Last week we looked at the Poison of Pride and saw how it can affect every aspect of your life, even if you are a believer. This week, we move into the second poison and again it is one that can completely ruin your life, believer or non-believer. It is the poison of Pain and Bitterness…
What makes this poison so subtle and so sinister is that you feel justified in it. People hang onto hurts for years, especially when they feel it is justified. “I didn’t deserve that,” or “That’s not fair!”
This poison is so sinister it is not only often undetectable, you actually feel justified in doing this sin. You won’t feel good, but you’ll feel right in indulging in this poison, but all the while it will be killing your walk with God!
Hanging onto hurt and pain is like drinking poison hoping the other guy dies! The only one being hurt by this is you. The perpetrator? They’ve often moved on with their lives and don’t even know you are still seething within.
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;
THE POISON OF PAIN AND BITTERNESS
Let’s face it, we all feel pain and bitterness. It’s a part of life. Someone says something against you, or does something to hurt you, and the pain just not let up. As a Christian, you know you need to forgive the other party, but they were wrong in what they did to you, and you just can’t let it go.
You might even mouth the words, “I forgive…” But then you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. Or you see them and you wish them evil. Or at very least you hope God judges them, and does it real quick and really thoroughly!
It’s a fact, we all get hurt. The question is how we deal with it, because if we don’t do this right, it becomes the root of bitterness, and then it’s sin, plain and simple!
WHAT CAUSES BITTERNESS?
Usually hurt is caused by 3 things…
- What’s been done to us
- What’s been said to us
- What’s been taken from us
You can’t generally control and stop these things from happening, but what you can control is the way you respond.
Pain and Bitterness is a hurt, dug in deep and amplified or left to fester. I once had a piece of glass in my hand, and it festered up with poison as my defenses eventually expelled the foreign body.
Hurt left unresolved will fester into bitterness.
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;
The word for bitterness actually means having a sharp, pungent taste or smell, like bitter gall.
The person who becomes bitter is always the one who has been wronged, or feels they have been.
How does Pain and Bitterness take root in your heart? Before there is a root there is a seed. The seed of pain or hurt is planted and the plant of bitterness begins to grow.
“Root” means it exists beneath the surface, invisible to the eye, but very real. The seed is planted when someone does you wrong, or you perceive that you were wronged. It could begin when you were disappointed or hurt. Sometimes the person who hurts us does it unintentionally being insensitive to what they did or said. Other times. . .it is deliberate. In either case the seed sprouts unseen by others and it takes root.
The Problem is, if we don’t deal with it properly, instead of returning love for hurt we disregard the Grace of God which is God’s unmerited favour and it blocks God’s blessing flowing to us.
God forgives the sinner who does not deserve to be forgiven… Take yourself, for example. Bitterness begins when instead of forgiving, we become resentful and bitter towards them. We think the person should know what they did and that we should be the ones to correct their behavior, but they go on as if nothing has happened.
But God’s word teach us that forgiveness is not based on merit, but on grace….because we choose to forgive and not hold resentment. And we must make that choice!
Listen to what Jesus said on the matter…
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
God treats this poison very seriously, because it is so destructive to you, those around you and the church.
So how do you deal with hurt and Pain and Bitterness?
BLOW UP, CLAM UP OR GIVE IT UP
Most of us dealing with Pain and Bitterness have one of two responses…
- They blow up, or 2. They clam up. This verse mentions both…
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Blowing Up is never a good idea. When pain or hurt comes, the knee jerk reaction is pretty much never going to be God. The Bible says be angry, but it also says do not sin.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
When we explode, however justified we think it may be, it will never produce the righteousness of God. You don’t explode in anger and see peace, faith, righteousness, joy, etc. result. Measure the worth of an action by its fruit, and you’ll find that the fruit of an explosion is going to be all bad!
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
A woman once told Gypsy Smith the famous evangelist that she was good because she fires up quick in anger but then it all passes and things are fine. The evangelist said, “”Yes, a shot gun fires up in less than a second, but look at the damage it can cause in that short space of time!”
