep into the soul and forges a pattern of thinking that must be changed. We need to retrain our mind to think the best of people and not judge them. We need to develop a mindset that is quick to forgive. This takes time to develop but it can be done. We can have a sweet spirit.
Have a blessed day,
Dr Darrell Ellis, Sr. Pastor
Anointed Word International Fellowship