Bitterness is poison to our spirit and cancer to our emotions. Nothing causes spiritual bondage greater than bitterness. No matter the offense, we are captive to our anger and susceptible to whomever we are holding a grudge. Just the sound of the offender’s voice or the sight of him or her can set our anger ablaze. Nothing could be more unChristlike.
Jesus taught us to seek forgiveness of our debts as we forgive our debtors. Our Lord was teaching us that we cannot experience forgiveness if we are unwilling to give it. We cannot do so because as Christians we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and when we harbor bitterness, we grieve Him. The Apostle Paul teaches us how to avoid this:
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Warren Wiersbe teaches that not only does our bitterness grieve the Holy Spirit, but it also grieves God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Trinity is one and all three are affected whenever one is troubled. Additionally, it invites the devil to wreak havoc on us. Wiersbe writes:
“An unforgiving spirit is the devil’s playground, and before long it becomes the Christian’s battleground. If somebody hurts us, either deliberately or unintentionally, and we do not forgive him, then we begin to develop bitterness within, which hardens the heart.”
Unfortunately, I think some people enjoy their misery. Nothing makes a person feel more validated than believing they deserve to hold a grudge. Unhelpful people in your life may tell you they understand how you feel and don’t blame you for it. That’s exactly the type of advice you should ignore.
It never ceases to amaze me when I talk with someone about their bitterness that they will quote another person who legitimizes their bitterness, as though a human being is the final authority. As Christians, ought we not always go to our Bibles for the final word?
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
“So you also must do…” Let’s take this bitterness issue a step further; it is sinful to hold a grudge. You are in rebellion against God and His holy word when you refuse to forgive. Furthermore, you can never reach the level of happiness you seek because your bitterness destroys your joy. It is a vicious cycle and why Wiersbe calls it the devil’s playground.
Satan has lost your soul but he will contend to his final breath for your spirit. If he can gain dominion over your heart, he knows he can at least rob you of your joy and keep you from sharing the gospel.
Think of all the times you’ve harbored bitterness in your heart. How many times during that period did you share the love of Jesus Christ with someone? Never, right? There’s a good reason for that; it’s almost impossible to spread good news when you’re throwing a pity party. “Woe is me” never translates to “Jesus saves.”
Grace is a bottomless reservoir; you can never dip out too much. The reason for that is Jesus commands us to always forgive, and where He commands, He always equips:
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)
Dear friend, it is time to break the chains of bitterness. It’s time to kick the devil off his playground and reopen the joy spigot in your life.
May grace flow from you like a mighty river, flowing from Calvary, and ending in sweet fellowship.
If you’re receiving these devotionals for the first time and would like to receive them on a regular basis, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use “Please add to Devotional List” as the subject. You can purchase Dave’s eight devotional books by visiting his Amazon author page.
Copyright © 2015 David Jeffers