Some of us have very good reasons to be bitter. There are awful things that have been done to us, and we cannot seem to let it go. Many of you following me have been victims of racism, sexual abuse, deception, bullying, neglect, and a myriad of other things.
But there’s a catch.
Bitterness is an emotional Voodoo doll. You pain yourself over and over with different thoughts about vengeance, altered reenactments, and ill-meant wishes for your offender.
Let me explain something to you: Bitterness is harming no one but yourself. In fact, by refusing to forgive those who do evil from you, you are being demonic. BItterness is so evil and so profound, that James, the brother of Jesus, calls it wisdom from Satan.
”But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” - James 3:13-16
When someone wrongs us, we can tend to think “I did not deserve that! I deserve to be treated well, I deserve this, I deserve that!” As image bearers of God, we understand this conviction. There is nothing wrong in knowing how human beings deserve to be treated. However, when you start to follow that simple truth with: “They took what is valuable to me! This person deserves to die. I hope terrible suffering comes onto him/her, because they wronged me! I hope their heart shatters.”
That’s bitterness. Someone wrongs you, and you just watch their every step, filling your heart with more and more bitterness. Everything they succeed in, you gnash your teeth at. Everything they fail in, you rejoice in and have an emotional banquet with yourself. When your focus goes from the will of God and onto yourself and how you can commit harm for harm, you are being tempted and coerced by evil. It’s completely selfish and only causes evil.
James then continues:
”But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” - James 3:17-18
Every single one of these qualities crushes bitterness. And yet, if there is anyone in this entire existence that deserves to be bitter, it’s God. He comes to be tortured, mocked, beaten, rejected, and crucified, offering Himself as payment for our own sins, and we do the complete opposite of that act of love. He cries out “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they are doing!” and we cry to that same Father “You better punish them! Look at what they have done to me!”
God forgives us, and we withhold forgiveness from the very people that we are supposed to be giving our lives to. And yes, we might have extremely good reasons for being bitter. God sure does. Look at what we have done to His creation and to ourselves. But He loves you anyway and died for you.
So next time you’re angry with someone, no matter if it’s been years or minutes, stop and ask yourself “Am I being forgiving just as God forgave me?”
Take these moments and reflect on those who have done evil to you, and then forgive them. Pray for them. Tell them that you love them. Ask how you can serve them. Because no matter how many times we slap Jesus in the face with our sin and wicked doings, He keeps on turning the other cheek. Maybe it’s about time we follow His footsteps.
I am praying for you all. I am always here to listen to what you are going through.
God bless and much love