I was officiating a celebration of life service for an organization that serves grieving families. After the service a woman who attended the event walked up to the director to voice her extreme anger because her maps app sent her on a dirt road.
“You owe me a car wash,” she yelled, “and the shocks on my car are ruined because you didn’t provide proper directions. What are you going to do about it?” The volume and tone of her voice caused many heads to turn to see this embarrassing spectacle. She was miserable!
When she began yelling, I realized she wasn’t just mad at the director, the dirt road, or potential damage to her car; she was angry at life. Somewhere along the line, life had made her bitter and robbed her of all joy. As a result, she was a very unhappy person.
Here’s the problem with living in bitterness:
- It steals your joy and happiness.
- It hurts you more than the person you’re mad at.
- It robs you of your future.
- It can ruin your ability to have healthy, life-giving relationships.
- It dominates your thoughts and ruins your ability to think clearly.
- It’s a sin, and God doesn’t want it in your life.
Life’s too short to be bitter!
We are warned in Hebrews 12:15, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
It’s time to get rid of the root of bitterness that’s been poisoning your life. You need to “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.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
And with God’s help, you can.
At the moment, you may feel like you have every right to be bitter and angry. For you, the hurt is so painful you don’t even know how you’re going to make it through the day. Just remember that you can’t control the hurt someone else may have caused you, but you can choose not to be bitter.
Here are three steps you can take right now to keep bitterness from ruining your life.
1. Forgive people. The problem with people is they are people, and people are prone to hurt people. That’s why we need lots of forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to “forgive one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Once you realize how much God has forgiven you, it is easier to forgive others.
Take a moment and ask God to give you the strength to forgive those who have hurt you. You can’t do it without him. It doesn’t mean what they did was okay. It just means you’re making a choice not to live with it anymore.
Just like God forgives you through Christ we are called to forgive others.
2. Move on. I’ve met people who are still bitter about a hurt from decades ago. Don’t let that be you. We can move toward the future God has for us by “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)
The longer you hang on to it, the more you will dwell on it, and it will ruin your life. You can’t change the past. But in God, you have a bright future. Move toward that.
3. Get around some goldy people. Hebrews 12:15 starts by telling us to “look after each other.” Do you know what that means? It means that we need friends in our lives that are friend enough to keep us from falling into bitterness. So, who are you looking after, and, who’s looking after you? Don’t fight bitterness alone!
God has an excellent plan for you. I don’t know what that will look like for you, but I do know this–– bitterness is never God’s plan for you; life is too short for that.