If you are the blowing up kind, I would counsel you to step back and take some time to calm down. In WHOS Najara, our local drug rehab facility, they make you take a mandatory 24 hour time out before you answer any conflict. Not a bad strategy.
In your marriage, with your kids, with others in the church, try stepping back and taking a half hour breather before you respond. That way you will respond rather than react! Remember
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
And don’t run around thinking you have righteous anger towards people who hurt you, as some Christians claim. Even if your grievance is right, that doesn’t give you carte Blanche to react angrily. Righteousness anger I anger on behalf of God. So if you see victims of war or abuse, or if you hear God being slandered in the media, that’s righteous anger.
Anger about what has happened to you, that’s not righteous anger, because you basis for anger is all about you. Doesn’t mean you can’t be angry, just means it is not righteous anger. The emphasis here is, however angry or justified you think you might be, DO NOT SIN!
When you react, when you lash back, when you explode, when you get snarky, or short or high and mighty, or picky… call it what it is… It’s sin, so watch how you react. You have to deal with Pain and Bitterness better!
Clamming up is no good either. If you are the clam up person, you might feel good and righteous that you haven’t caused the carnage that the other guy’s caused, but you run the risk of bitterness. When you clam up, it’s like a pressure cooker, and the pressures is rising. Eventually you life can be ruined, or you will explode on a nuclear scale!
When the Bible say not to let the sun go down, it means don’t hold onto your anger. It means let it go, let the pain go. Why? Because hanging onto it will cause you to stew on it, which causes bitterness, which is the poison we are looking at now.
I spent many years in a country Baptist church. I observed Christians, even leaders in the church, who had held grudges and not spoken directly to people in the church for over 10 years. They still justified this action to themselves, and went to church every week.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
So don’t blow up, or clam up, give it up and let it go. Remember, this poison might make you feel justified, but it only hurts you and those you love, not the original perpetrator!
This poison of Pain and Bitterness is insidious, and the poison of pain and bitterness can kill you.
WHAT THE POISON OF PAIN AND BITTERNESS DOES
This poison Is one of the most destructive and dangerous of all human emotions and if not dealt with, will spiritually destroy the person who has it.
* It can rob you of your peace and joy.
* It is an open door for Satan to control you life.
* It can lead to the lost of good friends.
* It can hurt or destroy you relationship with your family, your wife and can even lead to the breakup of your home.
* It make peace and harmony impossible.
* There can be no true biblical love where it exists.
* It destroys any true relationship with the Lord and will keep you from growing in the Lord.
* It will defeat you and ruin your life and the lives of those around you.
LONG TERM FRUIT OF THE POISON OF HURT AND BITTERNESS
The fruit of this poisonous root can be devastating to your life.
- Pain and Bitterness causes the person who holds it harm. It will rob you of your peace of mind, of joy in your life or satisfaction. Most of all it will deeply hurt your pride.
Holding onto hurts will saturate your mind. The root of bitterness can take hold our your mind. You find yourself thinking about the person who harmed your all the time. You cannot get over it or get it out of your mind.
In Dr S.I. McMillen’s book “None of these Diseases” he said: “The moment I start hating a person I become that person’s slave. I can’t enjoy life…he controls my thoughts…I can’t escape his/her grasp on my mind. He or she may be many miles away, always in my mind.”
The story is told of a very bitter woman who was bitten by a rabid raccoon. Test are run and the doctor tells her she has rabies. She then got out a notebook and began to write down names. The doctor asked if she was making a will. She replied, NO! I am making a list of all the people I am going to bite!
- Pain and Bitterness will sadden your spirit. Bitterness is a depressant. There are no happy bitter people. It will make you critical, pessimistic, and negative. It will blow out the candle of joy in your heart. It will rob you of any getting any enjoyment out of life.
You get the “Woe is me” syndrome and everything you look at in your life will be seen through the colored lens of bitterness. You make yourself the perpetual victim, and so many in our society do this.
- It is an open door for the devil to control your life. Ephesians 4:27
and give no opportunity to the devil. It is a foothold for the devil in your life.
