Sometimes bitterness just crept into our lives. We know it should not be there, but it is.
What exactly is bitterness? Dictionary definitions of bitterness mention severe pain, suffering, distress, deep anger, hurt, disappointment, resentment, and the like, but bitterness is not just one occurrence of such experience or emotion. A boy could eat his sister’s candies, and the girl could get very angry and utter some strong words. The boy might in turn say something mean to her. Yet we don’t normally think of them as being bitter because the next day they will likely forget the whole thing.
Bitterness, however, has something to do with long term hurt/anger and accumulation of resentment against a person or a situation. We are angry with someone, so we resent things he does. Since he does things that we resent, we become angrier toward him, and since we are angrier, we are even more resentful of anything he does…. This vicious cycle can go on and on until it becomes painful and destructive to ourselves and to others.
Since bitterness is a long term condition, it is often difficult to handle properly.
But the Bible clearly tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (v. 31) It also shows that the best remedy for bitterness is love.
Experience God’s Love (Eph. 5:1)
In calling us to live in the way of love, the Bible reminds us that we follow God’s example as “dearly loved children.” We need to know, understand and experience that precious love from God! And with such experience of supreme love, we in turn learn to love others.
The saying that “hurt people hurt people” is very true, but hopefully as dearly beloved children of God, we all become examples of “loved people love people.”
Experience Mutual Love in a Spiritual Community (4:32 – 5:2)
Since our source of love is divine, our love toward one another should be godly, pure and sincere. This passage mentions a few things that we need to put into practice:
- Be a kind and compassionate person. 4:32
- Be a forgiving person (always remembering that God has forgiven us). 4:32
- Walk in the way of love (remembering that God loves us). 5:2
The principle here is if we truly experience God’s love, and we live in a healthy and loving community of children of God, and we consciously work on getting rid of bitterness, we should be able to remove bitterness from our lives, even if it has been a long term issue for us.
May you experience God’s love dearly even as you read this.
PS: I haven’t been writing on this blog for a long time partly because I was writing some articles on my Chinese blog and partly because of a series of events related to my brother’s stroke since last October (2015). I do intend to finish the Ephesian series, however. Thank you for reading and for your prayers. God bless!
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 4:31-5:2 TNIV)