When someone wrongs us, deeply wrongs us, we have a tendency to hold onto that wrong and let it stew in our hearts. Over time, whether we realize it or not, we start to become bitter. We might say that becoming bitter is ok because we have been wronged so deeply, but what does bitterness actually do to us? The Bible calls us to remove bitterness and replace it (Ephesians 4:31-32), but if we don't what will it bring about in our life?
In this article below are some thoughts that have been taken from a message delivered by Pastor David Whiting. The link to the full message can be found here: Bitterness. Hopefully this will help us see what troubles bitterness can bring.
1. Physical Trouble
Clarification: Just because you may have one of these conditions doesn’t mean that you are bitter, but bitterness can lead to these things
- Impair Metabolism
- Impair Immune Responses
- Impair Organ functions
- hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Loss of Appetite
- chronic headaches
Even Secular Doctors are seeing the physical dangers of bitterness in our lives
2. Mental Trouble
- “When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness. Our enemies would dance with joy if only they knew how they were worrying us, lacerating us, and getting even with us! Our hate is not hurting them at all, but our hate is turning our own days and nights into a hellish turmoil.” (Carnegie 55) Dale Carnagie
- “I really must acknowledge the fact that I am a slave to every man on who I pour the vials of my wrath.” Dr. S.I. McMillen
3. Emotional Trouble
In your anger do not sin”Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
- Get rid of that anger quickly. One of the reasons Paul says this is because anger is an emotion and it is not healthy when held onto for a long while (it turns into bitterness).
“Pent-up anger is the root of nearly all clinical depression.” Minirth/Meier Clinic
- While we wouldn’t agree with a bunch of things that come out of the Minirth/Meier Clinic, this is an incredibly strong statement
4. Spiritual Trouble
- If you struggle with bitterness, you will struggle with sin
- Peter, as he was talking in Acts 8:23 says:
For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.
“Sinful people tend to respond sinfully when sinned against” David Whiting
- Bitterness and sin just go together. So when someone is sinned against, they tend to respond sinfully. If their own sin is not dealt with, they tend to become bitter. Bitter people have been deeply hurt and the continue to hurt by sinning against themselves, others and God with their bitterness.
5. Social Trouble
- Bitter people tend to destroy relationship around them. If conflict comes up, they use their bitterness to run over people and then excuse it on their personality or what has happened to them in the past. They are mad at the world and at people.
- Other people see this bitterness, but the bitter person doesn’t. Even if they do, they feel like they have a right to respond that way because of what has happened to them.
“Bitterness impacts your relationships and friendships” David Whiting
6. Personal Trouble
- Given enough time, the person who is bitter often becomes more like the person they are bitter against.
- “If you don’t release those who have hurt you, you will begin to resemble them” Rick Warren
- If you don’t believe this to be true, ask someone close to you to be honest. The things you despise about the person you are bitter towards often start to become the things you display. One reason is because you are so consumed with those things, that they overtake your life and your constant thinking about them causes you to change into what you hate.
- Example: You are bitter towards your parents because they don’t treat you well. Your bitterness tends to make you treat others poorly. Your bitterness starts to turn you into what you despise.
- It’s like a poison you choose to drink expecting the other person to die
“Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them – and then you destroy yourself” Richard Nixon (Said during the Watergate scandal)