Wednesday Evening Service
You either have dealt with bitterness in the past, are dealing with it now, or are going to deal with it in the future. Bitterness is the sin of unforgiveness. We can forgive if we choose, but we become bitter when we choose not to. Unforgiveness and bitterness are often the result of pride.
God did not equip us to deal with bitterness. The term “gall” implies a chain. Bitterness in life is like a ball and chain; we drag it around, and it drags us down.
Hebrews speaks of the “root” of bitterness; a root is unseen and can grow for a while before it is exposed. We need to search carefully our own hearts to discover the seeds of bitterness.
Simon wasn’t aware of his bitterness in Acts 8. There had been a city-wide revival in Samaria, and all the people had turned to God instead of Simon. Simon had gotten saved and was helping Philip. When he saw the power of the Holy Ghost, he wanted to be able to do the same. As a new Christian, he was a bit over-zealous.
Peter’s response shows that Simon’s heart was not right with God, but this does not imply that Simon was unsaved. We can only read Simon’s words; Peter could see his face and hear his voice. Bitterness is often detected from the tone of voice.
Bitter people are usually in denial. Simon, however, immediately repented of his bitterness. We need to root out bitterness before it bears its fruit. Once one person is bitter, it is not long before they have a crowd of bitter people around them.
The best way to correct bitterness is to forgive. The person you’re forgiving doesn’t have to be present for you to forgive them. Practice and exercise forgiveness. The question “why do we deserve this; we’re just trying to serve God” is a dangerous place to be.
Sometimes Satan attacks just to hurt God through His children, in a manner similar to kidnapping. Understand that as a Christian, it is part of your life to suffer. If Satan attacks you, then you’re probably doing something right; he fears your potential. If you’re in the midst of a battle against Satan, God is right there with you. If God is the one chastening you, then you know that it’s for your own good.
Simon thought he had lost something in accepting Christianity, but he really had not lost anything. Satan often tries to work on our minds to get an “advantage” over us if we’re not paying attention. In wrestling, advantage is important; it’s getting someone in a place where they are close to falling.
Many small offenses may add up to bitterness. People do things to us, take things from us, do wrong to people we love – or we think they did: these are all seeds for bitterness. Everyone has a tender heart, regardless of the strength of the body. It is essential to forgive, because bitter people hurt the ones they love. A bitter person can’t enjoy life. You need to choose to try to be happy; it is a process to recover from bitterness, but you need to choose to start.
Bitterness has physical, spiritual, and mental consequences. Bitterness spoils your looks; it causes a person to wither. A bitter person cannot love God like he should. He also cannot receive forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the key to bitterness. Sometimes we feel that God has done wrong (though He never does), and then we need to “forgive” Him by accepting His will. We need to forgive others who have done us wrong. We need to forgive ourselves.
Who is it who has harmed you? Have you forgiven them?
Draw close to God now; this will help prevent future bitterness.