At some point in your life someone has sinned against you. How have you dealt with it? How did you handle it? Did it make you angry, upset? Did you just pass it off? Were able to forgive them? Or did you become resentful and bitter?
Bitterness is a characteristic that is given to many. They do not take joy in everyday blessings, their countenance is gloomier, and the way they bear themselves seems drooped. Sometimes they hide behind artificial means without dealing with the root of the problem – themselves. By mulling over every detail of every evil thing done or said (real or imagined), they pull themselves deeper and deeper into a pit of despair and darkness without any hope of seeing daylight again. As they sink, the tiny wound which opened up these feelings gets even more infected and rotten if not dealt with soon.
Just this week, I have witnessed what can happen if these wounds are not dealt with soon enough. A young adult got into a mild fight with some good friends of his. Mostly poking around at each other, but things escalated. They began to try to hurt each other as well as they could. They all left with wounds, but his was left unattended. A week passed and his wound grew worse; he did all he could just to get up and take care of himself. A few days later, someone found the wound. At this point it was infected, infested, and rotting. Not just the injury, but his entire body was being taken over by the poison. The very aura around him stank so bad, you would think he was dead. His color was pale, he lagged behind everyone else, and his sunken eyes were faded. He writhed in suffering. A helping hand tried to reach him, but it was too late. He was too gone, too far into his disease to be saved. That night, he passed away. Now, this story is about a turkey on our farm that had to be put down, but the moral is still the same. If that sore is left untended, un-cared for, and left alone, it will consume your entire being and rot.
You just might be asking, “What is to be done? How can I stop this from happening to me?” Hebrews12:15 tells us to obtain the grace of God to keep the root of bitterness from springing up, but what if it already has? You cannot wait for the other person to ask for forgiveness; bitterness will never forgive. It is not in its nature to. The only place you can go to be free from the bitterness entangling your life is into the open embrace of Jesus.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 4:31-5:2).
There is not a drop of bitterness in God’s veins, which leaves room for forgiveness. He forgave the Ninevites, one of the most sinful nations in the Bible, and He has forgiven us, yes, us. We were lost in sin and had every right to make God bitter, yet He forgave us. Imitate Christ’s character, only through God’s immense grace is it possible, and forgive and forget. Let go of malice, ill-intent, and bitterness and drink in the life that is possible through Jesus Christ.