We will all at certain times be hurt deeply by others, even close friends. If you do not learn to answer the bitterness with forgiveness it can take over your life! We live in a world that celebrates bitterness. How are we supposed to understand bitterness? People who are bitter are victims of their own hate. What does God say about living at peace and not bitterness?
Hebrews 12:14-15, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Bitterness is a dangerous root. It is something that is hidden that we can’t see. Bitterness is the root problem that leads to anger, resentment, and hate. It establishes control of our actions, attitudes, emotions and decisions. You are held in bondage to the unresolved hurt.
Bitterness contaminates us by:
- Poisoning our relationships and ourselves. Bitter people are critical and become excited when others hurt.
- Moving us away from God. It erodes the joy in a person’s life.
- Keeping us hostage. Bitterness is one of the main goals of Satan to stop growth in a person’s life. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) but bitterness keeps a detailed list.
What do we do with bitterness? A lot of times we just kick it aside or stuff it away. It is similar to the frustrating job of removing weeds in the garden. The "quick fix" is to kick over the top of the weed! It makes it “look” like the weeds are gone, but quickly they come back! Bitterness is a root so we need to dig up!
How to beat bitterness with forgiveness:
-Admit you are bitter Bitter people do not think they are bitter! You might be held down by bitterness against YOURSELF or a failure. Accept God’s forgiveness!
-Release the baggage! (v.15) Ask God to dig deep into the recesses of our soul to remove the bitterness.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" Matthew 6:14,15.
-Replace with the love of Christ - We must make peace with our past if we want freedom.
“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 in Christ God forgave you”. Ephesians 4:31-32
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
We must see the deep forgiveness and grace of Jesus in our own lives before we can release the bitterness that is keeping us hostage. Who are you bitter against? will you begin to release the bitterness?
We have two choices to make in response to pain in life:
Go through the door of bitterness that leads to being held hostage
Go through the door of continual forgiveness that leads to freedom
#9: I remember first talking with one of my professors in college about class and a project. After a few conversations I realized that I wanted him to mentor me outside of the classroom. I was not sure how that really worked but I remember beginning the process of being mentored. Throughout my last two years in college we met on a weekly basis where he spent time asking me the hard questions about my thought life, struggles, relationships and relationship with God. Because of the time I was poured into, it showed me how I should lead others. In order to set up other people to succeed, I must:
Answer the hard questions for myself: If I am not willing to dig deep and unroot the bitterness, hurts and discouragement, how can I lead others to do the same? I learned early in ministry from my family and mentors to not conceal matters but deal with them. If we will be willing to
Master the art of the question: Learn to ask more questions and quit giving cheap answers. Leadership is all about pulling out the greatness in others. People will never grow until we allow them the chance to answer for themselves. Once they own it, they will be a leader.
Learn to dig up the root cause: For every behavior, there is a root cause. We spend too much time with behavioral management. We need to look at the heart. Listen to others with the heart and not just for results. Lead people through how to forgive and resolve conflict. Life is too short to be angry, bitter and resentful towards others.
Focus more on God than our abilities: God doesn't look at us with negativity but with passion. God wants to use you and me for His purposes. Give people opportunities to find out more about their strengths and encourage them in it. Focus upon who they are becoming instead of their past history.
Set people loose to succeed: Give away the ministry! Learn to move yourself out of the spotlight and celebrate when others succeed. One of the hardest lessons in leadership is to allow others to be praised instead of yourself.
What would you add to this list? How do you help develop others to succeed?