- Pain and Bitterness can sicken your body. God did not create our bodies to nurse bitter feelings towards others. It has been said that “Not every sick person is bitter, but every bitter person will eventually get sick.”
It causes stress and we all know that what the doctors tell us about stress it true. It will ruin our health and can kill us. Yet, is a sickness that can be 100% prevented and completely cured.
- Bitterness will defile others around you if if you do not overcome it.
– It will ruin your family and children if you are bitter against another Christian, your church, preacher, and yes….even God. This poison ruins churches and families if left unchecked.
– It will seriously effect your relationship with others and your ability to show love to your husband, children, family and friends. Marriages have been destroyed by bitterness, often when it is even directed towards others. Hurt people hurt people, and you hurt the people you love the most and who count on you.
– It will rob you of your testimony. Who is going to listen to a bitter, twisted, resentful person speaking about love and forgiveness. 1 John 5:2,
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
– It will rob you of your service and reward for the Lord. Often bitterness grows and a person become so dishearten that they give up on the Lord. There is no satisfaction in serving the Lord in Pain and Bitterness.
You see, bitterness effects our relationship with the Lord and God cannot bless us in this sinful state. – It will rob you of the blessings of the Lord. God cannot bless a person who is not living filled and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
THE ANTIDOTE TO THE POISON OF PAIN AND BITTERNESS
Ultimately, hanging onto pain and bitterness is sin. Sin severs our fellowship within God, and stops the flow of His blessings and anointing In our lives.
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
The antidote to this terrible poison is to cast it upon Him, 1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Carrying this stuff around inside of you, dealing with the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the hurt, the possibility of meeting them again, what is said, what will they do, this is burdensome.
It’s time to stop this poison right now. It’s time to take the antidote of casting all this upon your Lord, who loves you and wants the best for you. Let it go, stop carrying this junk, give it to Him, and don’t hang onto it. If you can trust Him for your salvation, can you not trust Him to deal justly with whatever cause or grievance you have?
And this diabolical sin will cut the heart out of your ministry for the Lord. You might outwardly serve the Lord, but your heart will not be in it. Your service is not done in faith serving God but you get resentful. This poison is sin, and the wages of it is still death.
Many of you will know that I suffered a severe and unwarranted attack late last year, both verbally, on the phone and in a letter many of you got about me. I hope you noticed that I did not respond to or address the false and slanderous lies and accusations made against me. I didn’t have to, I knew they were wrong. I also couldn’t afford to get bitter about it. So I let God deal with it. I am not angry or bitter towards these folks, just sad that they are so angry and bitter. God has dealt with it for me, and I have given my reputation to Him, so I don’t have to fight to answer anything.
One of the greatest examples of overcoming bitterness is Corrie Ten Boom. A survivor of Ravensbrck concentration camp, where her beloved sister Betsie had died in agony, she was speaking at a church in Munich Germany when she met a former SS guard. Let me share what she wrote about this:
“But since that time,” the former guard, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Frulein,”–and the hand came out–“will you forgive me?”
And I stood there–I whose sins had every day to be forgiven–and could not. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it–I knew that. I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s Love so intensely as I did then.
Brothers and Sisters, pain and bitterness can ruin your life and ministry, but I won’t let it ruin mine because I gave it all to the Lord.
And so must you. Some of you here have tried to escape the effects of this poison, especially with regards how you feel towards those who have wronged you, family members, church leaders and pastors or former friends. You cannot escape this poison on your own, it’s in you, and you need to totally give it to God right now and receive His antidote.
The antidote often takes time to work, but God promises it will. Step one is giving it to Him and letting Him deal with it, without your butting in and taking back control of your bitterness. Let’s dig this root out now!
Bill Newman says, Don’t nurse your hurts, don’t curse your hurts, don’t rehearse your hurts. Give them to God and reverse your hurts, because hurts will make you bitter or better
So what do you choose this morning? Do you want to be bitter, or better. Do you want curses, or blessings, death or life. Now choose life!
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live