Most of us, if we live long enough, will experience some level of bitterness in our lives. Today, bitterness is a very common and widespread problem in our society. It affects people from all walks of life. Chances are,  we all know people who are bitter. Bitterness not only affects us emotionally, it could even lead to many physical ailments. But what is bitterness? How do I know if I am bitter? How do we become bitter? Cambridge dictionary defines bitter in adjective form as angry, showing or causing deep anger or pain. People who are bitter become irritable, complaining, fault finding, discontent and unhappy. They get angry easily and have a negative outlook on life. In the book of Hebrews chapter 12:15 it reads”… root of bitterness…causes trouble…” It seems like trouble follows people who are bitter. They have difficulty maintaining relationships and there seems to be an aura of negativity about them. The author of Hebrews goes on to say”…by it many become defiled.” The word defiled comes from the Greek word miaino which means to contaminate. One of the unintended consequences of bitterness is, it contaminates the people around them. We don‘t mean for this to happen, but unfortunately our attitude effects those around us. This is the devastating effect of bitterness. How do we become bitter? There are many reasons and causes for bitterness, some of us naturally hold grudges more than others which in turn could lead to bitterness. For most of us bitterness comes as a result of actions of individuals or through life circumstances. When someone does us harm either in action or words it wounds us, and how we deal with those wounds could determine whether we end up bitter or not. If we have done something to deserve their action we usually can get over that much easier then when we think their actions were unjust. It’s this sense of injustice that keeps us mad inside. We want that person to get repaid for what they have done. If we see them punished, then we can move on and even the memory of their actions doesn’t bother us as much. But when we don’t see them getting their just due that’s when the anger remains. We tend to go over it in our mind and every time we go over it we fuel the resentment toward the individual in our heart. It’s this going over of the injustice and holding on to it that causes us to become bitter. So what are we to do? We need to remember that God is a God of justice, the person’s actions towards us did not go unnoticed, and God will repay them for their actions. Romans 12:19 says “vengeance is mine, I will repay.” The Lord will pay that person back. Our part is to put the matter behind us by forgiving the person and praying for them. We cannot hold two different contrary feelings toward someone, if we pray for the person that caused us harm it will prevent the seed of bitterness to get implanted in our heart. It’s going over these feelings of anger that cause to become bitter. But why me? This question usually gets answered in the future, it’s in the future that we are able to connect the dots and see the whys. But even if we never understand the whys we can trust that ultimately God saw fit that we should go through this, then he has a purpose for it. On our next posting we will try to look at what to do when circumstances of life make us bitter.

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