Bitterness accumulates with time. It does not go away but become worse; people do not get less bitter with age or maturity. The person gets more bitter over the years. It gets worse and worse. Bitterness begins with:
- Hurt – A person who is easily hurt is more likely to get bitter.
- Resentment – Hurt if not dealt with, will lead to resentment. There is a close relationship between hurt feelings and resentment.
- Bitterness – Resentment, if not dealt with, will lead to bitterness. Bitterness is resentment held too long. It has become rancid and rotten. If bitterness is kept in, it gets worse.
- Hatred – Bitterness if not dealt with and kept too long will lead to hatred. There is a clear biblical identification between hatred and murder (1John 3:15).
Hebrews 12:15 (NKJV) “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” God’s Word describes bitterness as:
- Fall short of God’s Grace – This is God’s warning of the possibility of falling short from God’s Grace. To fall short of God’s Grace is to fall on the ground of the Law. God deals with Individual either on ground of (1) Law, or (2) Grace. We cannot be on both grounds (Law & Grace) at the same time. After experiencing God’s Grace, it is unthinkable to fall short of God’s Grace.
- Root of bitterness – Root of bitterness is the very essence of bitterness – root is something that is underground and cannot be seen. But there can be visible evidence of its presence, as when it surfaces. The fruit that is brought forth bears a direct relation to the root producing it, it bears bitter fruit.
- Trouble –Bitterness generally never destroys the person who has done the wrong, bitterness destroys the person who is bitter, even if the offended person is innocent. Bitterness causes trouble, physical (sickness, lost of sleep), emotional (unstable, mental breakdown) and ultimately spiritual (backslidden, not in harmony with God and men).
- Defile – The tragedy is that the “root of bitterness” not only troubles the person involved but it also defiles the people around the bitter person, “the “many” become defiled by its fruit (bitterness). We have seen bitterness goes through the home, church, office and work place.
Every person, without exception, will pass through bitter experience, but the Individual should not allow the bitter experience into his spirit, if there is the spiritual exercise before God concerning this experience. Bitterness will either bring about a broken and contrite spirit (Isaiah 66:2; Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:17), or else it brings a root of bitterness in the spirit. We must watch against these roots, subterraneous roots, from taking root in our spirit.
James 3:14-15 (NIV) “But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, un-spiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-15). If an Individual harbours bitterness, evil practice will result. It does not come from heaven. It is straight from the pit of hell and is demonic, – as it is, it is a real problem!
Grieves the Holy Spirit
Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 4:30-31 (NKJV) “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
In order to get rid of bitterness the person must:
- Acknowledges – The person needs to recognise that he has bitterness in his heart and bring it to the surface. The temptation is to look at the Offender and what was done. That is the nature of bitterness. In order to get rid of it, the person needs to recognise that it is his problem before he can forgive, confess and forsake it.
- Recognises – That bitterness does not please God and result in self-harm. Again, the reason the person does not deal with his bitterness is that he thinks it is the other persons who is wrong, and needs to apologise, which may be true, but it does not help. Only forgiveness of the offend and the person is the answer.
- Confession & Forgiveness – The person who is bitter must not keep sharing it. The only thing that gets rid of bitterness is to forgive and plea the Blood of Jesus for cleansing and covering; acknowledging that he has experienced God’s Forgiveness through the Finished Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Resist Self-Justification – In our talk with God (prayer), the person should resist giving excuses for being bitter, i.e. reminding God that the person who offended him is at fault and that he has the right to be bitter. The person has to get his eyes of the other person’s fault and focus on releasing the bitterness to God and the healing from God.
Amy Carmichael has a note in her little book: “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted. If it is full of sweet water and is jolted, what will come out of the cup? Sweet water. If you gave it a harder jolt, what’s going to happen? More sweet water.” If someone is filled with sweet personality and someone else gives him a jolt, what will come out? Sweet Attitude. Jolts do not turn sweet personality into bitter personality. That is done by something else.
Bitterness in the Congregation is a major hindrance to Revival. When Christians start to forgive and confess their sins, they will be able to receive forgiveness from God and a personal victory over the work of the flesh and the enemy.