“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” – Malachy McCourt
It may not be true for everyone, but many of us are holding on to something or someone, in most cases, and we have become bitter. So, what’s your story? Was it the divorce, the layoff, the lies, the alcohol, other woman or the other man? Maybe someone wasn’t who you thought they were. Did they embarrass you, talk about you behind your back, steal from you; or, is it the diagnosis, the death of someone you love or the daily financial struggle that makes you bitter, angry and frustrated? Yeah, me too. It sucks! Believe me, I know.
We may not be a victim of everything on the lists above, but it only takes one of these to set us on the destructive path of negativity, which turns to resentment, which ultimately becomes bitterness if we allow it. I want everyone to understand that the above reasons are valid reasons to get angry. Some believe that only petty and overly sensitive people fall victim to bitterness, but so often, our bitterness is fully justified. However, the Word speaks against bitterness because it literally destroys our lives. Hebrews 12:15-16 tells us to see to it no one comes short of the grace of God; that of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it, many be defiled becoming guilty of sexual vices and other Godless acts. In other words, when we hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness, we invite more issues into our lives through sin. We trade in God’s goodness and long-term reward for meaningless and fleeting cravings. Acts 8:23 confirms this saying those who are full of bitterness are captive to sin.
But how does this make sense? How is bitterness related to sin? I believe we get frustrated in bitterness and quickly adopt a “give up” attitude. We throw caution to the wind and seek instant gratification pleasures because we have lost all hope of true fulfillment. We all know these things won’t last, but we do them anyway because we believe it is our only source of satisfaction. If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition, there, you will find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:14). The deeper we slip into sin, the further we are from God’s will (Isaiah 59:2) and the more bitter we become. This cycle is incredibly vicious and blinding and I urge you to GET OUT as quickly as humanly possible! Although Romans 3:10-18 is directed at the Jews of the day, it gives us a depiction of our lives when we choose to remain in bitterness and sin saying: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away and have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery marks their ways and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
A life of peace is void of bitterness, unforgiveness and sin. Making peace with others is made easier when there is peace within yourself. Hebrews 12:14 says to make peace with all men; without it, no one will see the Lord. Some have preached this saying that you will not make it to heaven if you don’t seek peace with people. This is not necessarily a wrong argument, because Christianity is based on what’s in the heart. What kind of heart does a person have if they despise peace? However, I believe the scripture has two more perspectives. The first is others’ view of our lives. When we hold on to bitterness, while engaging in sin, our testimony of the Lord is weakened. It is much harder for people to believe in our Christian walk and come to Christ when we are saying one thing and doing another. Jesus commanded all Christians to go into the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). He did not say this so that we can be ineffective. No man will see the Lord if our testimony is weak and our lifestyles are messed up. The other perspective is how YOU see God. Bitterness keeps us stuck in a place of negativity of the mind. Although there are some difficult truths in the Bible, the Bible is NOT negative. The truth of the Word is designed to move us in a forward direction. Negativity holds us back and forces us to digress. If we are continuously focused on negative, angry and bitter thoughts, it influences that kind of lifestyle, which blocks God’s hand in our lives. If His hand is “absent”, then how can you see Him? No man will see the Lord if he blocks God from his world.
Finally, every thought we have produces a chemical in the brain. For the sake of good health, I encourage you to let it go. Whatever it is that’s holding you hostage and has imprisoned your life, let it all go. Forgive that person or deal with that thing that’s been going on with you and decide to move on. If we neglect our health, we are of no use to anyone. How can you fulfill your purpose if you don’t feel well, barely having the energy to live? It takes character to move on. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22). We live our lives from the inside out. What is in our hearts determines what we produce in our lives. A fruit cannot be rotten on the inside and remain healthy on the outside. “I pray that you prosper in every way and your body be in health, even as your soul prospers,” says 3 John 2 because if your soul prospers, everything else will prosper also. Things will begin to fall back into place and your life will be restored.
Have the circumstances in life seriously hurt you? Yes. Were these situations so bad it would have shaken anybody? Of course. But, do you need to forgive, let it go and be free to experience God to the fullest? Without a doubt … ABOLUTELY!
Kirby N. McKinney